Zabriskie tougher than Landis in Tour of California.

Zabriskie receives supportive message from asphalt.

Sometimes it’s a major jump when a rider wants to go from second place to first. The distance from runner-up to victor can be as long and steep as a hors category mountain. The real requirement is no longer physical strength and endurance but rock solid mental toughness.

Ex-teammate and comedy side-kick Floyd Landis dropped a bomb on Dave Zabriskie this morning, alleging that the Garmin Transitions rider had doped. While Lance Armstrong was ready with a crafted, confident statement, we’re not if sure Zabriskie knew what was coming.

But judging from his response today in stage five from Visalia to Bakersfield, Zabriskie is no longer the private and quirky guy who occasionally goes really fast but didn’t have the will power to win a big stage race.

Riding at the front all day, Zabriskie raced hard for the finish line. Liquigas star Peter Sagan won the stage but Zabriskie made a strong statement of his own: I am out to win the Tour of California and nothing, not Rogers, Leipheimer or Floyd Landis’ surprise attack will stop me.

Nobody will ever match the laser focus and mental strength of Lance Armstrong, but in his own way, Dave Zabriskie showed a new toughness. One that will serve him well in his quest to win the Tour of California.

New pics from the stage posted on the Twisted flickr gallery at the bottom of the homepage.

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  • Johnny Masury

    Yet another black eye, maybe a kidney shot as well – Ouch!