Images and words by Sam Wiebe
The queen stage of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California was a brutal route, consisting of two trips up one of the state’s most difficult roads on Mt. Baldy. The first half of the race served as a warm up of sorts, with the course ascending to 4500′ above sea level on Glendale Ridge Road. Then it was back down a winding descent into Glendora and back up for the “real” climb on Glendora Mountain Road to the 6500′ summit of Baldy. The climb inspires fear in the hearts of climbers and sprinters alike. It is relentless and steep, and provides almost zero recovery time. The peloton also faced rare weather conditions for Inland Empire, with temperatures peaking in the 40’s. The cold weather and fog were a remnant of the stage cancelling storm at Big Bear one day earlier, and provided a slight bit of relief for the peloton. It was a mentally and physically fatiguing day for the riders. Phil Gaimon finished 17th from an elite lead group of climbers and the stage was won by France’s newest rising star, 22-year old Julian Alaphilppe. The result moved Gaimon into 14th on general classification.
The team’s other hope for a result on Mt. Baldy, Mike Woods, suffered mightily in yesterday’s time trial and again on the queen stage, due to a stomach bug contracted earlier in the race. Lots of sleep and very little food led to Woods losing time on a course that would normally suit him perfectly, leaving the team looking forward to one last chance in the flat, sprinter friendly eighth and final stage from L.A. Live to Pasadena.Recovery
The Race After the Race
Little recognition is given to the mechanics and soignuers as they begin their work after the race is finished. For the mechanics that means washing every piece of equipment and vehicle to a spotless state. For the soignuers, it means massaging the athletes and preparing the food and hydration for the following stage. It is a vital part of stage racing.