Under cloudless skies and temperatures that reached above 100 degrees, David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Barracuda outrode his competition and into the yellow Amgen Race Leader Jersey during the Stage 5 Individual Time Trial in Bakersfield, finishing in first place with an overall time of 35 minutes, 59 seconds. Coming in 23 seconds behind him was Jens Voigt (GER) from RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team finished 42 seconds behind Zabriskie and moved into second place overall only 34 seconds behind.
“My house is two hours from here, so I came out in the winter,” said Zabriskie, the current U.S. Time Trial champion, who is hopeful his result here at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will bode well for his Olympic ambitions to represent the United States at the London Olympic Games. “I rode it. I videotaped it on the iPad and watched it quite a few times. I knew where I wanted to go hard. I knew when I wanted to go easy – soccer field, petting zoo, make it to the tree line go down easy come up strong. I had a real plan going into this race.”
Zabriskie took over the lead of the eight-day race from Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas-Cannondale, who has dominated the race thus far, holding the Amgen Race Leader Jersey for four days straight. Sagan, who said he “didn’t feel good from the start,” finished the Time Trial in 52nd place with a time of 39 minutes, 26 seconds.
In what many of the cyclists cited as “one of the toughest time trial courses in the history of the Amgen Tour of California”, cyclists raced on an 18.4-mile route that included several 100-foot rollers. As the cyclists neared the finish, they still had one climb to tackle – China Grade – which presented an eight percent climb to the top and then a hard left. Then, the riders faced a slightly uphill, .44-mile run to the finish.
“I spent a lot of time on the time trial bike in training,” said van Garderen when asked about his preparation for today. “The course today was a tough one because there were no corners; pretty much just straight road. Yeah, there were a few ups and downs but the entire time was in the bars with the exception of the final climb. Just staying in that position for that long is hard on your arms, whereas, if you had a few corners you can kind of sit up and take a bit of a breather. So it was on the power the whole time which was really hard.”
As expected, the Individual Time Trial proved to be decisive, shaking up the General Classification standings. Zabriskie now leads the race in first place, followed by van Gardener in second and Robert Gesink (NED) of the Rabobank Cycling Team. Previous race leader Sagan now sits in 31st place.
When asked if he was going to fight to keep the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, Zabriskie responded, “Definitely. I’m not going to lie down and give it away. David Zabriskie is going to fight until he’s lying on the ground almost dying. To win would be the biggest win in my life, my career. It would be amazing; definitely not an easy thing to come by. It would be a beautiful thing.”
Also taking place today was the second annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial Race, presented by SRAM. Using the same course as the professional men, the women’s event featured 10 of the world’s best female cyclists, including American Olympic hopeful Kristin Armstrong (USA), who rides for the Exergy TWENTY12 team. It was Armstrong who finished with the best time of 39 minutes, 59 seconds. Alison Powers (USA) of the NOW and Novartis for MS placed second with a time of 41 minutes, 23 seconds, and Jade Wilcoxson (USA) of Optum Pro Cycling Powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies took third with a time of 41 minutes, 58 seconds.
“This was one of the hardest courses and conditions I’ve done in my 10-year career,” said Armstrong. “The heat was really hard and real heavy. The road was recently repaved and black as black so the heat that came off of that was really hard. It was a true time trial course. A true test of fitness, and I think the strongest person won.”
Armstrong continued, “Having AEG and Amgen bring women in for the time trial, I can’t even thank them enough. It’s so awesome to put women on the same stage as the men. It’s really nice to mix the men and women. I do a lot of World Cups in Europe and just the hype…I really appreciate what everyone has done and all the sponsors that have backed it.”
With no Sprint or King of the Mountain (KOM) competitions today, Sagan will now wear the Visit California Sprint Jersey, while Sebastian Salas (USA) of Optum Powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies will keep the Nissan King of the Mountains Jersey. Yannick Eijssen (BEL) from BMC Racing Team remains in the Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey and Markel Irizar Arranburu in the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Luke Durbridge (AUS) of Orica-GreenEDGE will wear the Rabobank Young Rider Jersey.
- Amgen Leader Jersey – David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
- Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey – Sébastian Salas (USA), Optum Powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
- Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)
- Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey – Luke Durbridge (AUS), Orica-GreenEDGE (AUS)
- Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Markel Irizar Arranburu (ESP), RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)
- Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey – Yannick Eijssen (BEL) of BMC Racing Team (USA)
Stage 5 Top-3
- First – David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
- Second – Jens Voigt (GER), RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)
- Third – Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC Racing Team (USA)