Stage 2 of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California was a first test for the overall contenders, as it was a stage where one couldn’t win, but lose the race. With four categorized climbs on the menu it was also one for escapees and Ben King (Cannondale) managed to take advantage of that. The US-rider was one of two survivors of an early breakaway and took the win from Evan Huffmann (Rally) in Santa Clarita. Nathan Haas was Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s best placed rider on the day. He crossed the line in 8th place, less than 10 seconds behind the winner.
The stage started in the outskirts of Pasadena with the first climb placed not too far from the start. After a few kilometers of fast racing it was a group of 4 riders that managed to go clear. King was certainly the best known among them. The group built up a lead of over 5 minutes which was only to come down over the last two climbs.
Our African team focussed on keeping Jacques Janse van Rensburg out of trouble. The South African rode strong and stayed the whole race over near the front of the peloton. He was accompanied by Haas and Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Over the last two climbs the gap began to come down rapidly. However, King and Huffmann managed to survive. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) lead the peloton home only 8 seconds later. After keeping Janse van Rensburg out of trouble, Haas earned the team the first top10 finish at this years edition of Amgen Tour of California.
King did not only take home the stage win, but also took over the overall lead from Peter Sagan. Tomorrow’s stage will be a tough one with a summit finish on Gibraltar road. At the end of the day, the GC will be rewritten.
A stage like today is always something where it’s hard to make a call. We have the fastest man in the world with Mark Cavendish here, but it all depends on how the race is ridden in the end. Today, unfortunately, he didn’t have the legs to get over all of the climbs. But he gave me the opportunity to show myself in the finish. After dealing with injury for a few weeks it’s nice for me to see that I’m in a good shape now. It’s all good momentum for the future. I hope we can get a big result here.
Nathan Haas – Rider
It was a difficult day today with a lot of climbing. We had a bit of a plan. The crucial role today was to help Jacques not to lose any time on GC. We knew one wouldn’t win the race here, but it’s possible to lose it on a stage like today. So I think we achieved that goal. To have Nathan coming back from injury and being up there in the sprint was a real good bonus. It’s nice to know that we’ve got somebody that can be competitive on the hilly bunch sprint days.
Roger Hammond – Sports Director