The Amgen Tour of California is the second stage race within the UCI Women's WorldTour and the first event to be held in the US.
The four stage race consists of a 117km road race, a 20km Team Time Trial, 111km road race and a shorter 66km circuit race over 20 laps of a short, flat course.
The number one prize of course is the Yellow General Classification Jersey, but riders will also compete for the Green Sprinters Jersey, QOM Climbers Jersey and Young Rider Jersey. There's a Most Courageous Jersey up for grabs, too to keep the racing interesting.
With stages circling the stunning Lake Tahoe, this event promises beautiful views as well as some tough ascents along the way. We'll be bringing stage by stage updates...
Guarnier wins as Dame Storey Shows Strength in Stage One
Megan Guarnier of Boels-Dolmans clinched the win at the first stage of the Women’s Amgen Tour of California yesterday, drawing out a sizeable gap over the final climb to finish solo.
Guanier, the only US female cyclist with a secure slot at the Rio Olympic Games this summer, crossed the line four seconds ahead of Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5) in second and ten seconds in front of third place Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16) in third.
The 117km road race was made nailbitingly exciting by an attack from Dame Sarah Storey, who rode away from the peloton after the first QOM climb despite strong winds – and gusts up to 40mph.
Storey, also the joint manager for Podium Ambition, broke away and held her gap right up until around 15 kilometres to go. In fact, despite testing conditions, she built up a lead of almost five minutes at its greatest – a showing of sheer strength and a fantastic sign ahead of the Paralympics this summer.
The peloton splintered into groups as chasers began to work to pull back Storey, who despite being alone in tough conditions, was starting to look like a contender for the top step.
After over two hours of solo effort, Storey was brought back to the peloton, and the leaders began to prepare for the finale.
With the final climb ahead, Boels-Dolmans prepared their riders by taking to the head of the group, setting Guarnier up to sprint for the line.
Guarnier, the US National Champion and third place Richmond World Championships finisher, said after the race:
“I haven’t really let it sink in yet. It feels pretty good. It gives me a little confidence. I’m happy I could finish off the hard work the girls did today. Their day was not easy."
Stage 1 results and highlights video
- 1. Megan GUARNIER, BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM, in 3:05:09
- 2. Emma JOHANSSON, WIGGLE HIGH5, at :04
- 3. Kristin ARMSTRONG, T16, at :10
- 4. Evelyn STEVENS, BOELS DOLMANS CYCLING TEAM, at :10
- 5. Marianne VOS, RABOLIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM, at :10
- 6. Rossella RATTO, CYLANCE PRO CYCLING, at :16
- 7. Coryn RIVERA, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :16
- 8. Shara GILLOW, RABOLIV WOMEN CYCLING TEAM, at :18
- 9. Tayler WILES, USA, at :18
- 10. Katie HALL, UNITEDHEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL CYCLING TEAM, at :18
Bag of Surprises at Stage Two TTT but Guarnier Retains Lead
Stage two of the Tour of California was a 20km Team Time Trial. TTT experts Canyon//SRAM were looking hopeful, and Boels-Dolmans were of course hoping to hold onto the Yellow Jersey with a strong performance.
In the end, however, it was US team Twenty16-Ridebiker who clinched the victory with a time of 27.33, six seconds ahead of Boels-Dolmans, with United Healthcare in third, RaboLiv in fourth and Canyon//SRAM fifth.
The win shouldn't have been that much of a surprise, with the team hosting Kristin Armstrong, who was third in stage one and also won the 2012 Olympic Time Trial as well as the 2015 National title.
The TT was quite unique, in that organisers did not allow time trial bikes which would have thrown a lot of experienced riders off. Time trialling on a road bike is just... different.
Some argue that this is simply a way to keep the race fair for all teams - whilst others suggest that any team bike sponsor backing a UCI Women's World Tour race should be able to provide time trial bikes and that questioning this implies a greater problem in the set up.
Speaking after the race, Lisa Brennauer of Canyon//SRAM said: "Of course this was not our best TTT and being on road bikes is quite different. But for sure we are not happy with the result and the outcome of the TTT. There were no major mistakes, although there was one corner we took too fast and we had to find each other again, but overall there were not obvious major mistakes. It’s just that as a group we weren’t strong enough so we couldn’t get any better than fifth place today."
Megan Guarnier retains the GC and Sprint jerseys and gained the QOM jerseys. Beols-Dolmans commented after the race saying: "We came into today’s stage really wanting to win the team time trial. With that goal in mind, that’s how we wanted to stay in yellow. We’re a little bit disappointed with second place, but we’re happy knowing we did our best. You can’t ask for more, and I know the girls had a really hard day yesterday having to chase. Their work yesterday put me in yellow, and the work today means we keep it."
Chloe Dygert Twenty16-Ridebiker Cycling Team now wears the best young rider's jersey and Dame Sarah Storey retains the Most Courageous.
