February 22, 2006 – It was a solid day’s work for George Hincapie and the Discovery Team, winning Stage 2 and the leader’s jersey at the Tour of California. Hincapie will have a hard time deciding which jersey to wear however as he also won the Green Best Sprinter’s Jersey with his impressive sprint finish in a group of 22 riders that included heavy hitters Chris Horner and Josep Jufre Pou from Davitamon Lotto. The 152.7K stage was punctuated by numerous difficult climbs, including the Sierra Divide.
Dominique Perras arrived at the finish line first out of the three Quebec riders taking part in the race, placing 53rd. Though Perras worked to bring several teammates up to the lead pack during the final climb, he couldn’t make the jump himself at the divide. “It was really difficult and wasn’t great but it also wasn’t catastrophic either. I missed the leaders by about 15 seconds at the top of the climb and had to get onto the second group.” Currently in 56th overall, Perras will save his legs for the more mountainous stages on Thursday and Friday hoping to make his mark as a climber.
Charles Dionne is in a similar position as Perras, helping his Prodir-Saunier Duval teammates get to the front for the climbs. Dionne finished Stage 2 in 96th place. “I suffered a lot during that stage. My left leg is still hurting quite a bit. The pain is essentially from my back all the way down to my foot, so I’ll be talking to the team doctor after the Tour is finished. It’s weird since it’s only in one leg, I’m sure we’ll do a number of tests. It’s always troublesome when there is something wrong with your body and I’m just frustrated at having to put up with this pain.”
Despite a painful left leg, Dionne is content with his role in the Tour. “Today (Tuesday) I did my part for the team,” he said, making reference to teammate Gilberto Simoni’s ninth place finish in the stage.
Martin Gilbert finished more than 14 minutes behind stage winner Hincapie. The mountainous stage posed some difficulties for Gilbert, who is known for his abilities as a sprinter. Gilbert is currently ranked in 113th just ahead of Dionne in 114th.
For today’s (Wednesday) Stage 3, riders will be participating in a 27K Time-Trial through the streets of downtown San Jose.