Bookwalter Sixth After Explosive Day of Climbing on Stage 2 in California15. May 2017, San Jose (USA) — Road Team
Stage two of the AMGEN Tour of California saw the first showdown of the General Classification contenders with Brent Bookwalter crossing the line sixth after time gaps opened up as the race made its way to San Jose.
A fast pace was set from KM 0 on stage 2, with the bunch flying along the flat roads out of Modesto at about 50 km/h as riders tried, again and again, to go clear at the front of the race.
The activity continued as the peloton rolled through the wide open fields but no group was given the freedom to build up an advantage until the race had covered almost 50km, of the 144.5km course.
As the road started to rise before the first categorized climb of the day, four riders slipped out of the peloton’s grasp and began to build an advantage. After being joined by two additional riders, the breakaway reached the top of the climb up Del Puerto Canyon over 5 minutes ahead of the rest of the field.
From there the gap fell slightly before hovering around 4 minutes until the chase began to heat up with 60km to go and the ascent of Mount Hamilton looming large.
Eventually, just three riders were left out in front on the approach to the summit of the climb as the attacks started from the peloton, which had shrunk to around 60 riders. Four riders attempted to bridge across to the remaining three escapees before Toms Skujins (Cannondale - Drapac) went solo with riders strung out along the road behind him heading onto the long descent with 45km to go.
With a few bumps, including the second category climb of Quimby Road, on the way down to the bottom of the descent, six riders joined the solo leader. But, as the kilometers continued to pass by just four riders were left out in front; George Bennett (Lotto-NL Jumbo), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Lachlan Morton (Team Dimension Data) and Ian Boswell (Team Sky).
A reduced bunch of around 20 riders, including Brent Bookwalter, Samuel Sánchez, and Michael Schär, continued to chase behind with the gap sitting at around 45 seconds as BMC Racing Team began to set the pace.
With 3km to go, Schär swung off the front of the group after a huge effort as Sánchez assumed the responsibility of minimizing the time gap as much as possible.
In the end, the leading quartet held on to their advantage going under the flamme rouge and onto the final kick up to the finish line with Majka taking the stage win in San Jose and moving into the leader’s yellow jersey.
Behind them, the chasing group continued to push on with Bookwalter eventually crossing the line sixth and moving into the same position on the General Classification, 48 seconds behind the Bora-Hansgrohe rider.
Quotes from the Finish Line
"Right from the beginning, we knew that this stage could shake things up and it certainly did that. The first 20km were in complete contrast to the rest of the stage with big, flat open roads and we saw that everyone was a little nervous even then especially with the added difficulty of crosswinds. Then the race profile changed completely."
"When that group of four guys went from the bunch, I had just tried to make a move with a couple of other riders so I was sitting maybe third or fourth wheel and they came from behind a little bit. I hesitated to go with them, thinking it was still a long way out. I had been looking forward to this finish and hoping for a stage result so, in hindsight, which is easy to say, I was probably racing too much with my head and not enough with my legs, my heart, and my instincts really."
"I felt confident that between the Cannondale-Drapac riders and the powerhouse that Michael Schär is that we could pull them back. But, unfortunately, some attacks disrupted the chase and hurt our resources a little bit. We definitely made a mistake not going with those guys but then with the resources that we had, I am proud and thankful for what both Michi and Samu did."
"I think we are still in the fight and there are still a couple more big days to come which could shake things up again. There is still a lot of racing left. Ideally, we don't want to be giving up any time to guys like Majka, Bennett, and Boswell but there are still places where we can look to pull some time back. We are definitely still motivated, and we will keep getting better throughout the race."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
"We expected today to be difficult, and in that decisive moment on Mount Hamilton, we just weren't able to go with that move. I think we hesitated just a little bit and ultimately that's where we lost it. Our ultimate goal was to have both Brent Bookwalter and Samuel Sánchez up there on the GC in Pasadena, but unfortunately, in the end, we had to use Samu to try and close the gap. It just wasn't our day. We'll try our best now to see what we can do to move up overall, but it will be difficult. We'll really have to go for broke on the queen stage."
AMGEN Tour of California
Stage 2: Modesto > San Jose, 144.5km
Top 3: 1. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) 2. George Bennett (Lotto-NL Jumbo) 3. Ian Boswell (Team Sky)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 6. Brent Bookwalter 19. Samuel Sánchez 21. Michael Schär
BMC Racing Team Flickr Gallery
See photos from the race.