San Jose, CA -- February 24, 2006
Tour of California (UCI 2.1): Stage-5
By Chris G. Baldwin
SANTA BARBARA, CA /Feb 24/ Sergey Lagutin came in eighth today at the Tour of California, just behind winner George Hincapie after a hilly 103 miles from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. The 26-year old Russian in his third year as a professional, his first as a Navigator, was mildly annoyed after the race and displayed it in a very typical Uzbek fashion.
When Uzbeks talk they click their tongues in a 'tsk' to emphasize a point. This non-verbal linguistic device is so common in the region that many non-Uzbeks pick up the habit and carry it with them throughout their lives. When Sergey finished his race Friday and was cleaning off at the team van afterwards, he was crisp and silently bristling at what he saw as a missed opportunity for a stage win. The 'tsks' came at pointed intervals when he spoke.
"I'm not satisfied with the finish today ('tsk')" said Sergey. "Hincapie had a good position but I got off his left and was off the side when he launched ('tsk'). I felt fine, just got sidetracked at the end, ('tsk')"
Sergey and three other Navigators Insurance Cycling teammates were in the final selection of the day, a blazing hill climb initiated by Levi Leipheimer with around 30 kilometers remaining in the race. Hincapie's Discovery squad eventually chased down the break, reeling it in on the wide and twisting descent to the beach and bringing along about 35 riders. Valeriy Kobzarenko, Glen Chadwick and Phil Zajicek were all there at the end to contest the sprint, with Sergey finishing best among the four.
"Discovery really started working on the downhill, maybe they had six or seven guys there, all for Hincapie. We tried to get Lagutin to the end ourselves, but it didn't work out. Hincapie was just more powerful than everybody else," said Kobzarenko.
The sprint materialized on a long beachside road headed south. Already at full gallop, the sprint was not a classically matched lead out but more of a blending of different speeds. The riders had a 300-meter view of the finish and began breaking for it with about 150 to go.
"The sprint wasn't really a sprint. It started from the base of the downhill when they brought (Hincapie) in. There weren't any real sprinters in the group, so they just led him out and he powered off the front," said Kobzarenko.
Sergey was directly behind Hincapie and moved to his left at 150 meters to go. 6'2" Hincapie had more leverage and power than the 5'8" Lagutin and created an unbridgeable gap for the shorter rider. That instant space between them meant others could come in to the slipstream and ride Hincapie's wheel to the line. Lagutin pumped as hard as he could, swinging out further left to try and find a clear line into the end. He came in eighth, unsatisfied with the way things turned out.
"I could have finished much better ('tsk'). I got in the group on the climb and was there for it. I spun out in the end and got gapped by Hincapie when he powered off the front. So I'm not content with how this stage went today ('tsk')," said Sergey.
The four Navigators in the finish meant that the team climbed in the overall standings, and because Zajicek was there at the end, he too stays the top domestic-based American pro in the race. With just two stages remaining in the Tour of California and the weather getting better every day, the Navigators Insurance Cycling team is at full strength and riding very well against the top ProTour squads from Europe.
- Ben Brooks took the second intermediate sprint of the day but won it uncontested as part of a breakaway rolling through the town of Guadalupe.
"We rode pretty hard for about 30 or 40 kilometers, but eventually it got a bit disorganized. There were a couple of teams chasing, because (Michael) Barry was in the break and I think he was some kind of threat on the G.C. The sprint just came up on us and everybody was doing their turns at the front. I kind of timed it to come through on my turn. I wasn't sure what was going to happen, because yesterday there was a thousand dollars on the sprint. I didn't think there was that much money on the line, but I wasn't going to miss a shot," said Brooks.
1 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 3.52.02
2 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner
3 Christopher Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 16.29.40
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 0.29
3 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 0.34
15 Phil Zajicek (USA) Navigators Insurance 2.32