• Tour of California Kicks Off In Sacramento

    by  • May 12, 2014 • race coverage

    Photos courtesy of Alex Chiu Photography and Cranking Glass.

    Stage 1, Sacramento

    On a sunny Sunday characterized by pleasant spring temperatures but plenty of wind, the first stage of the Tour of California commenced eight days of stage racing for the men, and two stand-alone events for the women. The men’s field headed off into a stiff northwest wind at 10:50am to the cheers of a diverse crowd of cycling fans. Soon after, the women’s circuit race teams were presented on the start line announcing stage, staged at 11:50am and raced around the State Capital on a long rectangular criterium circuit from noon to one. After a lull in activity, the men’s road race returned to finish in a drag race around the same circuit. Both races came to field sprints, with top finishers Carmen Small (Specialized-Lululemon), Coryn Rivera (United Health Care), and Brianna Walle (Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies) for the women, and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), and Moreno Hofland (Belkin) for the men.

    Stage 2, Folsom Time Trial

    NCCN contributor Cranking Glass was in attendance of the second day of Tour proceedings and summed the day as follows:

    A workday and the very warm temperatures were not enough to dissuade a good crowd at Tuesday’s City of Folsom Individual Time Trial, Stage 2 for the Amgen Tour of California. The atmosphere was supportive for the women’s race and festive for both women and men. This was particularly so for American riders and the top world talent recognized by knowledgeable supporters.

    Along portions of the course lined with boards, boisterous spectators were only too happy to smack the boardings and amplify their appreciation for the racers. Even at the start line, a couple of local businesses rang loud bells for each of the racers, from amateur, to women, to men. The cacophony was simply outstanding as time trialists turned left onto the final stretch toward the finish line.

    The historic district of Folsom was a terrific backdrop to the time trial and the City of Folsom’s effort to bring in the event and fulfill the arrangements is to be applauded.

    Bradley Wiggins (Sky) took the fastest time of the day by a commanding 44 seconds, followed byRohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and Taylor Phinney (BMC). The fastest woman of the day was Alison Powers (United Health Care), Brianna Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Tayler Wiles (Specialized-Lululemon). After her second podium in two days of racing, I bequeth upon Walle an imaginary women’s omnium leader’s jersey.

    Stage 3, San Jose to Mount Diablo

    Good crowds showed at the day’s start in San Jose, again in spite of a workday and heat. These factors also lowered the number of intrepid fans willing to ride their bikes up Mt. Diablo to spectate the stage’s end, especially compared to last year’s madhouse, but good numbers were still on hand to cheer the mountain-top finish. An eight-man break formed only 5k from the start, and persisted, but was down to four by the final climb. Robbie Squire (Jamis Hagans Berman) and Luis Davila (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) put on a show of attacking, but were consumed by a group containing yellow jersey-clad Bradley Wiggins (Sky). After driving this lead group at a steady but blistering pace most of the way to the remaining road to the finish, Wiggins was unable to to respond to a final launch by Adam Yates (Orica Greenedge) of that sent Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) to a resounding win. Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) rounded out the podium for the day.

    Stage 4, Monterey to Cambria

    A last day of Tour racing on official NorCal pavement began in a relaxed atmosphere, for both fans and riders, on the coast. In spite of the oceanside setting, it was to be another warm day of racing. From the line, a group of six cleared the peloton, containing some riders interested in snatching KOM points along the route. Although the finish seemed a clear sprinter’s finish, the peloton seems to have misjudged the gap and did not succeed in catching the break. After cooperating immaculately, the group began to set attacks for the finish with about 3k to go. Vacuuming up most of the KOM points all day, Will Routley (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) finished a successful day with a well-played and hard-earned win. NorCal race fans will recall Routley as winner a local event, the Chico Stage Race, in March. Gregory Daniel (Bissell Development) and Kevin De Mesmaeker (Novo Nordisk) took the second and third podium steps.

     

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