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"When we climbed, I was breathing harder than I would normally, but I was in Mammoth Lakes, California before this, so I knew I had a big advantage. Training at altitude definitely paid off in the end.”



20.05.2016 @ 01:47 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One year after taking a hugely surprising breakaway win at the race, Toms Skujins (Cannondale) continued his love affair with the Tour of California by taking his first victory as a pro on stage 5 of the American race. Having joined a big 18-rider group after a hectic start, he made it into the trio that sprinted for the win on the final climb where he held off Adam De Vos (Rally) and Xabier Zandio (Sky). Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) won the peloton’s sprint and so retained the lead on the eve of the time trial.


We have gathered several reactions.


Altitude training pays off for Skujins on tough day in Califnronia

Toms Skujins rode himself into the early breakaway, launched multiple attacks from the escape and proved fastest in a three-up uphill sprint to take out stage five of the Amgen Tour of California in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday. It’s the second stage win of the week for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and the second year straight that the 24-year-old from Latvia has parlayed a breakaway ride into a stage win.
“It’s brilliant to take the victory,” said Skujins. “To get into the break, you have to try at least a couple of times. I knew that the altitude was going to make people suffer, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the steepest hills that the race would be blown to bits. It was a good day for the breakaway. I was really happy I could get into the move, and of course, I was happy to take out the win.”
An 18-rider breakaway escaped 23-kilometers from the stage start in Lodi. Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep) was the best placed rider on the general classification at 4:19. With 16 of the race’s 18 teams represented in the escape, it was a move with staying power. Initially, the group worked well together to build an advantage.
“It’s never easy getting into the break on a day like today,” noted Skujins. “People know it might stick, and everyone wants in. Once we were away, we built up as big of an advantage as we could, and I tried to save as much energy as possible.”
When the breakaway’s gap ballooned beyond five minutes, a handful of teams began to half-heartedly give chase. The gap fell slowly as the breakaway headed toward Carson Pass.
“It was a really long and really hard ride in the breakaway,” said Skujins. “Not only did we cover 212 kilometers, but there was over 13,000 feet of climbing. That’s a lot.”

“There was a tailwind most of the day, which makes it a bit easier and a bit faster,” Skujins added. “The climbs weren’t steep but with the altitude, they were painful. You’re slowly going up, up, up. I definitely felt the altitude. When we climbed, I was breathing harder than I would normally, but I was in Mammoth Lakes, California before this, so I knew I had a big advantage. Training at altitude definitely paid off in the end.”
Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling) was the first to attack the breakaway, jumping to take mountain points on the Kirkwood summit. Skujins was quick to follow, and the sudden lift in pace on the steep ascent caused a split in the breakaway.
The breakaway regrouped on the descent, but de Vos jumped again over Carson Pass. Again the front group split, and eight riders went clear. About ten kilometers later, the chasers rejoined the leaders.
Skujins went on the attack 32 kilometers from the finish. Alone briefly, he was eventually joined by de Vos and Xabier Zondo (Team Sky).
“I knew I had to make a selection because I knew if we came to the last 15 kilometers together the attacks would be constant,” Skujins explained. “It would cost a lot more energy to respond to attack after attack than to make one big effort and invest in making that stick.”
“When I attacked the second time and was solo before the sprint, I started to worry I had made a mistake,” Skujins admitted. “I turned into a massive headwind and was using a lot of energy there. That’s why I waited for those two guys chasing behind.”
The trio complimented each other perfectly, trading pulls in the wind and over the lumps and bumps all the way to the finish. It was only in the final kilometer as the road kicked up toward the line that the collaboration waned.

De Vos was the first to jump, but Skujins had plenty left in the legs to respond and enough of a gap before the line to throw a victory salute as he crossed the finish.


“It wasn't easy to get into the break, of course, because people knew that the break might stick, and we were covering moves pretty good. I luckily managed to get in the right one. We had a pretty big group. As is always the case with big groups, not everyone was committed. Of course, that's understandable because people have different objectives for different days, but in the end it worked out pretty well.


