February 25, 2007
Dominguez takes Stage 7, Leipheimer the overall at ToC
So far, the Tour of California has been the Discovery Channel/CSC Variety Hour, with guest stars Paolo Bettini and Graeme Brown. CSC has 3 wins, 2 by Juan José Haedo and one by Jen Voigt, while Discovery Channel has two by Leipheimer in the race's two time trials.
So it's understandable the US squads were on the attack today on the circuit race in Long Beach.
Danny Pate of Slipstream and Tim Johnson of HealthNet kicked off the day's big break, joined by Johnson teammate Karl Menzies, Pate teammate Steven Cozza, Toyota-United's Sean Sullivan, Priority Health's Ben Jacques-Maynes, and T-Mobile's Adam Hansen. At one point, Pate was yellow jersey on the road, but Discovery had plenty of help today from teams looking for a sprint stage win, including BMC, Credit Agricole, and Rabobank.
Menzies was the final survivor with around 2 miles to ride. Pate would take the overall most-aggressive rider's jersey for his active role all week.
From there, the ProTour teams worked to place their sprint specialists. CSC got on the front, with Rabobank trying to set up Graeme Brown and Gerolsteiner working for Robert Förster. At the line, the win went to Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, who found and attacked from Brown's wheel.
“For me it is better if I find my own way in a sprint,” said Dominguez. “With four laps to go I found Graeme Brown's wheel and I stayed there. When we started the sprint he just took me all the way to the finish.”
Dominguez was brought over to Toyota-United partly to fill the gap left by Juan José Haedo, now riding for CSC, who took the points jersey for the overall tour.
Levi Leipheimer wraps a wire-to-wire overall win in front of the home crowd. It's going to be very interesting to see how his season develops; this could either be his payoff for working for Basso at the Grand Tours, or the beginning of the big season he's worked for.
Best young rider goes to Rabobank's Robert Gesink, :41 ahead of Matthew Lloyd of Predictor-Lotto. CSC took the team classification, 2:19 up on Discovery Channel. Said Stuart O'Grady:
“We came here with the objective of going for the overall. But getting three stage wins plus second, fourth, fifth, sixth, the overall team classification and the sprinters jersey was a superb week. We've come from a really hard training camp and it was hard. But the hard days are paying off and we've come away from this with way more than expected and we are all very happy.”
Christophe Laurent took the King of the Mountains overall.
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