Sprint Champs Sprint to the Line: Winning by a tire
The action on the winding roads of California did not slow down yesterday. Paolo Bettini (the world sprint champion) roared to a bicycle tire finish in San Luis Obispo, edging out the under 23 sprint champion, Gerald Ciolek in a sprint to the finish. The riders were fighting for final tour position while the rains fell from the California clouds. In the end Leipheimer retained thew yellow jersey, which signals the overall lead for the entire Tour of California.
Bettini (Quick-Step/Innergetic), competing in the United States for the first time in his career, surged in the final 100 yards to complete the 132.6-mile road race in 5 hours, 5 minutes and 47 seconds.
Gerald Coilek (T-Mobile) of Germany was second in the stage and Juan Jose Haedo (CSC) of Argentina, the second stage winner, was third. Both had the same time as the winner.
After a disappointing 2006 season, the Discovery Channel cycling team still set some ambitious goals for this year at its training camp in January: Win the Tour of California. Win Paris-Roubaix. Win the Giro d’Italia. And win the Tour de France.
The team is well on its way to the first goal, as Levi Leipheimer retained the lead in the California tour for a fifth day Thursday. He was three seconds ahead of Jens Voigt going into Friday’s 14.5-mile time trial in Solvang. The Discovery team should find that route familiar, having trained on it in January.