"The break wasn't working that well together, especially on the downhills we were just losing time. No one was pulling and we would go down without even pedaling. So I knew that guys were suffering at altitude. I knew I wouldn't be able to win if we came together in the last 15km because it would be attack after attack.


"Once I hit the second climb and the two guys bridged up, we were pretty much in the clear.

“I was pretty sure we could hold off the peloton. Pretty sure I could hold on to the line, anyway.


"We heard that Jasper was coming up, but you know that at altitude after an effort like that even if he comes up he’s going to be cooked, so no one was really worried. We just kind of looked at each other for a bit, and I wasn’t sure how far we were so I didn’t really want to start my sprint too early, especially at altitude. But once we came around the corner I was pretty sure I could get this.”

“I have to say, I like Lodi,” Skujins added. “I’ve raced Tour of California for the last two years, and both times there have been stages that started in Lodi, and both times I’ve won.


"Two wins and two wins from Lodi, coincidence? We'll have to start a stage next year from Lodi so I can come back.

The Amgen Tour of California continues tomorrow with a 20-kilometer time trial in Folsom.

“I’ll have sore legs tomorrow after the effort today, so I’m going to take it easy, but it’s a big day for Lawson [Craddock],” said Skujins. “The day after will be really interesting. We’ll be racing around Santa Rosa. There’s lots of climbing. It’s a really hard day, and it should be loads of fun.


"Both years I've done it, it hasn't been super hot so I can't complain about the weather because the heat wouldn't make my days that tolerable. But I do like the people here. The stages are always exciting, and the racing is super fun, so I hope to get to come here as often as I can."


"We weren't too bummed about Lawson [Craddock] because in the end it's the legs that decide, you know? There is nothing you can do about it, especially on that day. We played it perfectly and put Lawson where he needed to be and Talansky was there to help.


"There are still a couple of hard days to come, and Lawson will definitely get back time because he flies in time trials, and we'll reassess after tomorrow."


"Today was an absolutely a hard day,” Andrew Talansky told Cyclingnews. "Last time I was at altitude was at Tenerife, and that was about a month ago. So I definitely felt it a little bit. So considering that, I'm pretty pleased actually that I was able to respond to that last little acceleration in the final 500 metres because sometimes it's hit or miss when you've been out of altitude that long.


"So I'm pretty optimistic, Today was no means an easy day, and I'm excited about the TT tomorrow."


Adam De Vos close to breakthrough win in California

High above the casinos of South Lake Tahoe, Adam De Vos’s daylong gamble almost paid off with the biggest win of his young career. The Rally Cycling rider took a chance on a long breakaway and finished second in the toughest stage of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. At the same time De Vos was infiltrating the day’s breakaway on the 131-mile stage, Sara Poidevin was staking her claim as one of the best climbers in the peloton in stage one of the women’s event.


Adam De Vos kept Rally Cycling’s breakaway streak alive on the road to South Lake Tahoe. De Vos made it into an early break that included 17 other riders. Despite the large amount of firepower in the move, the peloton held the gap at around the three to four minute mark for most of the day. Heading into the first KOM of the day. De Vos and Toms Skujins (Cannondale) broke clear from the break and fought out the sprint between the two of them. De Vos would come out on top and repeat his performance at the second KOM. Shortly after, the duo were reeled in by the 14 remaining riders of the breakaway.


“I felt pretty on fire today,” said De Vos. “Yesterday I was pretty concerned about how the rest of the week was going to go just based on the way I was feeling. That’s how it goes in some of these longer stage races, you just never know how your legs are going to be day-to-day. Part of [the reason] for being in the break was to defend Huffman’s KOM jersey, so I knew I had to get up there and get the points.”


Despite the break coming back together, De Vos wasn’t finished and when the breakaway fractured a second time he was in the front group – again with Skujins, this time with Xabier Zandio (Sky) joining them. The three worked well together and with 20 kilometers remaining they had a gap of 3:00. The gap held steady until the final 2-kilometer climb to the finish. De Vos marked Zandio and Skujins coming into the final corner before launching his sprint. He quickly got a bike length on his two breakaway companions but was unable to fend off Skujins, who came by on the outside to take the win.


