Michael Rogers of California-based HTC Columbia takes the Overall Lead heading into Mountain Stage of 2010 Amgen Tour of California

by laliveinsider on Thu., May 20 at 09:00 AM

May 20, 2010

Peter Sagan Sprints to the Finish to Take Stage 5 Win in Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD (May 20, 2010) - With the sun hanging high in a flawless blue sky, enthusiastic crowds turned out in Visalia for at the start of today's race to watch the peloton of world-famous cyclists, including defending champion Levi Leipheimer (USA) and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (USA) of Team RadioShack, lined up at the start line. Equally impressive crowds lined the streets in Bakersfield to witness the incredible sprint to the finish line that saw Peter Sagan (ITA) of Liquigas-Doimo take his first stage win in the 2010 Amgen Tour of California. (Sagan also was awarded the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey for the previous three days as well.)

Stage 5 (121.5 miles/195.5 km) took the riders through the heart of California's San Joaquin Valley and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. After the neutral start in Visalia, the cyclists headed due south through Exeter and Lindsey and up the narrow and twisty Old Stage Road; the day's first of two KOMs. The race got to a rough start, with a big crash less than thirty minutes after the start in Visalia as the road narrowed heading out of town, that included Leipheimer and Armstrong, along with several other riders. Proving to be a devastating crash to the group, Stuart O'Grady (AUS) of Team Saxo Bank and Armstrong abandoned the race to secure medical attention (both are being treated for their injuries and will not be returning to the race). Heinrich Haussler (GER) of Cervélo TestTeam abandoned the race shortly after as well, but had not been involved in the crash.

With incredible crowds lining the street, the first sprint of the day took place in Lindsay and was taken by Robbie Hunter (RSA) of Garmin-Transitions, followed by Michael Rogers (AUS) and Mark Cavendish (GBR) both of HTC-Columbia. About 20 miles into the stage, Thomas Leezer (NED) of Rabobank and Davide Cimolai of Liquigas-Doimo broke away from the pack, creating a small gap, but were quickly swallowed back up. Shortly after, another breakaway formed that included Marcus Berghardt (GER) of BMC Racing Team, Tony Martin (GER) of HTC-Columbia and Jeremy Hunt (GBR) of Cervélo TestTeam and as the group neared the second sprint of the day additional riders joined to form a break of 15.

The second and final sprint of the day in Porterville was nabbed by Karl Menzies (AUS) of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis, followed by Jeremy Powers (USA) of Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda and Martin. In a chase led by HTC-Columbia, the break of 15 was brought back in, which was promptly followed by several counter attacks until one finally took, which included Paul Mach (USA) of BISSELL, Ben Day (AUS) of Fly V Australia, Grischa Nierman (GER) of Rabobank, Mark Renshaw (AUS) of HTC-Columbia, Kurt Hovelynch (BEL) of QuickStep and Will Dicksen (AUS) of Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda.

Continuing on to Bakersfield, the route headed into the Kern River oil field, the fifth largest in the United States, where the riders encountered several short, steep climbs. The route then took the riders further inland to tackle the narrow and twisty Old Stage Rd. climb (Cat. 3 - 3,345 ft.), which was taken by Mach, followed by Nierman and Hovelynch. The breakaway powered on, but an elite chase group led by Team RadioShack was following at about four minutes behind. As the riders continued on the way to the final climb of the day, Round Mountain Rd. (Cat. 4 - 1,421 ft.), which was just 21 miles from the finish line in Bakersfield, different teams took turns leading the chase group. From the apex of the final climb, the cyclists will be able to look down onto the finish at Bakersfield College. On the ascent, Day took the opportunity to launch an attack and pulled out ahead of the breakaway, followed closely by Renshaw, but they were caught by the remainder of the breakaway on the descent.

The final obstacle of the day was a 10 percent climb up China Grade, which was part of two finishing circuits in Bakersfield. With one lap to go Day pulled away from the group and the rest were caught by the chase, but at the base of the grade on the final circuit, he too was absorbed by the group. In an all out sprint to the finish, Liquigas-Doimo pushed Sagan to the front for the win, followed by Rogers in second and David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Transitions, who started the day as the race's overall leader, in third.

\"It was a pretty tough day today with the hard climb, the strong wind and the breakaway that got away. With two laps to go, it was Liquigas-Doimo and Garmin-Transitions who did the work to bring it back,\" said Sagan. \"Dave Zabriskie took off early in the sprint and with a couple meters to go. It was the right moment and I found a gap.\"

There were several changes in the jerseys today, with Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey going to Day, the Herbalife Sprint Jersey going to Sagan, and the Amgen Race Leader Jersey changing hands from Zabriskie to Rogers. The other jersey winners remain unchanged with Sagan in the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey and Ryan Anderson (CAN) of Kelly Benefit Strategies in the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey.

