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It's raining in Santa Rosa, of course. Tour of California is coming

Levi_300 You'd think hometown guy and three-time Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer could do something about this. But as it was last year and the year before, the rain is pouring down at the finish line of Stage 2 in downtown Santa Rosa on Monday. 

There are two intermediate sprints where points are on offer and three categorized climbs for riders interested in ultimately owning the polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber. Leipheimer was kind enough to offer some analysis of his home stage last week.

"I know these roads like the back of my hand," Leipheimer said of all the back routes running through the Napa Valley wine country.

Leipheimer said that when it's not raining (ha!) there is beauty in the road past Lake Berryessa. He remembered how his American teammate Chris Horner chased down eventual stage winner Francisco Mancebo last year and kept the field close. There is the Trinity Climb about 20 miles from the finish, and Leipheimer said, "I can see maybe where there could be just a small group at the front coming into Santa Rosa." Leipheimer said the stage is a prime chance for a sprinter who can climb well, which seems to mean he doesn't think HTC-Columbia sprint star Mark Cavendish can win two days in a row.

So far Monday, Karl Menzies of United Healthcare-Maxxis, Robert Thomson of Fly V, Andrew Randell of SpiderTech, Thomas Rabou of Team Type 1 and Michael Friedman of Jelly Belly are in the early breakaway.

Right now, Leipheimer and his RadioShack teammate Lance Armstrong as well as yellow jersey holder Cavendish are in the main peloton about four minutes behind the leader.

Versus will join the action with live high-definition coverage (it's using the Tour de France production team) for two hours beginning at 2 p.m.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Levi Leipheimer prepares for the start of Stage One of the 2010 Tour of California on Sunday. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images.

 
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