“I tried to go early on the inside of the last turn,” said De Vos at the finish. “I was undergeared when I launched my sprint. It was a fast tailwind finish and I wasn’t expecting it to be so flat at the top of the climb. These finishes are tough to judge when you don’t get to pre-ride them. I am going to be happy and sad for quite a few days after this one.”


With De Vos taking maximum points in the King of the Mountains competition from the breakaway, Rally Cycling rode in defense of Rob Britton’s ninth place on general classification. De Vos’s breakaway performance, like that of Will Routley’s yesterday, assured that Evan Huffman remained in the King of the Mountains jersey.



"I am grateful for the opportunity from the team,” De Vos told Cyclingnews. “We have 15 strong riders, so to be one of the eight picked for this race is special. It is a really big deal to ride such a high-caliber race with a great field and great courses.


"In general, we have a few guys designated for getting into the breaks, and today I was one of the guys going for the breakaway. I was trying really hard yesterday but doing a couple things wrong. Guys like Danny (Pate) and Rob (Britton) talked me through a couple of pointers on how to make it easier on myself, and I had that in mind all day and it worked out.


"Throughout the day, [director Eric] Wohlberg was in the car and on the radio – that guy has won a million races, so it's great to have him in the earpiece.

"The rest of the race is about defending Rob's place on general classification and Evan Huffman's King of the Mountains jersey, and we are just going to continue to keep getting riders in the break. We have had a rider in the break each day already, and I think we are the only team that has done that. We are just going to keep doing what we have been doing."


Loyal domestique agonizingly close to saving the race for Sky in California

Xabier Zandio claimed his best-ever individual result for Team Sky by finishing third on a hilly fifth stage of the Tour of California.


Zandio infiltrated an 18-man breakaway early in the stage, and once those numbers had been reduced on the Carson Pass, he then jumped clear with Toms Skujins (Cannondale) and Adam De Vos (Rally) in the last 30km.


The trio worked well together to evade their pursuers, with Zandio doing the lion's share of the work on the final climb before the three-way sprint for victory.


Zandio gave it his all on the uphill drag to the line, but Skujins's kick proved the strongest as he held off a late response from De Vos to seal his first win of 2016.


A fractured peloton rolled home 43 seconds later, but Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx - Quick-Step)'s presence in that group ensured he defended his 22-second lead over Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) at the top of the overall standings.


Speaking after the stage, Sport Director Gabriel Rasch was full of praise for Zandio's performance and delighted to see one of Team Sky's true unsung heroes enjoy his day in the sun.


He told "It was great to see him get a result today and he was super strong out there. He's been getting better every day, and although he wasn't able to get the win, he was happy with how he rode and is motivated for the days to come.


"Xabi's performance gave us all a boost today actually - it was great for our morale because we've had some bad luck here this week.


"Tomorrow is the time trial and we've got Vasil [Kiryienka] for that. He's ready for it and he always wants to do well in the world champion's jersey." 

Disappinted Jasper Stuyven: I should have won the stage

When a large 20-man group formed early in the 212-kilometer stage 5 at the Amgen Tour of California, Jasper Stuyven was there.


When it became known that Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quick Step) was also part of the mix and the virtual leader on the road when the gap grew to over five minutes, Trek-Sagafredo was forced to work to keep Peter Stetina's second in the general classification safe.


It became a tactical balancing game of keeping the breakaway within reasonable distance -  the team performed another enormous effort - and allowing Stuyven a chance to contest the stage win.


When three riders attacked from the breakaway group in the closing kilometers, Stuyven waited. GC was first priority and Bouet still a threat. When he knew it was safe to ride, Stuyven quickly joined a counter-attack and then left his companions behind in the final kilometer in a furious pursuit.


Stuyven was closing fast to the three men, but the road was slipping away faster. The trio contested the win and Stuyven's opportunity ended; he crossed the line moments later for fourth.


