Race leader going into stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California, Peter Sagan was to lose his yellow jersey by the end of the day after two riders from the early breakaway managed to stay clear and take the stage honours as well as the overall race lead. Behind these two, Peter put in a strong finish to take fourth on the stage, swapping the GC leader’s jersey for that of the points classification.
The two riders still out front in the final managed to hold onto the smallest of margins as the game of cat and mouse unfolded, but despite the peloton breathing down their necks they had enough to sprint for the stage victory between themselves and cross the line eight seconds ahead of what was left of the peloton.
“It was a really hard stage and we knew from the start that it would be tough to control the race but I’m proud of what the guys did today,” Sport Director Patxi Vila told us from the finish. “They were exceptional and everyone gave 110%. After winning yesterday and fourth today the guys can still be very happy.”
The stage got underway with a tough first category climb from the drop of the flag, rising for 14.1km at an average of 5.1%. The peloton wasn’t hanging around and the attacks soon started to fly with a group of nearly 30 riders moving clear with Peter present with support and the team in a strong position. This group edged out a 30 second advantage but over the top four riders pulled clear and that was to be the break of the day.
A second category climb soon followed and this was where the advantage started to rise, eventually reaching over seven minutes before Tinkoff really started to apply the pressure behind.
Vila explained the difficult but controlled start to the stage. “From the first climb the race exploded and the bunch was in pieces. There was a big group of about 30 in front and Peter was there with Juraj Sagan and Michael Gogl. After this the break went and gained over seven minutes before the guys brought it back down to 2’30”. The final few climbs started to take their toll and at this point the other teams took over the chase to help close the final gap. I don’t think we could have done much more today, and at the end Peter did a strong sprint to take fourth.”
The break of four was reduced to three on the final categorised climb of the day, a second ascent of Little Tujunga Canyon Road, with their advantage under three minutes. Peter was still well positioned at this point with brother Juraj for company on the ascent as many riders began to lose contact with the front peloton. At 10km to go it looked like all was set for a reduced bunch sprint with the gap down to just one minute, but the two remaining riders out front kept fighting to the end, just holding off the chase behind.
Stage 2 Result
1. Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling Team 3:52:09
2. Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling +00:00:00
3. Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha +00:00:08
4. Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff +00:00:08
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA) Trek Segafredo +00:00:08
33. Juraj Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff +00:00:08
47. Michael Gogl (AUT) Tinkoff +00:00:08
140. Nikolay Trusov (RUS) Tinkoff +00:18:03
141. Oscar Gatto (ITA) Tinkoff +00:18:03
142. Michael Kolar (SVK) Tinkoff +00:18:03
143. Erik Baška (SVK) Tinkoff +00:18:03
144. Adam Blythe (GBR) Tinkoff +00:18:03
31. Juraj Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff +00:00:24
54. Michael Gogl (AUT) Tinkoff +00:00:24
139. Adam Blythe (GBR) Tinkoff +00:18:19
141. Erik Baška (SVK) Tinkoff +00:18:34
142. Michael Kolar (SVK) Tinkoff +00:18:35
143. Nikolay Trusov (RUS) Tinkoff +00:18:58
144. Oscar Gatto (ITA) Tinkoff +00:20:10
Credits: Team Tinkoff