Leipheimer takes early California lead

Local boy Levi Leipheimer sets the early pace in the Tour of California, taking a clear win in the o

Local boy Levi Leipheimer sets the early pace in the Tour of California, taking a clear win in the o


American riders dominated the opening day of the inaugural Tour of California, as Levi Leipheimer took the 3.1km prologue in San Francisco, with four of his compatriots filling the next four places. The Gerolsteiner rider from California beat Bobby Julich by a large margin on such a short course of almost five seconds, with George Hincapie another second back in third, Floyd Landis just behind him in fourth, and Julich's CSC team-mate David Zabriskie fifth.

Organisers estimated that a crowd of more than 200,000 watched the action on San Francisco's bayside. The prologue took the riders along Embarcadero and then up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, looking down on San Francisco Bay.

Julich was the first rider to break the five-minute barrier, but he was eventually beaten by Leipheimer, who went off third from last. "I can't tell you how proud I am to be leading the first race," said Leipheimer. "[This race] is, right out of the start house, the biggest race in the US," Leipheimer continued, "it's definitely going to be the fastest growing race that the world has seen with the support of AEG and Amgen."

The unluckiest rider at the prologue was probably Zabriskie, who chain unshipped just as he came to the foot of Telegraph Hill. "When you think about how much time Zabriskie lost due to his mechanical, it's quite impressive he still managed to take fifth place in such a short prologue. I believe he would've been able to match Leipheimer's time otherwise. I'm sure Zabriskie will want to retaliate in the third stage time trial, but I also think we'll get the first drama already during the extremely demanding second stage," said CSC DS Scott Sunderland.

Prologue: San Francisco

1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 3.1km in 4.53 (38.08kph)
2 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 0.05
3 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.06
4 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak
5 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 0.09
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) CSC 0.10
7 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel 0.10
8 Hayden Roulston (NZ) Health Net 0.11
9 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel
10 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 0.12
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
13 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 0.14
14 Heath Blackgrove (NZ) Toyota
15 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
16 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Kodakgallery.com 0.15
17 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net 0.16
18 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) CSC 0.16
19 Ren Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner 0.17
20 Rmi Pauriol (Fra) Crdit Agricole

- Cofidis enjoyed a winning weekend in France, as Leonardo Bertagnolli won Saturday's Tour du Haut Var in Draguigan and Arnaud Coyot took Sunday's Classic Haribo in Uzs. Coyot's win was arguably the pick of the two as the Frenchman went clear in a break with sprinter Thor Hushovd but managed to get the better of the Norwegian in the final dash for the line.

Haut Var

1 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis 185km in 4.54.21 (37.71kph)
2 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crdit Agricole 0.09
3 Jurgen van de Walle (Bel) Quick Step
4 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 0.56
5 Bert de Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
6 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Crdit Agricole
7 Freddy Bichot (Fra) Franaise des Jeux
8 Bram Tankink (Hol) Quick Step 0.58
9 Francesco Failli (Ita) Liquigas 1.17
10 Joost Posthuma (Hol) Rabobank

Classic Haribo

1 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis 203km in 5.28.16 (37.10kph)
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
3 Mauro Facci (Ita) Barloworld 0.32
4 Kevin van Impe (Bel) Quick Step
5 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank
6 Leon van Bon (Hol) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Sad Haddou (Fra) Auber 93
8 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Crdit Agricole
9 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
10 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Unibet.com

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