Robert Gesink took stage seven of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, as Mt. Baldy provided the setting for a thrilling hilltop finish that will decide the race. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) will likely end the tour in second place, his fourth second place finish in the Tour of California. Garmin's Tom Danielson sits in third, with Team BMC's Tejay Van Garderen in fourth.
Defending champion Chris Horner opened the day with a lot of time to make up, having put in a poor showing in the individual time trial. He jumped into an early breakaway along with a dozen other men, including four teammates. They drove the race along at a blistering pace, and Horner and the rest of Team Radioshack-Nissan-Trek were relentless. One by one, men cracked and dropped out of the breakaway, until it was just Horner and Columbian Darwin Atapuma (Colombia-Coldeportes). They got a gap of as much as 3:50 over the peloton, but by the climb to Mt. Baldy the pelton had caught up and it was a wide open fight for the win.
Danielson faded first, and when Gesink attacked Van Garderen was unable to answer. Gesink motored up the road and overtook Atapuma, earning himself the stage win and the overall lead.
The provisional GC standings following stage 7:
1) Robert Gesink (RAB) - 29:14:52
2) Dave Zabriskie (GRM) - :46
3) Tom Danielson (GRM) - :54
4) Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) - 1:17
Stage eight is a short, flat drive into downtown Los Angeles that will have no impact on the GC standings. Gesink won the queen stage, and with it he takes the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
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