"I am disappointed," said Stuyven. "I didn't feel good all day, and then on the second GPM climb I decided to go hard a little bit and a lot of the guys were dropped. I was feeling really good after and following the moves, but I had to watch Bouet because he was a threat to our GC.


"When the three guys rode away, I am pretty sure that I had the legs to follow, but I had to stay with Bouet. In the finale, I could see Bouet was suffering, maybe from the altitude, and I went. I tried to let the other two guys do the work a little bit and have one punch, but the three in front were a little bit too far. Maybe if the gap was only 30 seconds, I may have made it, but 40-45 was just too much. It's a disappointment because I really had the legs and I should have won today."


While the breakaway contested the stage win, the peloton clawed its way, fighting frantically, to the final climb as the GC contenders scrapped to gain some ground on rivals.


"The run-in was like a full-on field sprint again, even though the race win was gone," explained Stetina. "Coming into Luther Pass there was a crosswind, and then through the city it was a full on lead-out, and into the final climb here it was just hectic – pushing and shoving and yelling…"


"We did some of the pushing and shoving," chimed in Kiel Reijnen, smiling.


"Yeah, we took our part in that, everyone did, but everyone knows it is just racing," continued Stetina. "In the final sprint, it looked like Van Avermaet was dying with Brent (Bookwalter) on his wheel, and everyone kind of waited and stalled. I just thought too much; I should have hit then knowing that I can go for a longer sprint on an uphill, but I still kept thinking, thinking… and Alaphilippe came around us pretty quick, he might have had a gap, but we all finished right there together."


Race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) won the sprint from the contenders group for 7th place, and Stetina (12th) and Haimar Zubeldia (19th) finished in the same time. The overall classification did not change.


Stetina said: "Today was the day where the team made all the difference because you are climbing for 200 kilometers and everything counts – like carrying one water bottle less, getting food, being sheltered from the gusts."


"Markel (Irizar) was an ox today. He rode the front for hours on end, putting guys out the back. And Kiel (Reijnen) took over through the crosswinds, and he just wouldn't die. He kept sheltering me all the way to the final climb, and on the final climb, and Julien (Bernard) was there in the wind on Luther Pass. Just all day great teamwork."


But there will be no time for the team to visit, explained Stetina. "If we weren't so cracked on transfers I would be inviting all the guys over for a BBQ at the cabin. But I guess we will just hang out at State Line."


Kristoff’s lead-out man tests himself in Californian mountains

The 11th Amgen Tour of California headed to the high slopes of the Sierra Nevada to finish at 2022 m at Heavenly Mountain Resort, overlooking Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America and second deepest. A large break of 18 riders included Team KATUSHA’s Jacopo Guarnieri for much of the day, but later teammate Jhonatan Restrepo was part of the chasers who caught the remains of the break with the young Colombian claiming fifth place on the stage. He is also fifth on the young riders classification.


”It was part of our plan today to put someone in the break; our director asked us to be part of any group that went clear. I saw a good group going – actually they were a bit far for me and I had to give a big effort to reach them, but I made it. It was a good group, almost 20 riders and there was OK cooperation. All the biggest teams were there. We knew we had to build up our tempo in the first part of the race because it was really hard. Three riders went away from us and we thought maybe we could bridge to them. I put in an attack with 5 km to go but it was just a lot of suffering. I exploded and the peloton was right behind us,” explained Jacopo Guarnieri.


”We were racing at a high altitude today and it makes your heart rate go up but not too, too bad. I was expecting it to be worse. We were at 2400 m for some time, but I think some others were suffering more than I was. It would have been good if the last kilometer was not uphill and so hard, but after so much work today it was just too much,” added Jacopo Guarnieri.


”The previous few stages I have not felt my best but today I was feeling very, very good. Now tomorrow is the time trial so that is an easy day for me and then we have some stages that will be for Alex,” concluded Jacopo Guarnieri, referring to teammate Alexander Kristoff. 


