Quick-Step Floors animate Tour of California queen-stage
Jack Bauer and Matteo Trentin spent most of the day in the break, while neo-pros Enric Mas and Maximilian Schachmann finished in the top 20 on the excruciating Mt. Baldy.
As soon as the flag dropped for the 125.5km-long stage 5 of the Tour of California between Ontario and Mt. Baldy, no less than 24 riders jumped into the break, including two Quick-Step Floors boys, New Zealand ITT Champion Jack Bauer and multiple Grand Tour stage winner Matteo Trentin.
The large group, which quickly established a two-minute gap, was halved after the first KOM of the day, where riders began to get dropped. Bauer and Trentin continued to be part of the escape after Glendora Ridge and brought their fair share of work, helping the group stretch the advantage to five minutes thanks to their long and relentless pulls at the front.
The breakaway riders managed to keep the bunch at bay until the final 16 kilometers, when they got reabsorbed by the chasers just as things began to heat up in anticipation of Mt. Baldy, the tough climb (8.2 kilometers at an average gradient of 8.4%) on which Quick-Step Floors' Julian Alaphilippe emerged victorious two years ago en route to the white jersey and second overall.
Only a handful a riders were left to contest the win with five kilometers remaining, and after several accelerations which couldn't produce a solo winner and a subsequent cat-and-mouse game, in the end it was Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) who notched the victory, as the American beat race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), who was followed on the podium by George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Enric Mas – who is racing his fourth multi-day World Tour event of the season – showed again his potential on the climbs by finishing stage 5 on an honorable 14th place. Besides the 22-year-old Spaniard, Quick-Step Floors had another rider in the top 20, fellow neo-pro Max Schachmann, who'll now look to Friday's 24km time trial in Big Bear Lake to reduce the deficit and move up in the general classification, where he currently is 16th, three places behind Mas.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele