Longest Ride of the 8-day Stage Race on Tap Tomorrow with 133.6-mile Route from Morro Bay to Monterey County’s Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. (May 17, 2016) – The leader jersey changed hands for the third time in three days at the 2016 Amgen Tour of California, with Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) clutching the Queen Stage victory with a determined push up the final steeply sloped meters of Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County. The 23 year-old French rider who won last year’s Mount Baldy stage and placed second overall, just three seconds from top finisher Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), has clearly found California climbs to his liking.
“Today was really hard, everyone waiting the last climb for the big fight, so I was a little bit nervous we arrived here [at the final climb]”, said Alaphilippe. “I wanted to wait until the last moment because I don’t know my condition after the break, so I’m really, really happy to win today.”
Soon after the peloton of 144 took off from Thousand Oaks, home to title sponsor Amgen, a breakaway group of seven emerged. Nearly four hours and 95 miles later, that group dwindled to two Americans still out front on the approach to Gibraltar: Axeon Hagens Berman’s 21 year-old Greg Daniel (Denver, Colo.) and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Tanner Putt (Boulder, Colo.). Daniel attacked for a solo stint heading into the infamous 7.5-mile climb up Gibraltar Road, earning the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey today.
The chase group was pulled up the mountain by Cannondale Pro Cycling Team in support of Lawson Craddock (USA), with BMC Racing Team for Brent Bookwalter (USA) and Alaphilippe also within the pack of 20+ riders.
Two miles into the climb, the youngest rider in the peloton, Axeon Hagens Berman’s Neilson Powless (age 19) from Roseville, Calif. took the lead, creating a gap that grew to 15 and then 30 seconds with less than three miles to ride.
“On the final climb I felt really good. I was in the top three riders getting into the climb. After maybe 2K [kilometers] on the climb I looked back and noticed that there was a really large gap,” said Powless. “I just decided to keep it steady and see how long I could go, and it turned out to be a really successful ride, and gave me a lot of confidence just to know that I can climb like that, because in the past I haven’t seen myself as a top, top climber. So, yeah, I have a lot of confidence going into the next couple days.”
Strong climbers Lachlan Morton (AUS) of San Diego-based Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis and Peter Stetina (USA) of Trek – Segafredo made a move to catch Powless with 2.7 miles left. Stetina, who is coming back from a severe leg injury, soon escaped to a solo lead and hung on through the 10 percent average grade of the final mile until Alaphilippe attacked in the last quarter-mile, overtaking Stetina and also the Amgen Race Leader Jersey with his win today. Stetina, who resides in two of this year’s Host Cities – Santa Rosa and Lake Tahoe – finished the stage in second place, followed by George Bennett (NZL) of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo in third and Santa Rosa-based BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter (USA) in fourth. After his tremendous effort, Powless ended the day in fifth place.
Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman (Elk Grove, Calif.), who took second place on Stage 2 yesterday, joined the breakaway to gather KOM points on the first three categorized climbs of the day to retain the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey.
A crash at the bottom of Gibraltar Road today took Team Sky’s Peter Kennaugh (GBR), a favorite for today’s stage, out of the race with a suspected broken collarbone.
Celebrating its 11th year, the Amgen Tour of California is the most esteemed stage race in the U.S. Amgen has been the title sponsor of the race since its first year.
“Amgen was born and is still headquartered in Thousand Oaks, the beautiful backdrop for today’s start of the Amgen Tour of California. Our staff members here and around the world come to work every day motivated by the chance to make a dramatic difference in the lives of patients,” said Raymond C. Jordan, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Amgen. “At Amgen, we are proud of the fact that the Amgen Tour of California has become synonymous with celebrating cancer survivors, thanks to Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative and we are pleased to leverage the popularity of the race with the launch of our new campaign, Breakaway from Heart Disease™.”
Founded by Amgen in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, Breakaway from Cancer continues to raise awareness of the important resources available to people impacted by cancer – from prevention to survivorship. For more information about Breakaway from Cancer, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
A partnership with Amgen, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Schwinn Bicycles, Breakaway from Heart Disease is an easy and fun way to get active in support of heart health. If you can’t attend an event in person, join the ride virtually by uploading your bicycling photo and pledging your miles. Each time a photo is submitted, you will be entered to win a set of Schwinn bikes; each photo submission will also trigger a $1 donation to the American Heart Association. Go to www.BreakawayFromHeartDisease.com to join the movement and learn more about what you can do today to help improve heart health for tomorrow.
Wed., May 18 – Morro Bay to Monterey County’s Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway
Start Time: 10:10 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:45 p.m. PDT
Amgen Tour of California fans can catch the action daily with live coverage of the race on NBC Sports Network (live conclusion on NBC on May 22), follow along on the Microsoft Tour Tracker App for mobile and desktop, and connect with the race through all of their favorite social media platforms. Links are available at the Social drop-down menu at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com and fans can use #AMERICASGREATESTRACE to join the conversation.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California's iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2 HC, meaning "beyond category"), awarding important, world-ranking points to the top finishers. More information is available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.
This year, the men’s course will cover 782 miles over eight days through 12 host cities, including San Diego (first-time host), South Pasadena (first-time host), Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara County, Morro Bay (first-time host), Monterey County, Lodi, South Lake Tahoe (first-time host), Folsom, Santa Rosa and Sacramento. The Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM will run for the latter half of the men’s race (May 19-22) as the U.S. debut event on the inaugural UCI Women's WorldTour (WWT).
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential. For more information, visit http://www.amgen.com and follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.
Founder and operators of the Amgen Tour of California and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, AEG is the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company. With offices on five continents, AEG operates in the following business segments: AEG Facilities, which owns, manages or consults with more than 120 preeminent arenas, stadiums, theaters, clubs and convention centers around the world including The O2 Arena, the Sprint Center and the Mercedes-Benz Arenas; AEG Live, which is dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performances, including producing and promoting global and regional concert tours, music and special events and world-renowned festivals; AEG Real Estate, which develops world-class venues, as well as major sports and entertainment districts like STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE; AEG Sports, which is the world’s largest operator of sports franchises and high-profile sporting events; and AEG Global Partnerships, which oversees worldwide sales and servicing of sponsorships including naming rights, premium seating and other strategic partnerships. Through its worldwide network of venues, portfolio of powerful sports and music brands, AXS.com ticketing platform, AXS cable television channel and its integrated entertainment districts, AEG entertains more than 100 million guests annually. More information about AEG can be found at www.aegworldwide.com.
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Michael Roth, AEG
Josh Levitt, Canvas Blue