Rogers puts in solid time-trial performance 

Michael Rogers, a three-time World Champion in the time trial discipline, finished the 20.9-mile individual race on Saturday in a time of 42 minutes, 3 seconds.

All week, the prevailing chatter surrounding the Amgen Tour of California was that the Stage 7 time trial in Los Angeles would be the deciding factor in the eight-day tour.

With his ride on Saturday, Michael Rogers went a long way toward proving that sentiment right.

Rogers, a three-time World Champion in the time trial discipline, finished the 20.9-mile individual race on Saturday in a time of 42 minutes, 3 seconds — a mark that increased his overall lead in the Amgen Tour by five seconds, putting him in prime position to capture the General Classification title as the race enters its final stage today.

Rogers entered the crucial Stage 7 time trial with a 4-second advantage over second-place David Zabriskie, and a 14-second lead over fourth-place Levi Leipheimer — the Australian’s chief competitors in the Amgen Tour. While both Zabriskie and Leipheimer ran solid times in the individual time trial — the two Americans finished the stage third and fourth respectively — they lost crucial seconds to Rogers. By completing Saturday’s time trial with a time of 42 minutes, 8 seconds, Zabriskie now stands nine seconds behind Rogers, and Leipheimer, the three-time defending champion of the Tour, is 29 seconds off the pace, after posting a time of 42 minutes, 14 seconds.

If Leipheimer is going to defend his title, he’ll have to put in the performance of a lifetime in today’s stage, an 83.5-mile race that takes the riders in a loop around Thousands Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles. The victory odds for Zabriskie, who won his first ever stage in the Amgen Tour with a victory on Tuesday, could be a little better. Zabriskie’s Garmin-Transitions team is the only squad that remains fully intact after seven days of racing.

Rogers’ teammate with HTC Columbia, Tony Martin, who participated in a courageous mountain attack on Friday in Stage 6, scorched the field on Saturday to take the individual time trial stage with a time of 41 minutes, 41 seconds. It was Martin’s first stage victory of the season.

The time trial competition on Saturday followed an arduous 135-mile trek on Friday, in which the cyclists endured a continuous ascent from Palmdale up to Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains.

By the numbers

20.9: Total distance of the Stage 7 time trial in Los Angeles

22 seconds: Tony Martin’s winning margin of victory in the time trial

1: Teams — out of 16 — that have a full squad still intact. That team is Zabriskie’s Garmin-Transitions squad

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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