Australian cyclist Michael Rogers, left, goes into the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday with a 9-second lead over his closest rival, David Zabriskie, right.
HTC-Columbia's Rogers beat Zabriskie by 5 seconds in Saturday's individual time trial in Los Angeles; three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer finished 11 seconds behind Rogers and retained third place overall.
Germany's Tony Martin, also of HTC-Columbia won the 23-mile time trial, finishing ahead of Rogers by 22 seconds.
The podium ceremony for the top three finishers in the ITT was quite a scene; Martin and Rogers beamed with their respective stage win and overall race lead. Zabriskie was clearly dejected by dropping further back in his quest to win his first Tour of California.
After he puts that disappointment behind him, Zabriskie and his Garmin-Transitions teammates will have to figure out how to gain back 9 seconds in the final-day criterium through Thousands Oaks, West Village and Agoura Hills.
The peloton will make four laps on the 21-mile circuit that includes a challenging climb on Mulholland Highway. The 84-mile race begins at 12:30 p.m. (PT) on Sunday and should end between 3:39 and 4:10 p.m. Versus coverage begins at 2 p.m. (ET)
The top finishers on Saturday are all strong time trial riders. Martin won the bronze in time trial in the UCI world championships in 2009; Rogers and Zabriskie are current time trial champions representing their home countries, and Leipheimer won the bronze time trial medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.
Peter Sagan, the 20-year-old Liquigas cyclist who won back-to-back stages, did not do so well in the ITT. He finished in 16th place on Saturday, which dropped him from 3rd overall to 7th. That boosted Leipheimer back into 3rd overall.
A couple of veterans had good showings on Saturday. Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) finished 5th in the individual time trial, which pushed him up from 13th to 4th place overall. Chris Horner (RadioShack) rose from 9th to 6th place after posting an 8th place finish in the time trial.
Top 10 overall
1. Michael Rogers, Columbia
2. David Zabriskie, Garmin – 9 seconds
3. Levi Leipheimer, Radio Shack – 25 seconds
4. Jens Voigt, Saxo Bank – 1:12
5. Rory Sutherland, Unitedhealthcare – 1:26
6. Chris Horner, RadioShack – 1:32
7. Peter Sagan, Liquigas – 1:34
8. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin – 1:46
9. Janez Brajkovic, RadioShack – 2:1
10. Tom Danielson, Garmin – 2:21