Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) took a thrilling win over Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) in the Tour of California as the three riders broke away from the peloton on the day’s final climb, Bonny Doon Road, and held it all the way to the line.

Zabriskie’s win gives Garmin-Transitions another big victory to add to 2010’s already bulging list of achievements – earlier in the day Tyler Farrar scored his second stage win at the Giro d’Italia.

California’a stage three, a 113-mile (182km) test from San Franciso to Santa Cruz, offered four categorised climbs, culminating in the big Bonny Doon Road with 20 miles remaining. It was here last year that Leipheimer launched the attack that separated himself from all his challengers, netting himself a precious 30 seconds.

At the start, Leipheimer’s contenders acknowledged that they would be closely watching the RadioShack rider this year, expecting that he would attack once again to try and thin out the field. When asked if this was a critical stage in the race, Leipheimer replied, “Every stage is critical. I am just taking it one day at a time.”

And sure enough it was Leipheimer who launched an attack on the 14% slopes of Bonny Doon, once again and only Zabriskie and Rogers could follow. A strong chase group formed, but with four RadioShack riders, including Armstrong, policing the front, the gap ballooned to one minute and 30 seconds at the top of the climb. Unfortunately for the three leaders there was 15 miles of downhill and flat to the finish and with Liquigas and Cervelo Test Team taking big pulls, the gap was down to 17 seconds at the line.

Zabriskie also pulled on the jersey as overall race leader and while their effort was all but neutralised it was clear that the Garmin-Transitions rider, Rogers and Leipheimer are the three strongest contenders in the race. All three are strong time triallers, which makes stage seven’s 20-mile time trial in Los Angeles looking more and more like the big showdown of this year’s race.

RESULTS

Tour of California 2010, stage three:

1. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions in 4-26-09


2. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia

3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at same time

4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 17secs

5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare

6. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo

7. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank

8. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack

9. Francois Parisien (Can) SpiderTech

10. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at same time.

Overall classification after stage three

1. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions in 13-09-33


2. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 4secs

3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 6secs

4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 21secs

5. Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare at 24secs

6. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 27secs

7. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack

8. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare

9. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Transitions

10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions at same time

Related links

Stage two: Lancaster takes rainy stage

VIDEO: Tour of California 2010, stage two

VIDEO: Tour of California 2010, stage one

Stage one: Cavendish gets off to winning start in California

Tour of California 2010: The Big Preview

Dave Zabriskie: Rider Profile