CSC's Fabian Cancellara was four seconds faster then the number two of this years prologue of the Tour of California. The
current Time Trial World Champion had an averge speed of 51.43 kilometres and clocked a time of 3'.51.21 on the 3.4 kilometre
long course from Palo Alto to Stanford University. Cancellara is also the first overall leader and is the first non-American
ever to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour of California.
Cancellara was four seconds faster than Bradley Wiggins (High Road). Tyler Farrar (Slipstream Chipottle) came in third,
five seconds behind the stage winner. Defending champ Levi Leipheimer (Astana) came in fourth, six seconds behind the Swiss
Leipheimer is highly motivated to repeat last years overall win of the Tour of California and is in a good position. Leipheimer
vowed to fight back on the road after his Astana squad was not invited to participate in this years Tour de France. The American
rider also started an online petition to gather support for a Tour start of him and his team. Leipheimer said: “I saw
the Tour de France on TV when I was young.” Leipheimer added: “I knew that someday I wanted to do that race. I
sacrificed my life to participate. After finishing on the podium last year I want to do even better. Now I’m a victim
of an illogical decision and have been excluded from the race.” On www.letleviride.com supporters can sign a petition by filling in their e-mail adress.
Rock Racing’s Mario Cipollini made a successful return to professional cycling after nearly three years away from
the sport by finishing 44th in yesterdays prologue.
The 2002 world road race champion was greeted by some of the loudest cheers from the massive crowd lining
the two-mile (3.3 km) course through the streets of Palo Alto and the Stanford University campus. His time of four minutes
and eight seconds was 17 seconds behind the winner, Fabian Cancellara (CSC), who clocked 3:51.
“The size of the crowd was amazing and caught me off guard,” Cipollini said. “It was
great to hear so many people cheering my name and shouting encouragement. I was very pleased with my form today.”
Cipollini retired a few weeks before the start of the 2005 Giro d’Italia after winning a record
42 stages of that race, in addition to 12 stage wins at the Tour de France and 191 races overall in a professional career
that began in 1989.
Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball said it was time to put controversy surrounding the team behind and
get the race underway. On Saturday, Rock Racing was informed by race organizer AEG that three of its riders – American
Tyler Hamilton, Columbian Santiago Botero and Oscar Sevilla – would not be able to start.
“We may have the fewest riders in the race but I don’t think anyone is counting us out,”
Ball said. “Mario and Freddie have the full support of the team and we fully expect to contend for a stage win over
the next couple of days.”
Rodriguez, a three-time U.S. national road race champion, said he is anxious to team with Cipollini during
Monday’s Stage 1, a 97-mile race from Sausalito to Santa Rosa. Which rider might be leading out the other should the
race come down to a sprint finish is still to be determined, Rodriguez said.
“Basically, we're both professionals and teammates,” Rodriguez said. “We are going
to take it day by day. Our goal is to win a stage for Rock Racing. It's the first race of the year for both of us, and the
first race of his comeback. So we'll take every day individually and hope to take a stage.”
Cipollini has raced in the United States on two other occasions, having competed in the 2004 Tour de
Georgia. He won Stage 2 that year, a 118-mile (189.9 km) race from Thomaston to Columbus, Ga., to score what was then his
188th career victory. He also competed in an industry criterium last September in conjunction with the Interbike convention
in Las Vegas.