A day of suffering at the Tour of California
Crazy speeds and high temperatures, these were the main ingredients of a grueling day two.
The Tour of California riders started the second stage like there was no tomorrow, setting a fast tempo at the front and stretching out the peloton less than five kilometers from the gun. Not long after, 22 riders made their way into a huge break, including Etixx – Quick-Step's Maximiliano Richeze, and had a gap of 30 seconds as they approached the first – and most difficult – climb of the day, the 15-km long Angeles Crest. On the tough ramps of the first-category ascent it was all back together, but this didn't mean the tempo dropped, as the riders went full gas until the top, where Julian Alaphilippe claimed the points.
On the descent, William Barta (Axeon Cycling), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), Benjamin King (Cannondale) and Sindre Lunke (Giant-Alpecin) broke clear off the pack and worked hard to build a lead of more than seven minutes. The rolling terrain and high temperatures of over 35 C took their toll on many men, who lost contact on the next three ascents. The scorching heat saw the riders make countless visits to the team cars for bottles in order to stay hydrated and it also played into the favour of the escapees, the teams being reluctant to organize the chase.
As a result, although disintegrating on the last climb, the break made it until the finish in Santa Clarita, were Ben King won in a two-up sprint ahead of his countryman Evan Huffman. The bunch came just eight seconds later and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) rounded out the podium, while Tom Boonen was once again the best placed Etixx – Quick-Step rider, in 11th.
"Today we rode from South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, a short stage of 147 kilometers, but at the same time, an extremely tough one. The riders pushed some huge watts in the first hour and it only made things even more difficult. Because of this and the heat wave, everyone was tired today, and after a stage like that, it will be very important to recover properly, as other difficult days will come", said sport director Brian Holm.
The queen-stage of the Tour of California will take place on Wednesday, when the riders will go up Gibraltar road, a 12-km long hors-categorie climb averaging 8%, which will make its debut at the race.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele