Wire-to-wire win 

Most people might look askance at someone who wears the same shirt eight days in a row, but when that person is cyclist Levi Leipheimer and the shirt is the yellow leader’s jersey for the Amgen Tour of California, it might be possible to give him a break.

The Santa Rosa native rolled to victory Sunday after keeping the lead every day of the Tour. He finished the 639.5-mile race with a time of 24 hours, 57 minutes, 24 seconds — 21 seconds in front of Germany’s Jens Voigt of CSC and 54 seconds ahead of Discovery Channel teammate Jason McCartney.

"We knew everyone would come out and be aggressive. It wasn’t going to be a victory lap," Leipheimer said of the 77.5-mile circuit race through Long Beach in which he finished 37th, but with the same time as the leaders.

While he has three top-10 finishes in the Tour de France, the Tour of California is his third noteworthy title, joining his wins in the 2002 Route du Sud and the 2005 Tour of Germany.

In Sunday’s final stage, it took a photo finish to declare Cuba’s Ivan Dominguez of Toyota-United the victor. He crossed the finish line in a dead sprint just inches ahead of runner-up Australia’s Graeme Brown of Rabobank and Germany’s Gerald Ciolek of T-Mobile.

"With four laps to go, I came to Graeme’s [rear] wheel. I knew he was going to go for the win," said Dominguez, who stayed behind Brown until the final sprint, when he eked out his victory.

The majority of the race saw a seven-man breakaway of Tim Johnson and Karl Menzies of HealthNet, Adam Hansen of

T-Mobile, Danny Pate and Steven Cozza of Slipstream, Sean Sullivan of Toyota-United and Ben Jaques-Maynes of Priority Health, leading the peloton by as much as two minutes. That group attacked in the first lap and held a lead until the last lap, when it disintegrated before being overtaken by the peloton.

While Discovery Channelput two riders in the top 10 of the eight-day Tour, Denmark’s CSC won the team title, with five of its eight riders finishing in the top 10. Discovery Channel had its hopes of taking the team category dashed Saturday when U.S. champion George Hincapie broke a wrist in a fall, although he finished the stage.

Overall, 144 riders started the Tour, but only 112 finished. Riders dropped out for a variety of reasons, including illness, injury and exhaustion.

At the end of the race’s second year, AEG Sports president Shawn Hunter said the race would almost certainly continue after the five-year commitment made by AEG at the event’s inception.

"I can’t see stopping this freight train at this point," Hunter said. He said about 1.6 million fans had come out to see the race over its eight-day run, up from 1.3 million in the inaugural Tour.


For the latest news and features about the race, be sure to check our special Amgen Tour of California page.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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