\"Once again, my team delivered for me pretty well. I'm very happy to put on the Amgen Leader Jersey...and every second counts,\" said Rogers.

\"The crowds all along the route for Stage 5 of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California from Visalia to Bakersfield today were absolutely amazing,\" said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. \"You could feel the enthusiasm, which means a lot to these riders, and was great to see that from a new host city, Bakersfield. Tomorrow should be a really challenging and telling day for the riders, with our first mountain finish in Big Bear. We are all looking forward to seeing how it plays out.\"

Amgen's celebration of cancer survivors continued today with a Breakaway Mile celebrating Bakersfield breast cancer survivor Tricia Bland who was chosen as local Breakaway from Cancer® Champion for her commitment to share her story and knowledge to inspire others.

The Breakaway Mile is a special one-mile walk that crosses the finish line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. During the event, Bland was joined by approximately 150 community members - cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and advocates - and Jon Oliner, Amgen scientific director, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.

\"Today, at almost age 49, I feel stronger than ever,\" explained Bland. \"It's been an incredible journey and I love to inspire others who are impacted by cancer. I enjoy inspiring people to incorporate both nutrition and exercise into their lives to improve health and longevity. Today's Breakaway Mile is a great example of how people can fight cancer and exercise at the same time, and I am overwhelmed by the opportunity to lead the event.\"

Today's Breakaway Mile was one of the race activities that supports Amgen's national Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which was created in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural race. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative is designed to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer - from prevention through survivorship.

For access to resources or to learn more, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

Friday, May 21 - Palmdale to Big Bear Lake (135.3 mi/217.7 km)

Start Time: 9:30 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3-4 p.m. PT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 - 5 p.m. PT
(Coordinates can be found at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/news/media-info.html).

Palmdale City Hall will serve as the backdrop for the most difficult stage in the five-year history of the Amgen Tour of California. After a five-mile neutral section heading south on Sierra Rd. to start off Stage 6, sponsored by V Australia, the route makes a left turn onto Angeles Forest Highway. Facing the riders is the imposing San Gabriel mountain range, and within a few miles the first of seven KOMs will be crested. After a blistering descent from Mill Creek Summit, the route turns to Upper Big Tujunga and then onto Angeles Crest Highway. From there, the riders continue on a 135-mile odyssey with more than 12,000 feet of climbing. The race will climb to a high point of nearly 8,000 feet as it rolls along the Angeles Crest Highway. Then, there is a brief respite as they descend to Wrightwood and over to Highway 138. The route again ascends as it passes through Crestline and Lake Arrowhead, as the cyclists take to the \"Rim of the World\" highway. Entering the Big Bear area, the riders will take the northern route around Big Bear Lake and then tackle the last rise to the finish at a more than 7,000-foot elevation at the Snow Summit ski area for the Amgen Tour of California's first-ever alpine finish.

For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.

In addition to the website, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Stage 6 will air live on VERSUS tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.

About the Amgen Tour of California

The largest cycling event in America, the 2010 Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG, that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course through the state from May 16-23.

About Amgen

Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a broad and deep pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about Amgen's pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com. To learn more about Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer initiative, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.

About AEG

AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization's live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.

Media Contacts:

Michael Roth
[email protected]

Nicole Okoneski
[email protected]

Michael Rogers (AUS), General Classification Leader

On today's circuit:
\"Certainly every second does count. I was getting some help with some pretty good sprinters, and then obviously with Team RadioShack attacking on the climb we went on to the finish which was a pretty tough circuit. The wind played a serious factor. Once again, my team delivered for me pretty well. Peter Sagan is a huge talent and very fast - something that I'm not really known for. I'm very happy to put on the Amgen Leader Jersey...and every second counts.\"

On having the Amgen Tour of California in May instead of February:
\"I think with the change of date, a lot more people are in better shape than in the past. The race being in February, the guys are coming from a European winter. It's normal that they struggle in the early months. I think it comes down to that. With the race in May, the field is a lot more competitive and there's faster racing.\"

On today's race:
\"Team RadioShack kind of attacked on the climb and set a hard tempo. A few other teams that had interest in winning the sprint helped maintain the lead.\"

On tomorrow's race:
\"I feel good about tomorrow's race. Everyone has to ride hard - everyone's looking for bonus seconds.\"

\"I'm confident but I'm sure Team RadioShack is not going to go away from this race. They have a lot to deliver. There's a heck of a lot of climbing at a very high altitude tomorrow that will take its toll on the riders\"

On his current condition:
\"I've come here being in the best shape of my life. I made a lot of changes this year. I've changed the way that I train. I'm four kilos lighter now than I was at this race last year. I've learned how to train more efficiently and I realize what I want from this sport.\"

