Tour of California: Cancellara wins prologue, Armstrong 10th, and has bike stolen

Cancellara wins on the road, Armstrong wins the headlines, Leipheimer remains race favourite

by Tony Farrelly   February 15, 2009  

ToC Cancellara (Courtesy Photosport International)

For the second year in a row Fabian Cancellara won the Tour of California's opening prologue, the Swis rider beat the home crowd favourite Levi Leiphemer, two time winner of the Tour of California and native son of the sunshine state, to take the win.

As last year Leipheimer may get the last laugh: he is favourite to win again this year to make it three wins in a a row.

If the race were decided on headlines though there would only be one winner, that man Armstrong.

Cancellara and Leipheimer may have let their riding do the talking, but the only person the media wanted to talk about was the rider that finsihed 10th, Lance Armstrong. The great man finished 4.3 seconds off Cancellara's time in a far from shabby display by oldest man in the race – and one returning from a protracted lay-off. Mark Cavendish, a man at the other end of his career from Armstrong finished 11th.

Armstrong isn't the only older pro on the comeback trail at the Tour of California, Floyd Landis (the first winner of the race) is back too riding for the Ouch Maxxis team. His first day did not go as well as Lance's – he finished back in 90th spot.

The Armstrong stories didn't end with the first day's racing either, Armstrong continued to make news even when he'd turned in for the night, although this time it was about the bike not the rider when it emerged that the Time Trial machine he rode in the prologue had been stolen along with three road bikes belonging to Astana team mates. As he observed of the custom paint job Trek 1274 TTX, on his Twitter page “There is only one like it in the world therefore hard to pawn it off. Reward being offered”, if you see it – you know who to contact.