Amgen Tour: Leipheimer leaps to top

SANTA CRUZ -- Lance Armstrong took a spill when he got tangled with a motorcycle, and still moved up a spot in the overall standings Monday at the Tour of California after a rainy and crash-filled second stage.

Two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa became the third different race leader. He emerged from a chasing group on the final climb with about 17 miles left before finishing a close second to stage winner Thomas Peterson of North Bend, Wa.

Peterson was victorious in the 115.9-mile Sausalito to Santa Cruz road race in 5 hours, 6 minutes and 20 seconds.

Strong wind and heavy rain hampered the field throughout most of the stage, which crossed the Golden Gate Bridge shortly after the start.

Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France winner making a comeback after a 3 1/2-year retirement, had his mishap about 80 miles into the stage.

"A motorcycle for the photographer from the race crashed right in front of me," Armstrong said. "Unfortunate, but it could have been worse. I don't feel too bad, hip is a little banged up but overall a great day. Levi proved he is the best guy in the race hands down."

Armstrong quickly received a spare bike from a team car and returned to the field with the assistance of teammate Jose Luis Rubiera of Spain.

Armstrong, who began the day in fifth place, is now fourth, 30 seconds behind. He finished 13th in the stage.

Floyd Landis, the former 2006 Tour de France champ competing for the first time following a two-year doping suspension, is 29th overall, 6:04 behind.

In addition to Armstrong's crash, a group of 15 riders also crashed during the stage.

Andy Jacques-Maynes of Capitola, Calif., was also fell into a parked car and left the race in an ambulance. He suffered head and ankle injuries not considered serious, said Ben Jacques-Maynes, his brother and teammate.

Leipheimer, who began the day trailing former race leader Francisco Mancebo of Spain by 1 minute and 2 seconds, now leads the race's fourth edition by 24 seconds over Michael Rogers of Australia.

David Zabriskie of Salt Lake City is third overall, trailing Leipheimer by 28 seconds.

"The weather has been nasty the last couple of days and it really changes the race," Leipheimer said. "I thought I better go because I didn't want to freeze up. I felt great, and I told (Yaroslav) Popovych 'I feel great, let's go. I couldn't wait any longer. I had to go."

Peterson, who missed his starting time Saturday in the prologue and finished last, rode behind Leipheimer in the final miles after being part of an earlier lead group.

"I just stayed on his (Leipheimer's) wheel," Peterson said.

"It was pretty easy."

Leipheimer, who earned his fifth Tour of California career stage win, rode among teammates, including Armstrong, throughout much of the stage.

Leipheimer launched off the front of a group chasing Carlos Barredo of Spain, who pedaled in a solo lead until he began to lag on the final climb.

Mancebo, who rode to a long solo victory in the opening stage, was never a factor.

"Even though I had a rough rider today, I can still compete for the (leader's) jersey as well as the other jerseys," said Mancebo, who finished 27th in the stage and dropped to 16th place, trailing by 56 seconds.

Stage 4: Merced to Clovis

Date: Wednesday

START TIME: 11 a.m.

START LOCATION: City Hall at the intersection of

N Street and 18th Street in Merced

FINISH LOCATION: Intersection of Bullard Avenue and Pollasky Avenue in Clovis.