Hincapie crosses Pasadena finish line after heated sprint.
George Hincapie of High Road (USA) crossed the Pasadena finish line of Stage 7 shortly after 4 p.m. Sunday to complete the Amgen Tour of California.
Hincapie was pursued by three racers (Australian Rory Sutherland of Health Net, American Michael Creed of Rock Racing and American Jason McCartney of CSC), who dominated the last portion of the race.
The newest link in the 650-mile tour included took riders out of Santa Clarita, and across Angeles Crest Highway, where riders entered the arroyo surrounding the Rose Bowl. After completing six 5-mile laps around the historic arena, riders crossed the finish line in Pasadena.
The teamwork of Astana paid off Sunday as Levi Leipheimer maintained the title of Tour Champion for a second year.
Sunday morning’s rain didn’t put too much of a damper on the beginning of Stage Seven of the Amgen Tour of California, as several hundred people braved the weather to line Town Center Drive to see the remaining 72 racers off.
Proving that the racing circuit has its own culture of celebrity, a la the Academy Awards that would follow the race, wet pavement replaced the red carpet. Amgen official announcer Dave Towle introduced each rider to a round of cheers as they signed in for Sunday’s final leg of the 650-mile race. More relevant questions – such as “how do you feel about the race” were on the crowd’s mind, instead of “who are you wearing?”
The racers’ attire did, however, set the standard for bright colors against the overcast sky.
The weather was blamed for the cancellation of a Saturday concert by the Gin Blossoms, headliners of the city’s Rock the Bike festival at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. City officials estimated close to 1,000 people turned out for the gathering that followed the race finish.
Saturday’s race was something of an upset, when apparent winner Mark Cavendish of High Road Racing was penalized for “falling into the slip stream” of a support vehicle (officials saw him holding on to the car after recovering from a fall for a time limit longer than was allowed), falling to 47th place and Brazilian Luciano Pagliarini of Team Saunier Duval-Scott was awarded the Stage 6 trophy.
Since this year’s race went through more of Santa Clarita proper, roads were closed through Saugus and parts of Canyon Country for racers to make their way to Sierra Highway and Aliso Canyon Road enroute to Pasadena. Inconvenience seemed to be a minimum, with large groups of families and other spectators gathering at Vasquez Canyon and Sand Canyon Roads to watch the racers come by.