On today's crash:
\"I was right next to it, but I didn't see what happened. I think it was just a touch of wheels and we were riding quite fast at the time. It was unfortunate. Lance injured himself as well. Nobody wants to see that happen.\"

Peter Sagan (SVK), First Place, Stage 5; Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey Winner; Herbalife Sprint Jersey Leader

On today's win:
It was a pretty tough day today with the hard climb, the strong wind and the breakaway that got away. With two laps to go, it was Liquigas-Doimo and Garmin-Transitions who did the work to bring it back. Dave Zabriskie took off early in the sprint and with a couple meters to go. It was the right moment and I found a gap.\"

\"I'm obviously happy when I win, but I'm already looking forward to a couple more opportunities. I'm going to give it everything I can for the GC but for now, I'm happy.\"

On the upcoming individual time trial:
\"The time trial might be too long for me. The stages are really hard leading up to the time trial. So we'll see.\"

Benjamin Day (AUS), Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey Winner
Fly V Australia

On today's circuit finish:
\"The Europeans aren't 100 percent sure about having circuits coming in to the finish, but that really made an extra spectacle of the race. It brought a 'moment' to the tour. The Amgen Tour of California is the Amgen Tour of California and it should stay the way it is. There were incredible crowds today. Who can't say it was an exciting finish?\"

\"We were pretty diligent about researching the courses before getting the invitation to come here. The [circuit today] was a bit bloody harder than I thought it would be. But I got inspiration from the crowd.\"

On tomorrow's race:
\"Apparently we got Big Bear tomorrow. I need a bit of rest between now and then. It will probably be the most magnificent stage of the Amgen Tour of California. There's a massive amount of climbing during the stage. That's really going to weaken some legs, which could affect the result of the time trial. If you're not eating well or conserving energy tomorrow, the time trial will be a little harder. And Thousand Oaks [on Sunday] is a difficult circuit. We might still see some shift in the GC. We know that we have a big day ahead of us.\"

On today's race:
\"We win as a team not as individuals. That's the nature of the game. The guys in the breakaway worked very hard today. We have such incredibly talented athletes here.\"

On the attack on the KOM:
\"There have been so many fast finishes in that group. I definitely needed to play a few times to see if I could thin the group out and find a good combo to go in the line with. With me sitting in the break, it was discouraging the momentum of the group. Mark [Cavendish] is riding very strongly at the moment. He came with me. The guys behind me were able to come back on.\"

David Zabriskie, Third Place, Stage 5

On today's stage:
\"Today was another beautiful stage. Everyone road an aggressive race. Unfortunately, we lost a few guys from the peloton in a crash, but our team road great all day. We did everything we could to retain the jersey. Hats off to Michael Rogers for his time bonuses and for capturing the Amgen Leader Jersey. Hope everyone who crashed is alright.\"

Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports

On Lance Armstrong's condition:
\"Lance has been released from the hospital. He has some stitches under the eye. He had a severe contusion on his elbow - it was x-rayed and it was negative. He's sore and disappointed but otherwise okay.\"

On timing for the next Amgen Tour of California:
\"We believe the current spot we have on the calendar has the potential to extend a few days, either in the beginning or in the end. Going forward, we like the flexibility we have to potentially go up to 10 days.\"

On crowds this year:
\"I haven't seen an overall number yet, but I think we're seeing some larger crowds this year than in previous years. Particularly in the past three stages, the crowds have been larger than what they've been in the past. It's been truly fantastic. The crowds will continue to get larger ,which is a testament to cycling, the weather and to the passion that people have to see the best cyclists in the world.\"

On the upcoming time trial in Los Angeles:
\"With respect to Los Angeles, we certainly have the largest traffic and pedestrian management system in place since the city put on the Olympics. We're installing six miles of fencing starting Friday night. We're building bridges over Flower and Figueroa. It is a fairly extraordinary undertaking.\"

On today's stage and finish:
\"When we first started having conversations about Bakersfield, we probably had about six months of pretty active and vigorous debate with the local organizing committee about what would constitute a suitable finish. The Bakersfield local organizing committee said finishing at Bakersfield College would be the kind of spectacle that we all wanted - fan-friendly with a compelling finish. Today's stage proved that they had it right from the beginning.\"

Jim Birrell, Race Director, Managing Partner

On tomorrow's stage:
\"We've achieved what we wanted - for this race to possibly come down to the last day. Tomorrow's stage plateaus when you come up on the ride. It's a rollercoaster. A break can possibly sustain itself to the finish line up at Big Bear. And then we have the time trial. There's going to be a decisive finish to this great story.\"

On the upcoming time trial in Los Angeles:
\"In my 25 years in this business, I haven't come across a course that has presented this many challenges. Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the country and the time trial will be at the center of the city - L.A. Live. We had a solution-oriented attitude to the challenges we faced. We will maintain our focus and continue to provide the riders a safe environment so the best man can win.\"

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