Julian Alaphilippe: Everyone knows that the time trial is not my specialty

212 kilometers from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe and four categorized climbs on the menu made up for another tough, aggressive and hard to control stage at the US race, so it came as no surprise when a massive breakaway got clear and opened a lead of five minutes. Among the 18 riders at the front were also two of Etixx – Quick-Step, Maxime Bouet and Nikolas Maes, the Frenchman – who won the day's first intermediate sprint – being at one point virtual leader in the overall standings.


Not many teams were willing to chase behind that escape, only BMC and Trek-Segafredo working to reduce the gap in the second part of what was the final mountain stage of this edition. The difficult terrain and countless attacks at the front eventually led to three riders taking off and going all the way to the finish – Xabier Zandio (Team Sky), Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling) and Toms Skujins (Cannondale) – the latter proving out to be the most explosive on the last 200 meters and notching the win.


The pack, led by Julian Alaphilippe, came to the line 43 seconds later, the 23-year-old Frenchman finishing seventh and holding onto the yellow jersey with just three days left to go at the 11th edition of the Tour of California. On the eve of the 20-km long individual time trial in Folsom, Julian – who claimed the victory on the queen-stage of the race – is 22 seconds clear of Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), with George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) rounding out the podium, a further 15 seconds behind.


Alaphilippe, who's riding the US event for the second season in a row, talked at the press conference about the stage and his expections for the next day:


"Our tactic was to send two guys at the front, and that worked perfect for us, as we didn't have to pull in the peloton. The stage was tough and the hot temperatures meant that everyone suffered today. On the last climb, I watched my rivals closely, as I didn't want to lose any time. Tomorrow, an ITT will be in store and everyone knows that it's not my speciality, but I'll give it my all and continue to enjoy this beautiful yellow jersey."


"I don't think too much about tomorrow. I just need to go 20km at full gas. It's not really my specialty; I'm not really prepared for that, so I take it day by day and I'm really happy to stay in yellow today. We will see after tomorrow, but for sure it is going to be really important for general classification." 


Rohan Dennis sets sights on time trial after solid ride on hilly day in California

Rohan Dennis continued BMC Racing Team’s run of top ten finishes at the Amgen Tour of California, finishing ninth after 212km of uphill racing on Stage 5.


Danilo Wyss was part of an 18 rider breakaway that escaped of the front of the peloton after less than an hour of racing. Working together, the group were able to establish of maximum advantage of just over 5 minutes.


At one point, it looked like the group might make it all the way to finish line but inside the final 25 kilometers, attacks caused a reshuffle of the group. Eventually only three riders remained in front with Tom Skujins (Cannondale) taking victory in South Lake Tahoe.


Behind them, Dennis was positioned well in a select group of chasing riders and crossed the line in ninth place, 43 seconds behind Skujins.


Brent Bookwalter was not far behind as he finished 11th from the same group and maintained fourth place on the General Classification going into tomorrow’s individual time trial, 40 seconds behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step).


Sport director Jackson Stewart said: “It was really a hard, high altitude day and we were climbing for most of the stage. Even with a tailwind for most of the day the whole group was really we were fighting up the climbs.


“A big break went away and we had Danilo [Wyss] make it into that group with about 18 guys. The group had almost every team in it so it was a pretty dangerous move but it didn’t really have any GC guys in it. Most of the big teams controlled the gap so they couldn't get too much time and we helped a lot with this in the final.


“At the end, three guys got away from that group and Danilo’s group got caught right at the finish right at end. We kept a good pace for Brent and Rohan so that they could keep their GC time together and I hope that tomorrow we can take a bunch more time in the time trial.”


Rohan Dennis said: 


“Today’s stage went really well actually. It wasn’t the perfect situation or scenario with Maxime Bouet (Ettix-Quick-Step) out in the breakaway but we worked with a few other teams to keep it within reach in case he was to feeling good and decided to jump of the front and try and take that leaders jersey.


“We had Danilo in the breakaway as well to try and hopefully, if it stayed away, get a stage win but it wasn’t the case and for us it was just about not losing time on the finish line.


“I think today the climbing was the biggest factor on the stage. The altitude for me, because I have done a lot of altitude training in the last month and a half, wasn’t really an issue at all. I actually felt more comfortable up here than what I was at sea level the past couple of days.


