Tom Boonen won yesterdays second stage of the Tour of California. It was the first win of Quickstep's former World Champion.
Gerlosteiner's Heinrich Haussler came in second and Mario Cipollini came in third.
Boonen said: "I don't like the rain. I don't like it at all. I don't like to descend in it and I don't like to sprint in
it." Asked about racing against Cipollini, Boonen claimed, "Age is only what you make of it. Cipo is a well-trained athlete.
I know the first time I beat him I was very proud but the next day he beat me back!"
Rock Racing's Mario Cipollini said: "It was a very difficult sprint and I couldn't express my maximum power, so it was
challenging from that point of view,” Cipollini said. “I didn’t even know my position at one point so I
had to use my experience a little bit."
After the race, a barrage of camera flashes captured a Hollywood moment on the awards stage when
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulated Cipollini, who, at 41, is the oldest rider in the race.
"This is just the start. There’s more to come," Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball said. "We
expect to win a stage before this race is over."
Rock Racing started the race with only five riders after race organizers excluded American Tyler
Hamilton, Columbian Santiago Botero and Spaniard Oscar Sevilla. But despite riding with less than a full eight-rider squad,
Rock Racing remains 10th (of 17 teams) on the team classification.
Slipstream's young gun Tyler Farrar took over the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara (CSC). Farrar
finished third and second in the two intermediate sprints earning the three total seconds he needed to move ahead of race
leader Fabian Cancellara (High Road) by one whole second. After 115+ miles of racing, the 23-year-old even managed a respectable
6th place for the finish in Sacramento. He was proceeded by a who’s who of sprinters that included Tom Boonen, JJ Haedo,
and none other than the Lion King himself, Mario Cipollini.
Slipstream's sports director Jonathan Vaughters was clearly happy with his team’s performance. "Today was complicated.
There were any number of scenarios that could have played out," he said. "But we came and got the job done."
Teammate and co-owner of the Slipstream squad, David Millar said at the start of todays third stage: "Yesterday it was
the whole team that got that jersey. All the details, the planning, and hard work - it all added up for us." Millar continued
by saying: "This is just the beginning of what we continue to do this week and in the months and years ahead."
The rain meant that the Team CSC riders did not want to take any chances at the end of the stage and they were up front
during the final laps in Sacramento. However CSC sprinter JJ Haedo suffered a flat on the second to last lap, which meant
the battle for positions ahead of the sprint, took place without Team CSC.
"We actually had things pretty much under
control, but with JJ's flat the plan didn't work out like we wanted it to. Fabian [Cancellara] gave him his wheel and even
though they both managed to fight their way back to the others, it was no longer possible to line anyone up the way we'd wanted.
Tomorrow's stage is the toughest in the race and the fact that we do not have the jersey could actually turn out to be to
our advantage, because we won't have to focus on that from the start."
The Toyota-United Pro Cycling
Team opened the windows to stage two with a soggy bottomed race day that began in Santa Rosa. The team was raring to go after
a daring finish by Dominique Rollin in Stage 1. Toyota - United's sports director Pettyjohn said, "After our strong finish
yesterday, I think we again are in a great position to finish strongly in the Santa Rosa to Sacramento stage. This stage
suits our game plan for a strong finish today." The finish was fast and furious and once again Rollin, made a good showing
coming in 7th place.
Todays third stage will prove
difficult with Mt.Hamilton looming large with the 4000 foot climb for the boys in red, white, and blue. Toyota- United's Ben
Day is looking to improve his overall position in the general classification for the team with a strong showing tomorrow as
the riders make their way to San Jose from Modesto. Henk Vogels (Toyota - United) on tomorrows race said, "Because the riders
like to start the season in a place like California where the racing isn’t that hard; this year for some reason they
put Mt. Hamilton in and I don’t understand the reason for that, I don’t understand why they did that, no rider
really wants to go up climbs that long in early February but that’s the way it goes." It will prove another long ride
in the 8 day, and yes we will only be halfway through the California experience after tomorrow’s ride. Let’s
hope for some drier conditions.