The 2009 Tour of California came to an end yesterday with two time defending champion Levi Leipheimer claiming his third victory in a row, as his Team Astana escorted him to victory and took the team title in the process.
Yesterday’s course was a long and challenging one, covering nearly 97 miles through the mountains of California, including a slog up Mt. Palomar, a beyond categorization climb that peaked out at 5123 feet. With its 21 turns, Mt. Palomar is referred to as the Alpe d’Huez of the ToC, in reference to the famed mountain stage of the Tour de France. While on Palomar, there was an attack made on Leipheimer, but he rose to the occasion, stuck with his closest rivals, and rode home to victory. David Zabriskie of Team Garmin-Slipstream took second place, while Michael Rogers of Team Columbia-Highroad was third. Other notables included Lance Armstrong finishing in 7th place overall, and Floyd Landis of Team OUCH taking 23rd with his return to the professional ranks.
All in all it was a good week of racing, and it seems that Tour of California has earned a reputation for being a tough tune-up for the season ahead. The weather early in the week was wet and cold, but the sun shone through at the end and made it a bit easier on the riders. All told, more than 2 million spectators turned out to watch the race, largely to see Lance, making it the largest sporting event in the history of California.
Congrats to Levi and Team Astana on a job well done. It seems like Lance’s comeback is going about as well as can be expected at this point too.