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THOUSAND OAKS - Olaf Pollack proved that there is life after Erik Zabel for T-Mobile's sprint division by storming to victory in stage six of the Tour of California to Thousand Oaks on Saturday.
Pollack took the win ahead of Saunier Duval's Ricardo Ricco, who has impressed on all terrains this week in what is one of his first races as a professional. Davitamon-Lotto's Fred Rodriguez added a third-place finish to the second he notched behind Juan Jos Haedo on stage four.
On an almost unchanged general classification, Floyd Landis's lead of 29 seconds over David Zabriskie now looks impregnable with just tomorrow's Redondo Beach circuit race remaining. "It doesn't look like tomorrow will be too eventful," Landis said laconically of Sunday's 123.1km stage.
After Levi Leipheimer's last-ditch effort to dethrone him on the San Marcos Pass yesterday, Landis also "thanked" the Gerolsteiner man for not attacking on the Balcolm Canyon climb, 89 kilometres into stage six. Landis then joked that he was looking forward to celebrating his probable victory with a visit to Californian drive-thru chain In and Out Burgers.
At the post-race press-conference, Landis sat alongside Shauwn Hunter of race organisers AEG Sports, who announced that another superb turn-out today had taken the race past the one-million spectator mark. Hunter said that this made the race the best-attended sporting event in California's history behind the Olympics.
UCI president Pat McQuaid echoed Hunter in declaring the race an unqualified success. McQuaid also admitted, however, that the Tour of California cannot be considered for membership of the ProTour until 2009, when the pool of races which currently makes up the series is due for renewal. McQuaid pointed out that one of the elements which has made the race so popular this year - the presence of American-based teams - would be impossible under current ProTour rules. The Irishman did state, however, that he aims to "take the ProTour out of Europe at some point in the future".
Stage 6, Santa Barbara-Thousand Oaks
1 Olaf Pollack (Ger) T-Mobile 144km in 3.26.39 (41.81kph)
2 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval
3 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net
5 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner
6 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner
7 Ren Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
8 Andr Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile
9 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) CSC
10 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 19.56.19
2 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 0.29
3 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 0.34
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.45
5 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Health Net 1.08
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.10
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.29
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.49
9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC 1.55
10 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel 1.58
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