“Tomorrow was one my main goals for this race, other than staying out of trouble and being up there on GC. I have been training pretty well and things are going well for me for the time trial in Folsom and I am looking to go one step better than two years ago and try and take a lot of time out of the GC guys for sure.”


George Bennett ready for big time trial in California

George Bennett survived the Tour of California’s fifth stage on Thursday without problems. Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s front man finished in the main group and held his third place overall. Toms Skujins (Cannondale) won the stage.


“After 15 kilometres, a group of 18 riders broke away and every team had a rider in it,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “Dylan Groenewegen was ours. After 165 kilometres, he couldn’t follow on a second categorised ascent and had to let it go. Dennis van Winden represented us in the chase group, but the leading group didn’t take too much time.


“In the final part of the race, George Bennett rode strongly. The team supported him so that he could finish among the favourites for the general classification. We’ll race the decisive time trial tomorrow, when George has to give it all to defend his third place.”


Costly puncture for huge American talent in California

Neilson Powless conceded 18 seconds and slid one place to sixth in the overall standings Thursday at the Amgen Tour of California. But the 19-year-old from Roseville, California, managed to hold onto his lead in the SRAM "best young rider" standings despite a scare and a few nervous moments.

About 160 kilometers into the 212-kilometer stage, Powless's rear tire went flat on a high-speed descent, just as the peloton was chasing hard to catch an 18-rider breakaway that included Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's Logan Owen.

Powless said he was both fortunate and unfortunate after teammate Will Barta gave up his rear wheel to help get him quickly get rolling again. He went on to finish 34th on the stage.

"The bad luck was that it was in the fastest and windiest section of the course," Powless said. "Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ruben Guerreiro stayed in the front to save for the finish and the rest of the guys came back and paced me back on. We were chasing for about 15 kilometers, but luckily we were able to make it back. I did my best in the finish but unfortunately lost some time. The effort to make it back was too much to go that hard on an uphill sprint to the line."

Heading into Friday's 20.3-km individual time trial, race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) holds a 22-second over Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and 37 seconds over George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo). Powless is 61 seconds off the lead and tied on time with a pair of BMC Racing teammates Rohan Dennis and Samuel Sánchez, who sit in seventh and eighth, respectively.

Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx said the time trial in Folsom favors whoever recovers best, especially from Thursday's stage that started at sea level and climbed up to more than 2,600 meters.

"It will suit the rider who still has some good legs to do a good time trial is basically what it comes down to," Merckx said. "We will see who that person is. For us, it is about doing the best we can and discovering what a 20-kilometer time trial feels like after five days of hard racing."

Besides Powless, Guerreiro and Geoghegan Hart are also in the top 20 overall. Guerreiro is 13th, 1:34 off the lead. Geoghegan Hart is 16th, 2:13 back. The pair is also second and third, respectively, in the best young rider standings.

In Thursday's stage, the remnants of the day's breakaway survived to the finish for the second time this week. Toms Skujins (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) beat Adam De Vos (Rally Cycling Team) and Xabier Zandio (Team Sky) in a three-up sprint. Owen was unable to keep pace with the escape group and dropped back. The winner of the Under 23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège said a sore knee - which has been hurting him since Stage 2 - threw off his rhythm.

"I worked pretty hard to get in the breakaway, which I think took a lot out of me," Owen said. "The issues I have been having with my knee have thrown me off quite a bit. I have been trying to recover from that. Then, once we got up pretty high in elevation, I just couldn't breathe. I didn't do an altitude camp like some of the guys on the team, so I definitely paid for it today."


Laurens ten Dam frustrated not to gain time on tough stage in California

It was a great effort by Team Giant-Alpecin as Laurens ten Dam finished in the main bunch in 19th place.


In the general classification, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick Step) remains the overall leader while Laurens moves up to 5th place.


“The guys worked hard for me,” said Laurens ten Dam after crossing the line in 19th place. “I was involved in a crash in the finale, but managed to be back in time. I am bit disappointed because I expected more of the stage in terms of gaining time for the GC. Tomorrow will become an important stage with the individual time trial and hopefully I can maintain my position in the overall classification.”


