Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana) seized the lead of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California on Monday with a daring attack on the steeps of Bonny Doon just outside the finish in Santa Cruz.
Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Slipstream) won stage 2, a 115.9-mile ride from Sausalito to Santa Cruz, with Michael Rogers (Columbia-Highroad) finishing third on the day and slotting into second overall. But the race clearly belonged to Leipheimer, who shot away from his rivals to chase down a disintegrating break and snatch the leader’s jersey from Rock Racing’s Francisco Mancebo.
“Turn your shower on, as cold as it gets, and stand there for four hours,” is how Leipheimer described the feeling on the bike Monday.
With all the water on the road, it was another unlucky day for a dozen or so riders, among them Lance Armstrong (Astana), who crashed after a bump with his own photographer’s motorcycle, and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), who was taken to Santa Cruz in an ambulance after a hard spill.
At day’s end, Leipheimer led the Tour of California by 24 seconds over Rogers, with David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream), Lance Armstrong and Chris Horner (both Astana) rounding out the top five on general classification.