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Santa Rosa, Calif. (February 20, 2006) – With Jackson Stewart (Los Gatos, CA) winning the Most Aggressive Rider prize, things went according to plan for the Nevada Pro Cycling Team in today’s first road stage of the Amgen Tour of California, covering 81.5 miles from Sausalito to Santa Rosa.

After the Gerolsteiner team of race leader Levi Leipheimer controlled the field over the initial climbs out of Sausalito through Muir Woods, Stewart and Credit Agricole’s Jean-Marc Marino found themselves clear of the field about four miles ahead of the Clif Bar sprint line at Point Reyes Station.

Stewart looks back for Marino after taking the sprint at Point Reyes
Taking advantage of the advice given by Racing Manager Jonas Carney in last night’s team meeting, Stewart surprised Marino by starting his sprint well ahead of the left-hand corner leading up to the sprint line.

Although the pair’s advantage over the field would grow to over three minutes, they were caught on the run-in to Santa Rosa with around 15 miles to go after 43 miles off the front. Stewart’s effort earned him the Adobe Most Aggressive Rider jersey.

“Marino established the move,” said Stewart, “but I was waiting and I jumped on it. We rolled pretty well together, and I was pretty sure I’d get the most aggressive jersey after I won the sprint at Point Reyes. This is really good for Nevada.”

Carney added, “Considering the competition that we’re up against, we’re really pleased to have won the intermediate sprint and the most aggressive jersey. Also, Ben and Martin did a great job of positioning in the finale, even though things got a little crazy in the last kilometer. This was a good day for our team.”

Race organizers estimated that 130,000 spectators attended today’s stage, which also marked the road racing debut of Nevada sponsor SRAM’s new professional-level road component group.

Team leader Ben Jacques-Maynes commented, “I’ve ridden the SRAM group in training and a couple shorter races, and I was looking forward to using it in a major race. I was confident that it would perform as needed and it didn’t let me down.”

Tomorrow’s difficult stage from Martinez to San Jose will be an important test for Jacques-Maynes himself, as a San Jose resident and Nevada’s co-leader along with Dominique Perras.

Said Carney of tomorrow’s stage, “We’re going to swing for the fences.”

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