04 | JAN
Santa Barbara (February 24, 2006) - With the last major climb of the Amgen Tour of California looming at the end of today's 105-mile stage from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, Ben Jacques-Maynes of the Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada Pro Cycling Team had a final chance to show his ability to climb with the leaders, and the San Jose rider rose to the occasion.
As the field closed in on a four-rider break of Jens Voigt (CSC), Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner), Viatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery) and Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly) near the base of the Category 1 climb of San Marcos Pass, teammates Jackson Stewart and Scott Zwizanski helped position Jacques-Maynes near the front of the field.
On the climb itself, Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) and Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval-Prodir) attacked and opened a gap of around 20 seconds, while Jacques-Maynes held strong in the group of race leader Floyd Landis (Phonak), along with fewer than thirty other riders.
At the finish, the Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada team leader moved up to 25th overall and was 10th across the line as George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) won his second stage of the race.
As the field rolled out of San Luis Obispo in the morning, Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada riders featured in a slew of attacks as small groups tried to break away from the Phonak-controlled pack.
In particular, Dominique Perras was part of a 13-rider group that looked promising for a time, but TIAA-CREF prevented the gap from increasing to more than a minute and the break eventually lost steam. Perras did take third in the Clif Bar sprint point at Guadalupe though.
Today's stage also served as a homecoming for Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada Operations Manager Kurt Stockton, as family and friends turned out at the finish to welcome the Santa Barbara native and former USPRO Champion back to his hometown, where his cycling career began.