Amgen Tour Of California: Stage 8 From Thousand Oaks To Westlake Village, Michael Rogers Wins
It was the typical gorgeous day in Southern California- perfect for the elite in cycling to come together for the final stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour Of California. The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks was overflowing with excited and relaxed spectators, for the START of the race.
Today’s circuit wove and climbed through Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills and Mullholland Highway between Cornell Road and Encinal Canyon. It was 83.5 miles that finished a grueling race that sent many established riders home early (including Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson and Fabian Cancellara).
This year’s race was marked with controversy, when Floyd Landis, who had won the first-ever Tour of California, had leaked a series of e-mails in which he charged riders Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie and George Hincapie with using performance enhancing drugs. Landis had shown up at yesterday’s time trials in Downtown Los Angeles, but, was not present today.
Deep blue skies and billowy clouds were the surrounding at the Oaks, where a nice breeze made for an ideal day. The starting line was in front of the Muvico Theatres and fans looked on from the patio of the Lazy Dog Cafe. Fans of all ages lined the starting chutes and flashed photos of the riders as they got ready to launch out on to the course. Andreas Knickman- who is currently battling bone cancer- was honored before the race. His father is well-known cyclist Roy Knickman. The riders headed out of the mall and on to Thousand Oaks Boulevard and the official start of the race on Townsgate Road in Westlake Village.
Michael Rogers survived a half dozen attacks on the final climb by three-time defending champion Leipheimer of Team RadioShack and Garmin-Transitions’ Zabriskie to win the overall title. Rogers, a 30-year-old from Australia, won his first Tour of California, with Zabriskie second for the second year in a row and Leipheimer finishing third.
Fan favorite George “Big George” Hincapie was the veteran US rider who recieved the loudest response from fans. He led Stage 8 for much of the day, but, was passed in the last half mile by Canadian Ryder Hesjedal.