Coach Aike Visbeek after the stage explained: “Today we aimed to make a move, but the circumstances where not in our favor. It was a hard stage but I have to say the team was very dedicated to support Laurens, great work again.


“We had a good situation with Caleb [Fairly] in the break but he cramped and had to let go the group. Otherwise a nice stage result would have been possible for sure. Our goal remains to get a good result in the final GC with Laurens and we’ll continue to work hard to reach that.”


Novo Nordisk Spaniard still in top 10 contention in California

Team Novo Nordisk’s Javier Megias remains 14th overall following Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California.


Megias finished in the first chase group, 43 seconds back. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) remains in the overall race lead with Megias in 14th place, 1:39 behind Alaphilippe. 


“While we didn’t have anyone in the breakaway today, that actually worked out really well for me,” Megias said. “My teammates were great protecting me and getting me bottles. The day went really smoothly and it wasn’t until the final climb into Tahoe when things got tough. It was super windy and the pace really picked up to catch the break but I felt good.”


Peter Sagan and Tinkoff opt for easy stage in California

After yesterday’s big team effort to bring the race back together so Peter Sagan had the opportunity to go for the stage win, the Tinkoff riders would have been forgiven for having heavy legs and being safely in the peloton. However, they were once again showing themselves on day five as Adam Blythe made the day’s main breakaway of 18 riders before being caught late in the day.


With Clyte in the move, the rest of the team could ride in the wheels on today’s 212km stage from Lodi to high altitude in South Lake Tahoe, but despite a large amount of climbing Sagan was still in the front group that came over the line for top ten spots on the day. He finished in 27th place, just a few spots ahead of teammate Michael Gogl who put in another strong ride here on stage 5. Sagan still holds a 15 point lead over second place in the points classification.


“Adam did a really good job in getting into the move today, after yesterday’s effort on what was a very difficult stage,” explained Sport Director Patxi Vila from the finish in Lake Tahoe. “It was a very hard day with 4,000m of climbing, it just kept going up, but the boys did another good job today and they were still there in the front group until late on with Peter, Juraj Sagan, Oscar Gatto and Michael Gogl which was good to see.”


The move that Blythe managed to get himself in was a large one with most teams represented meaning that the chase behind started half-heartedly. Having got clear at the 20km mark, the leaders soon started to build a gap that passed six minutes at one stage before some of the GC teams behind started to weigh in on the chase.


A trio formed at the front, pulling clear of those behind. Blythe was in the main chase group but was eventually caught by a fast closing peloton in the final kilometres together with much of the break. The three ahead went on to fight out the stage win with the reduced peloton, and yellow jersey, coming over the finish line 43 seconds later for fifth place after nearly six hours of racing.

 Vila spoke of there being some confusion out on the road in the closing stages.


“I’m not too sure what happened but the time gaps were confusing towards the end of the stage. At 10km to go we got given a gap which seemed too far to catch the riders in front and then not long after most of the break was right in front of the peloton. But I think we got what we could out of today’s tough stage.


“Tomorrow we have the time trial – we will see what we can do on this stage but we don’t have any specialists here and have other opportnuities in the coming days,” Vila explained.


No success for van Rensburg in Californian breakaway

The race began fast and after only 20 kilometers a group of 18 riders rode clear. Among them were Jacques Janse van Rensburg (pictured above) and later stage winner Toms Skujins (Cannondale).


Janse van Rensburg did look good at the front of the break. However, when Skujins attacked for the second time inside only a few kilometers he had no response.


Janse van Rensburg was reeled in by the peloton. Daniel Teklehaimanot was the team’s best placed finisher for Dimension Data, a minute down on the race winner. He sits now 20th overall.


Sports director Rolf Aldag said:


“Today’s stage was a hard one. We wanted to get into the break and managed that with Jacques. However, he didn’t have the legs in the end to stay with the trio that went off the road and eventually managed to stay away.”



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