Amgen Tour of California | Women’s Race Stage 1
An epic day on the road battling the wind and altitude as the stage took the race around the beautiful Lake Tahoe.
Thursday marked the start of the four-stage Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease™ Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM, a 197.8-mile road race that was selected as the first of only two U.S. events on the first-ever UCI Women’s WorldTour.
Eighteen teams containing the best women cyclists in the sport, including the all-time winningest women’s cyclist Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv Women Cycling Team) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong (TWENTY16 – Ridebiker), lined up this morning for a 72.7-mile ride around Lake Tahoe, beginning and ending on the same mark at Heavenly Mountain Resort where the men would finish two hours later.
The peloton of 106 was still together heading into the Emerald Bay QOM climb but the climb split the peloton into three groups. Riding for Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa, Sarah Storey, Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian in history including six gold medals in cycling to her credit, took the opportunity to attack at the descent, creating a gap as she rocketed down the mountain at over 40 mph that increased to more than five minutes over the peloton after two hours of racing.
The final descent before the second QOM to the finish saw the peloton steadily closing the gap to Storey, with Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team leading the charge at the front and reaching her with about three miles left to ride. Storey, who was born without a functioning left hand and holds 18 Para-Cycling World Championship titles, was awarded the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey today.
“We wanted to be in the break today, it just so happened that it was a solo break,” said Storey.
Rally Cycling and Team TIBCO-SVB took turns at the front heading into the final mile and climb to the finish, which averages 6 percent gradient (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Oakland, Calif.-based rider Katie Hall won a similar stage here last year). This time, another American rider and current National Champion
Megan Guarnier (Glen Falls, New York) of Boels-Dolmans pulled ahead of the pack to claim the first stage of the 2016 women’s race and the Amgen Race Leader Jersey as well as the Visit California Sprint Jersey. Guarnier also is the UCI fourth-ranked cyclist and will represent the U.S. at the Summer Olympic Games.
“Today Sarah Story made a great effort off the front. She went early and the gap ballooned up to five minutes and thirty seconds, and we were trying to wait and to see what teams would take initiative,” said Guarnier. “It ended up being our team, Boels-Dolmans.”
UCI’s top-ranked Emma Johansson (SWE) of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling came four seconds behind to take second place, followed across the line seconds later by Kristin Armstrong (Memphis, Tenn.) of TWENTY16 – Ridebiker in third, and World Champions Evelyn Stevens (USA) of Boels-Dolmans in fourth and Marianne Vos (NED) of Rabo-Liv in fifth.
Other prizes today go to Rally Cycling’s Sara Poidevin (CAN), who will wear the Lexus Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey going into stage two tomorrow, and Cylance Pro Cycling’s Rossella Ratto (ITA) was awarded the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey.
Stage 1 Podium
Stage 1 Jersey Winners
Amgen Leader Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Sara Poidevin (CAN), Rally Cycling (USA)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Rossella Ratto (ITA), Cylance Pro Cycling (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Sarah Storey (GBR), Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa (GBR)