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The first two stages of the Amgen Tour of California are complete and while the winner of Stage 1, Mark Cavendish, was no surprise, Brett Lancaster's victory on Stage 2 was not as predictable.  In the race for the overall championship, three-time and defending champion, Levi Leipheimer (Team Radio Shack) is still on track for win number four.  But, his main challengers, save for Fabian Cancellara, have also finished at the front meaning the race is still far from over.

 

Stage 1 from Nevada City to Sacramento was held in warm, dry weather and until the race hit the three 2-mile laps of the finishing circuits in downtown Sacramento it was a pretty boring affair.  That's not to say that the first day's four man breakaway wasn't deserving of their time off the front, it is just that with the powerful HTC-Columbia team driving the chase, a field sprint was inevitable.

 

Drenching rain greeted the peloton for stage 2 and it was another breakway which dominated the early and mid-race action, but as in the first stage, the escapees were caught. But, unlike the first stage it wasn't the whole field rather a select group of the overall contenders including Leipheimer, Dave Zabriskie(Garmin-Transitions), Mick Rogers(HTC-Columbia) and Andy Schleck(Team Saxo Bank).

 

Noticably absent was Fabian Cancellara who started the race sick and succumbed to his illness and ultimately losing fifteen minutes by the stage finish.

 

Twenty five riders contested the sprint into Santa Rosa with Brett Lancaster(Cervelo Test Team) taking the win over emerging spring sensation Peter Sagan(Liquigas).  Lance Armstrong, whose fitness had been called into question before the race, was also part of the lead group. Radio Shack had five of its eight riders in the front at the finish, a strong showing by their team which bodes well for the difficulties ahead.

 

Because of his stage 2 win and the accompanying time bonus, Lancaster assumed the overall race lead from Stage 1 winner Mark Cavendish. Tomorrow's stage, a hilly test from San Francisco to Santa Cruz will most likely cause a change in overall race leadership as well.

 

Bruce

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