Tour of California Stage 3: Team Sky, Take 2

The writers over at US Pro Cycling News (myself included) will be doing daily recaps of both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of California. Also, be sure to check out Fitzalan’s take on the stage from the ground!

A stage that was destined to end up in a sprint surely did. The riders started in crap weather conditions, with rain, wind, and 52 degree weather. Thankfully, the rain let up as the stage went on, but the wind and the cold did not. Despite a strong crosswind near the end, the wind did not end up being much of deciding factor in this stage, and the bunch was together at the end when Greg Henderson, of Team Sky, took the stage win.

Domestic riders in the break

Like yesterday, a passel of Domestic riders got into the breakaway within the first few kilometers. Seven riders made up the eventual break: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling, and the brother of yesterday’s breakaway rider, Ben Jacques-Maynes), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder), Mike Creed (Kelly Benefits Strategy) and Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), who was in the break yesterday and took home the Most Courageous Rider’s jersey. Their lead settled in at around 6:40 until the reached the halfway point, when the peloton started to pick up the pace behind them. However, this increase in pace did not mean a quick scoop up of the break- it continued to toil away until it reached Modesto. Gaimon was the first to drop from the back, with 73km to go.

By 30km to go, Jacques-Maines and Barta were alone at the front, while the peloton behind them coped with crosswinds. The field was split up something fierce, with many favorites caught out the back, but soon another road change direction helped bring the peloton back together.

Soon Barta was by himself at the front, but that was short lived, as they came into Modesto. Once the peloton came into Modesto for two laps of a 4.5 circuit, he was swept up.

Crashes in Modesto

As the peloton came into the first circuit, Spidertech took control and lead for the whole circuit. It was during these laps that crashes started to happen. First it was Jens Voigt (Leopard Trek), Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad), and Will Dugan (Team Type 1). Then it was Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-Sungard) and Micheal Matthews (Rabobank). Everyone got up from their crashes and finished the race on their bikes. Into the last lap Saxo Bank-Sungard came to the front for JJ Haedo and with 3km to go, Sky came forward for their sprinter, and yellow jersey wearer, Ben Swift. As Sky, and the peloton, came out of the last corner, Greg Henderson motored away, intending to be the leadout man for Ben Swift. However, Swift had been caught in the field and as Henderson quickly gapped the field, he realized Swift was not coming around him and handily took the win in front of Haedo, Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), and Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo).

Henderson said after the stage that the plan had been to go for Swift, but in the chaos of the run to the line, Swift lost his wheel and when Henderson opened up his lead out, Swift was not there, so he went for the line himself.

Henderson’s win put him tied with Swift for first place, time-wise, but has taken over the yellow jersey. With the climbs starting tomorrow, Henderson said Sky holds no illusions about keeping the jersey for another day.

Top 5 Stage finishers

  1. Greg Henderson NZL (Sky)
  2. Juan Jose Haedo ARG (Saxo Bank-Sungard)
  3. Thor Hushovd NOR (Garmin-Cervelo)
  4. Peter Sagan SVK (Liquigas-Cannondale)
  5. Leigh Howard AUS (HTC-Highroad)
Top 5 GC
  1. Henderson
  2. Ben Swift GBR (Sky) at same time
  3. Sagan at 4 sec
  4. Haedo at 4 sec
  5. Hushovd at 6 sec

Photo: AP/Getty Images


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