A very strong start to the 2014 Tour of California today. After learning of the news that the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies women’s team had, earlier in the day, won the Overall Team Classification at the inaugural Women’s Tour of Britain, both men’s and women’s squads stateside were very motivated to continue the excellent results.
The day began early for men’s director Eric Wohlberg who gave a great recap of what to expect today for NBC news affiliate KCRA Channel 3 in Sacramento
Prior to the men’s race, a circuit race in downtown Sacramento for the women got things underway. Having a squad in the UK and California at the same time left the Optum p/b KBS team down to 3 riders for the first stage. However a great leadout from Annie Ewart put Brianna Walle into a potential winning position. She finished up 3rd on the stage.
The men’s race unfolded with strongman Will Routley placing himself into the early breakaway on the stage with 5 other riders. The plan evolved thanks to an early opportunity to go for the lead in the King of the Mountain competition and enjoy it uncontested for the next 2 days.
Optum’s Routley won the sole mountain sprint to take that jersey for the next two stages, finishing off the team’s plan heading into Monday’s time trial. “There was no shortage of wind today,” Routely said of the day’s major challenge. “We wanted to go for the KOM because we could have the jersey for two stages with no KOM tomorrow.”
Heavy crosswinds over the final 50km lead to numerous teams looking to take advantage and catch out some other GC contenders. A split in the field scooped up the breakaway and formed a dangerous 18 rider move heading back to Sacramento. However the teams that were not represented and the teams interested in a sprint came to the front of the peloton and brought things back to status quo for a bunch gallop.
The team worked hard to put USPRO Criterium champion Eric Young into position and he finished up 7th on the stage, a result that left him wanting more. Eric tweeted after the stage, “Pretty gutted I couldn’t come in better than 7th today @AmgenTourofCali for @OPTUMpbKBS This team has a lot of heart! #humanpoweredhealth”
Truly a great day after all.
Tomorrow’s Stage 2 Time Trial awaits in Folsom. USPRO Champion Tom Zirbel will look for a big result while wearing the stars and stripes as national champion.
Stage 1 Results:
1. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team 4:44:17
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano
3. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
5. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
6. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale
7. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
8. Mathew Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
9. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
10. John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
KOM Competition Standing:
1. Will Routley (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
2. Matt Cooke (USA) Jamis – Hagens Berman
3. Isaac Bolivar Hernandez (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
4. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Bissell Development Team
5. Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk