One of the many reasons the Amgen Tour of California is known as “America’s Greatest Race” is because it showcases the extraordinary athletic talents of some of the world’s greatest cyclists. After a struggling Slovak arrived in California last May, Peter Sagan had a career year by winning the tenth anniversary Amgen Tour of California by the slimmest of margins before surprising yet again last fall when he pounced to win the UCI Road World Championship. On Saturday, 2015 Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial winner Evelyn Stevens rewrote the history books to become the new UCI Hour Record holder.
Forty-eight hours after winning the Tour of Qatar, Mark Cavendish was back home in England spending Valentine’s Day with his wife, Peta Todd. As the couple drove through the Tottenham Hale section north of London, they came upon a female cyclist stranded at the side of the road struggling with cold hands to change a flat tire. The former UCI World Champion and multi-time Amgen Tour of California stage winner hopped out of the car, popped out the deflated front wheel and changed the tire for her. The gentlemanly gesture capped an eventful week for the Manx Missile. On Friday, Cav earned a time bonus for his second place finish on stage 5 that enabled him to retain the yellow jersey on his shoulders as the GC winner. He won the opening stage, gave up the jersey after Wednesday’s stage 3 individual time trial to his Dimension Data teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen and took it back for good on Thursday after Boasson Hagen suffered a rare double puncture in the final 10km of Stage 4. It wasn’t the way he wanted to win the overall, which he felt belonged to his Norwegian teammate, but Cavendish proved himself to be a classy champion – both in and out of competition.
Four former Amgen Tour of California winners have been in the news this week so let’s take a look at what’s going on with Michael Rogers, Chris Horner, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Trixi Worrack.
Last year’s inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered by SRAM was a sensational success showcasing a peloton filled with the world’s fastest female cyclists competing in a three-day stage race followed by an invitational time trial event. The ante is being upped in a big way in 2016 as the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered by SRAM, taking place May 19-22, is part of the inaugural UCI Women’s WorldTour and will include the first ever women’s team time trial as Stage 2 of America’s Greatest Race.
Pro cycling is a little poorer with the early retirement of UCI World Champion Greta Neimanas. One of the reasons the Amgen Tour of California was created was to showcase inspiring athletic achievement and the Twenty16 rider is as inspiring as any athlete who has ever pedaled a bicycle. Neimanas is categorized as a paracyclist, but she is a cyclist pure and simple - and a courageous pioneer to boot. The 27-year-old Evanston, Illinois native was the first American and only the second female paracyclist ever to sign a contract with a professional cycling team. Neimanas was also the first paracyclist ever to compete in the Amgen Tour of California.
Mother Nature played havoc on the women’s peloton last Sunday (July 26) at the second La Course by Le Tour de France. With the eyes of the entire cycling world focused on Paris’s stunning Champs-Élysées ahead of the Tour de France concluding Stage 21, the skies opened up turning the iconic cobbled streets comprising the 7km circuit into a virtual ice rink. Although it hadn’t rained on the Champs-Élysées for the men’s Tour finish in more than a decade, the women’s affair was crash-marred yet it didn’t dampen the fighting spirit of the turbo-charged world-class athletes participating in the sporting spectacle in front of thousands of spectators lining the course, including Amgen Tour of California executives Kristin Klein and Ryan Ung.