U.S. National Champion Guarnier Wins Day One Of Amgen Breakaway From Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered With SRAM In South Lake Tahoe, With Inspired Ride From Storey
Men’s and Women’s Races and 250 of the World’s Best Cyclists Head to Folsom on Friday to Contest 12.6-mile Time Trial Course (Men’s ITT / Women’s TTT)
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. (May 19, 2016) – After a long day in the breakaway as the peloton cruised from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe, Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s Toms Skujiņš (LAT) led a group of three out ahead of the leaders, up the mountains where elevations approached 8,600 feet at the apex, and over the finish line at Heavenly Mountain Resort.
“It wasn’t easy to get in the break, of course, because people knew that the break might stick,” said Skujiņš. “I luckily managed to get in the right one.”
The speeds were high on the flattest part of today’s 131.7-mile course, the second longest of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California, as the peloton rolled out along Lodi’s vineyards and orchards, a reprieve before the rising altitudes approaching South Lake Tahoe, where crowds were 10 deep for long stretches.
A breakaway of 18 riders escaped at about 45 minutes into the race day and was holding a 3-minute advantage around today’s midway point. Cannondale’s Skujiņš attacked at Kirkwood summit, the first of three King of the Mountain (KOM) categorized climbs today. Now down to 16, the leaders had increased their lead to four minutes with 20 miles left to ride, and with the second KOM at Carson Pass in their sights.
BMC Racing Team picked up the pace between the two climbs, pulling the peloton to steadily close the gap, while 24 year-old Skujiņš, who claimed the mountainous San Jose stage and a three-day stint as race leader last year, launched a solo attack on the leaders at the front. He was soon joined by Rally Cycling’s Adam De Vos (CAN) and Team Sky’s Xabier Zandio (ESP), the oldest rider in the race at 39.
The three quickly built their lead to nearly one minute over the remaining breakaway riders. The peloton containing Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) wearing the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, and World Champion Peter Sagan (SVK) of Tinkoff was about three minutes back from the leaders with less than 10 miles to go.
With less than four miles left to ride, the chase group remained about 50 seconds back from the race leaders, splintering with various attacks and counters to pull it back together. The three leaders held strong on the final uphill mile to Heavenly Mountain Resort, all vying for the stage win, withSkujiņš ultimately coming to the line the clear winner of the day ahead of De Vos and then Zandio. In addition to the stage win, Skujiņš came away from today’s stage with the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
Riding in the main peloton today, Tinkoff's Peter Sagan (SVK) retains the Visit California Sprint Jersey. The SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey stays with Roseville, Calif. native, Neilson Powless (USA) of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team for the third consecutive day, and Rally Cycling’sEvan Huffman (USA) retains the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey, which he’s worn since Stage 3.
The leader board remains mostly in tact after today, with Alaphilippe retaining the overall lead by 22 seconds over Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina (USA), followed by George Bennett (NZL) of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, who held onto third place overall despite a flat tire on the descent of the second KOM today, and BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter (USA) in fourth; Team Giant-Alpecin’s Laurens ten Dam (NED) moves up to fifth place.
Today also 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.
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.
“The Amgen Tour of California provides an opportunity to raise awareness of some of the world’s most serious illnesses, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease,” said Raymond C. Jordan, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs, Amgen. “Our sponsorship also allows us to connect with patients through programs running in tandem with the race, such as the national Breakaway from Cancer® initiative.”
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.
As part of the today’s activities, Stockton resident, cancer survivor Theresa Larson participated on the sign-in stage and fired the official start gun, and Tahoe’s Stuart Jedd presented Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey to Toms Skujiņš.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
Thurs., May 19 – Folsom Time Trials
Women’s Team Time Trial
Start Time: 10:30 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 12:03 p.m. PDT
Men’s Individual Time Trial
Start Time: 12:50 p.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 and the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM
The Amgen Tour of California and Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM are Tour de France-style cycling road races created and presented by AEG that challenge the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along demanding courses that traverse 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. More information is available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.
The 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. This year, the 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).
About Breakaway from Heart Disease™
Amgen created Breakaway from Heart Disease™ as a complementary component to the Amgen Tour of California. The collective goal of the campaign is to fundamentally change the future of America's heart health by helping people to find out more about their family's history of heart disease and encouraging them to get active through cycling. For more information, visit www.breakawayfromheartdisease.com
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.
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
Diana Valdez, Golin