Bookwalter Fifth on Queen Stage After a Showdown on Mt. Baldy18. May 2017, Mt. Baldy, (USA) — Road Team
Brent Bookwalter continued BMC Racing Team's run of top five finishes at the AMGEN Tour of California after a strong performance on the explosive final climb of today's queen stage.
Day four in California was the one that all of the General Classification riders were waiting for with a summit finish atop the iconic Mt. Baldy. However, before the riders battle up its slopes, they had the two first-category climbs up Glendora Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road to tackle.
After lots of activity at the front of the peloton, a large group of 24 riders, including Martin Elmiger, went clear inside the first 10km, of the 125.5km course. As the road began to rise the group’s advantage had stretched out to over one minute, but following lots of reshuffling at the front, a final selection of 15 riders went over the top of the first categorized climb.
However, with Mt. Baldy on the horizon and a battle of the General Classification contenders expected, the group was never allowed to gain more than four minutes over the rest of the field.
At the halfway mark, the gap between the breakaway and the peloton was hovering around 3’20” but, as the road began to rise again for the final 40km, the chase was heating up with riders dropping off the back of the main bunch.
As the breakaway made its way towards the second climb of the day, Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) attacked off the front before, eventually, just Britton remained in the lead going over the summit.
With 25km to go, the solo leader had edged his advantage out to over three minutes as the remaining breakaway riders were steadily being reeled back into the peloton.
Once the race reached the final fifteen switchbacks up to the finish line, the gap fell to inside one minute before the main bunch, which had been whittled down to around 30 riders, made the catch.
The first tentative moves came inside the final 5km of the day and eventually, a select group of seven riders, including Bookwalter, was left out in front. A series of attacks soon followed with Bookwalter following each one before Andrew Talanksy’s burst of acceleration with 3km to go.
The Cannondale-Drapac rider was soon joined by race leader, Rafal Majka (Bora - Hansgrohe), George Bennett (Lotto-NL Jumbo) and Ian Boswell (Team Sky), who would all go on to contest the win.
Despite almost constant attacks, the quartet passed under the flamme rouge together before beginning their final sprint with around 500m to go. After instigating the decisive final move, Talansky was able to power towards the line to take the stage win ahead of Majka and Bennett.
Behind the front group, Bookwalter was the fifth wheel on the road and continued to push on up the climb to cross the line eight seconds behind the eventual race winner.
Heading into tomorrow’s individual time trial at Big Bear Lake, Bookwalter holds onto his sixth place on the General Classification, 1’02” back.
Quotes from the Finish Line
"Looking at the result, I wish it was more. I came here with high expectations and good confidence and belief in myself. On the final climb, I did the absolute best I could and left it all out on the road. I wouldn't say that I am thrilled with the result but I am proud of my effort and we still have the TT to come."
"It was a very high tempo going on to the bottom of the final climb, and you could see right away that guys were suffering. I felt like I was one of the strongest guys and as I expected, the altitude started to take its toll on some riders. I tried my best to follow the first surges and accelerations, and I rode with confidence. That was one of the things coming into today that I wanted to hold myself to. I wanted to ride confidently and not doubt myself. I wanted to go for it, and if that meant blowing up a little at the end, then I knew that I had committed to it and stuck to my effort. I think I did that and I was up against some world-class climbers. They were just a little better than me today, but I limited my losses to them well. Unfortunately, we lost those seconds on stage 2 because otherwise, I would have been right there in the mix."
"I have been working hard for this race all year, and I have had some nice team support all week. Again today Michael Schär was awesome. He is my lieutenant and guided me into the final climb. The other guys did a good job earlier in the race to keep the pressure off me. So, tomorrow I will look to translate that confidence and their belief in me into a good ride."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"As we all expected today's race came down to Mt. Baldy. The pace was super high going onto the final climb, but we had Brent Bookwalter in a good position. He was able to follow the first attacks, before the final, and ultimately winning move went clear. It's a pretty relentless climb, and I think overall he gave it everything he had. Brent was confident going into the stage, and he showed that with the way he was riding. In the end, I think he minimized the time gaps well. It's just a shame we lost that time on stage 2. Tomorrow's time trial is another opportunity for everyone so we will see what we can do there."
AMGEN Tour of California
Stage 5: Ontario > Mt. Baldy, 125.5km
Top 3: 1. Andrew Talanksy (Cannondale-Drapac) 2. Rafal Majka (Bora - Hansgrohe) 3. George Bennett (Lotto-NL Jumbo)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 6. Brent Bookwalter 17. Samuel Sánchez 24. Michael Schär
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.