Gesink Wins Tour of California But 2-3 Finish By Americans May Put Them in London Summer Games
The climb to the top of Mt. Baldy in the next-to-last stage proved to be the difference for Rabobank’s Robert Gesink, as he used that Stage 7 win to climb to the top of the standings, then rode it out on the final day through the streets of Los Angeles to capture the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
Gesink, the 25-year old flying Dutchman, completed the eight-stage event from Northern California to downtown L.A., in 30 hours, 42 minutes and 32 seconds. That was 46 seconds faster than American Dave Zabriskie and 54 seconds ahead of Zabriski’s American teammate Tom Danielson.
All is not lost for Zabriski and Danielson, however, as they are hoping their strong showing in the Amgen Tour propels them to a spot on the U.S. Olympic cycling team. USA Cycling will announce the riders by June 18.
“Dave is the best time trialist in the world,” Danielson said, pumping up his cycling partner. “It’s a no-brainer that you take him for the time trial. I hope to go for the road race.”
Said Zabriskie, “I guess you take who you think is the best.”
For Gesink, the Amgen Tour win was secured on Saturday when he was the first to conquer the challenge of Mt. Baldy, the toughest of the eight stages, a ride that rivals some of the most challenging courses in the world. It has 15 switchbacks and the brutal King of the Mountains (KOM) at Glendora Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road.
By comparison, the last stage, held Sunday, May 21, was a breeze. It was a ride from Beverly Hills through Hollywood with the finish at L.A. Live. The ending was made even more electric by the fact that the L.A. Kings and the Clippers were both involved in playoff games that same day at the same site. The Kings game started just as the Amgen celebration concluded.
Gesink won the event despite a breakout performance from Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas-Cannondale, who won the first four stages and capped it off by taking the Stage 8 sprint, as well.
“I dedicate this win for my father,” said Gesink, who said his father attended the 2009 Amgen Tour of California to see his son place 8th overall and win the race’s Best Young Rider jersey that year. Unfortunately, his father was killed in a mountain bike accident two years ago. “For me emotionally it is something really big to be back at this high level and to win a stage here, the toughest stage of all. It’s a good thing to be back in California and to be winning again.”