Today’s stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California was 165 km from Monterey to Cambria and undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking stages anywhere in the World.
The general plan for the day was to send Will up the road once again, to further pad his King of the Mountain lead. The route had three KOMs at 55 (cat 4), 119 (cat 4) and 125 (cat 3) km. 14 points were available if a single rider was to win all three. Will was ready to make an effort for the first 125 km and then see what transpired after the final climb of the day.
After covering several early moves that would not stick, the team waited for a great opportunity to present itself. After 15 or so km a move went, primarily driven by Johnny Clarke (who was also in the hunt for the KOM jersey) and his teammate Chris Jones (UHC). They had a Bissell, Novo Nordisk and Jamis rider with them. The Yellow jersey seemed to be content to let the escape go. Sensing the opportunity, Will was launched across to the move by teammates Brad Huff and Alex Candelario. The gap quickly went to 3:45 and we were good to go.
Will did his fare share of the work in the move but his breakaway companions weren’t about to make his point gathering easy.
On the first KOM the whole group raced, but Will stayed calm and powerfully rode over the top of everyone to win the maximum points. The second KOM was also contested by most of the break, and once again Will stamped his authority over the top, handily gapping them all at the line. On the final KOM of the day, the group seemed resigned to being beaten and Will easily took the final 1st place points.
Most of the teams figured today was another chance for the sprinters, and it was clear the Pro Tour teams intended to close any gap down after the final KOM. The differential going into the final 30 km was hovering around 3 minutes. Using the basic formula of taking the gap down by 1 minute each 10 km, it looked like the breakaway would be caught. However some savy sandbagging by the break early on and some strong (tail) winds of fortune changed the math.
The break motored to the line at 60 kph and the field did not have the speed to capture them, simply running out of road. Will marked out the two UHC riders in the final 3 km and did all he could to position himself for the final sprint. With 300m to go Will was well placed in the line up, and then with 200m to go, he jumped and rode everyone off his wheel to win the stage.
Our team’s effort so far has put Will very solidly in the Climbers Jersey, earned him the Points jersey and we have a stage win in the 2014 TOC. Carter Jones remains in 8th overall after a stellar climb up Mt. Diablo yesterday.