The top ten results were:
- 1. Twenty16 – Ridebiker, in 27:33.8
- 2. Boels Dolmans Cyclingteam, at :.17
- 3. Unitedhealthcare Professional Women’S Cycling Team, at :4.16
- 4. Raboliv Womencyclingteam, at :3.39
- 5. Canyon Sram Racing, at :5.34
- 6. Team Tibco – Silicon Valley Bank, at :4.46
- 7. Wiggle High5, at :7.2
- 8. Hitec Products, at 1:07.77
- 9. Podium Ambition Pro Cycling P/b Club La Santa, at 1:11.23
- 10. Colavita/bianchi, at 1:50.96
Check out the video from the stage...
Vos Takes Biggest Win After Injury Lay-Off at Stage Three
Marianne Vos achieved her highest profile win yet since returning to racing after her extended lay-off, by claiming the third stage at the Tour of California.
With Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) still in Yellow and leading the GC, teams began to turn their focus to individual stage wins - and it was Vos who grabbed this one for Rabo Liv over the 111km course.
The win was far from effortless, however - Vos and her team mates had to work hard to claw back a break that formed after Wiggle High5's climbing expert Mara Abbott broke away on the second QOM stretch on Coleman Road.
Abbott gained around 30 seconds on the peloton, and then she was joined by a select group of GC contenders. The key teams were represented in the break, except Rabo Liv - meaning that others within the rear bunch had little incentive to chase and the gap rose to 90 seconds.
However, Vos' team mate Shara Gillow put herself into the pain cave pulling Vos back into contention. The peloton came back together with 20km to go, and Vos was able to recover and prepare for a bunch sprint.
Posting on Instagram after the race, Vos said: "When team mate @sharagillow rides her *** off for you to catch the lead group for the final sprint, all you can do is thank her with a win & a hug afterwards. Very happy to take stage 3 @amgentocwomen after a strong ride by the whole team. Tough day at the office, but 'it ain't over until it's over.'"
One place behind Vos was United Healthcare rider Coryn Rivera, with Wiggle High5's Emma Johannson in third.
With just one, shorter stage to go, Megan Guarnier remains in the GC jersey with a 15 second lead over Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16 - Ridebiker), also retaining the sprint jersey, whilst the climber's jersey goes to Mara Abbott - as well as the most combatative. In the best young rider competition, Chloe Dygert of Twenty16 Ridebiker Cycling Team still leads.
|1||Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team||2:52:51|
|2||Coryn Rivera (USA) UnitedHealthcare Women|
|3||Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle High5|
|4||Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team|
|5||Brianna Walle (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|6||Alena Amialiusik (Blr) Canyon-SRAM|
|7||Heather Fischer (USA) Rally Cycling|
|8||Chloe Dygert (USA) Twenty16 - Ridebiker|
|9||Lauren Stephens (USA) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
|10||Danielle King (GBr) Wiggle High5|
Check out the video highlights....
Wild Wins in Hectic Sprint of Final Stage
After three days of racing the peloton embarked upon the 70km circuit race in Sacramento city with gusto.
Boels Dolmans, home to Megan Guarnier who had held the leader's jersey since Stage One, were keen to protect her lead and most of the key teams were eyeing up a mass finish.
Though a few attempted attacks were launched, the race came down to a bunch sprint and it was Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) who had the most powerful legs.
With a few laps to go, teams with sprint specialists began to set up their single colour trains at the front of the bunch.
Lisa Brennauer (Canyon//SRAM) and Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) both looked to be in a good position, but Kirstin Wild's powerful pedal strokes were just too strong and she whizzed past to take the win.
Boels Dolmans had some hopes of setting up Chantal Blaak for a stage win, as well as protecting Guarnier to ensure her safe passage to the GC win. A hectic, fast paced final meant they weren't able to achieve the first goal but of course Guarnier arrived at the finish still in the lead - winning a brand new Lexus car.
As well as winning the event (and the car), Guarnier also moves into first place in the UCI Women's World Tour standings. She said: “This one is up there – being in America, winning a Women’s WorldTour event, taking the leader’s jersey. It’s definitely a career highlight. My standout moment was the stage one win because that’s what put us in a position to win the entire race. It was a beautiful team tactic."
At the end of stage four, Chloe Dygert of Twenty16 Ridebiker Cycling Team retained the Young Rider jersey, Mara Abbott of Wiggle High 5 wore the QOM Jersey, and Shara Gallow of Rabo Liv had the Most Courageous jersey. Guarnier had the sprint jersey, as well as the GC.
Here's the top ten for the stage...
|1||Kirsten Wild (Ned) Hitec Products|
|2||Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Canyon-SRAM|
|3||Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team|
|4||Coryn Rivera (USA) UnitedHealthcare Women|
|5||Amy Pieters (Ned) Wiggle High5|
|6||Valentina Scandolara (Ita) Cylance Pro Cycling|
|7||Ruth Winder (USA) USA National Team|
|8||Ilaria Sanguineti (Ita) Bepink|
|9||Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team|
|10||Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank|
That's all from California for now. The next race in the WWT series is the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic on June 5.