Alex Candelario, participating in his 7th Amgen Tour of California, finished 7th place in the first stage, a boiling hot 102 mile trek which saw the riders tackle over 8,000 feet of climbing on a loop covering both Mt. Palomar and the 7% incline Cole Grade. Temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit at the start line and didn’t let up, making hydration and energy conservation the two keys to the race for a peloton that saw 50 percent of the riders finish over 10 minutes behind stage winner Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling.
“This was a tough start to a tough stage race – the temperatures made everything exponentially harder, but our guys held it together pretty well and Cando had an excellent finish considering the variables today,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “Marsh Cooper did a great job working himself into the early breakaway and fighting for KOM points as well, and everyone in the peloton will get to battle through more heat and more big climbs in the coming days.”
Marsh Cooper, racing in his first Tour of California, worked himself into an early 4-man breakaway that gained over 10 minutes on the chasing peloton. Things rapidly disintegrated once things turned vertical on Mt. Palomar, and Cooper was able to hang tight in the group until the steep push up Cole Grade eliminated the breakaway’s advantage once and for all.
Candelario, a native of the southwest, was able to brush off the heat and stay put in the lead group, along with Optum p/b KBS’ rising star Chad Haga, heading into the final, flatter section of the course on the run into downtown Escondido in good position.
“We had high hopes for Cando in the sprint, as he had out-climbed almost every sprinter in the race,” said Carney. “However, two riders snuck away inside 5 kilometers to go, and there was not a concerted chase. The two riders made it to the line and Candelario finished 5th from the field to take home 7th on the day.”
Candelario said after the race of his liquid intake: “I lost count after fifteen bottles, and I didn’t pee once.”
Tomorrow, the pain game continues with temperatures slated to reach 106 degrees at the finish line in Palm Springs.
“The heat took it’s toll on a lot of riders today, and tomorrow it will be over 100 degrees again,” said Carney. “This time the finish will be on a very steep 6 kilometer climb that will decide much of the general classification. We’re hoping that Haga can have another good day and show off his ability against the biggest teams in the world.”
Jonas Carney’s race report from Stage 1:
Today the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team competed in the first stage of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California. The stage was a brutally hot 102 mile stage race with over 8,000 feet of climbing. The temperatures at the start were over 100 degrees and never let off. Our plan was to send someone in the early break to try for the KOM jersey and save everyone else for a likely field sprint. We expected the World Tour teams to let a break go early, set tempo over the big climbs and bring it to a select field sprint and that’s almost exactly what happened. It was blazing from the gun and Marsh Cooper was on the attack and represented our team in the long bomb break. Everyone else settled in for a long hot day. Marsh battled his breakaway teammates and picked up a number of KOM points but was unable take the jersey today and currently sits in 3rd in that competition.After the big climb of the day, Palomar mountain, the pace picked up. When the field hit Cole Grade, a brutally steep and exposed climb, it exploded. Lots of riders were struggling with the heat at this point and it was strange to see so many World Tour riders falling off the pace. Coop came out of the break and was caught by the field. We lost four riders including Hanson on that climb. They chased hard with Garmin and Saxo to bring the sprinters back and came within 40 seconds of the peloton before the chase fell apart.
It was down to Cando and Haga in a 50 man group and we had high hopes for Cando in the sprint as he had out climbed almost every sprinter in the race. However, two riders snuck away inside 5k to go and there was not a concerted chase. The two riders made it to the line and Candelario finished 5th from the field to take home 7th on the day.It was a tough day for the team and the heat took it’s toll on a lot of riders. Tomorrow it will be over 100 degrees again and this time the finish will be on a 6 kilometer climb that will decide much of the GC. We’re hoping that Haga can have a good day and show what he has against the biggest teams in the world.
The heat distressed the majority of the field today though Candelario’s finish showed that he was able to handle the conditions pretty well. Alexander Candelario paused in the shaded finish, and dumped water over his head, letting it run down his face. Asked how hot it felt, he laughed.
“In the overall picture, I think it wasn’t that hot. But I think it’s the first hot day for everyone, so it was really hot,” he said. He lost track of how much water he’d drunk after 15 bottles.
At the post-stage press conference, the race’s chief medical officer, Ramin Modabber, M.D., related that the average team goes through 120 bottles of water on a stage like today. One director he pulled up next to on the course had gone through 40 bottles (5 per rider) in the first 50 kilometers. Modabber added that riders will consume on average approximately 8 liters of fluid during a stage like today. About half of that is water and the other half would typically include some type of energy/electrolyte solution – too much of either will not replace what is lost and can lead to dramatic reductions in performance.
Other measures taken by riders include ice bags or ice stuffed into socks which are placed down the back of a rider’s jersey in order to lower core body temperature – similarly pouring cold water over one’s head/helmet and clothing can further lower core temperature. After the race, the riders will sit in cold baths, pools or showers to further reduce core body temperature when necessary to enhance recovery. The race organizers also take measures to protect the riders from excess heat by allowing them to ‘feed’ from their team vehicles much earlier in the race than typically allowed to account for the increased consumption of fluids.