Report & Results: Amgen Tour of California – Acevedo Wins in Hot Palm Springs


Day two of sunny skies and temperatures reaching   114 degrees at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California took their toll on riders as they strained to the uphill finish on the nearly 124.1-mile course from Murrieta to the desert of Greater Palm Springs this afternoon. A stage for climbers, the final kilometers saw an attack by Team Jamis-Hagens Berman’s Janier Alexis Acevedo (COL) to claim the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, besting   BMC Racing Team’s Tejay van Garderen (Boulder, Colo.), who arrived at the finish line 12 seconds back for second place.

“I knew Tejay was the rider to beat. I knew when to attack and felt strong enough to beat him today,” said Acevedo at the post-race press conference. “I think of it (the yellow jersey) every day, and I’m happy to have this win today.”

“He (Acevedo) was super strong out there. When he attacked, I was scared to go into the red because in this heat sometimes if you go over your limit just a little bit, you just can’t recover,” said van Garderen of the final moments of today’s race. A pre-race favorite for the overall title, the first two days of racing have fared well for him and his BMC Racing Team, still in good position to challenge for the championship.

Philip Deignan (IRL) of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rounds out the podium with his third-place stage finish today, completing the trifecta for U.S.-based teams in Stage 2. van Garderen’s BMC Racing teammate Mathias Frank (SUI) finished in fourth place, and 2010 Amgen Tour of California champion Michael Rogers (AUS) of Team Saxo-Tinkoff came across the line in fifth after riding at the front of the group for much of the final climb.

Photos ©  Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com

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“It’s never been this hot in Ireland,” joked third-place finisher Deignan of today’s blazing desert temperatures. “The heat reminds me of the Tour of Spain. But when you race that in August/September, your body is more used to it. The conditions today were a bit of a shock to the riders.”

The tough day of heat and climbing was evident in the time gaps as the peloton continued to fight uphill to the finish line one by one with the final riders finishing more than 37 minutes behind the leader. Temperatures soared to 114 degrees, the hottest temperatures for a major U.S. stage race. Spent cyclists were being assisted past the finish to the team areas to recoup with fluids. In some cases, riders could be seen taking a seat on the pavement wherever they could find a spot near the finish to receive immediate relief from ice packs and cold cloths on their heads and backs. The heat was too much for some, including Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team’s Pieter Serry (BEL), who paused on the final ascent to be cooled with ice in hopes of recovering enough to finish within the time limit to continue racing tomorrow.

NBC Sports Network announcer Paul Sherwen said during today’s live broadcast that “Today, every bike rider who gets to the summit of this climb will know that he has been in a battle.”

After the first two stages, which featured challenging climbs, BISSELL Pro Cycling’s Carter Jones (Boulder, Colo.) continues to hold onto the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey. Though the Aerial Tramway finish led to a yellow jersey change, Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team’s Lieuwe Westra (NED) led sprint points for the second day and will begin tomorrow’s race in the Visit California Sprint Jersey. Other jerseys awarded today include: the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey to France’s Sylvain Chavanel of the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team, and the Crunchies Best Young Rider Jersey to Bontrager Cycling Team’s 21-year-old cyclist Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas).

“Being a Best Young Rider is definitely a big goal. We’re a really young team and some couldn’t keep up, but we definitely want to take it to the finish,” said Craddock. “[Today was] brutally hard, and the heat definitely played a factor. [I’m] happy with how I rode and how the whole team rode.”

Now in its eighth year, the 2013 Amgen Tour of California is running south to north for the first time, covering nearly 750 miles of California’s most scenic highways, roadways and coastlines over eight days, concluding in Santa Rosa, Calif., May 19. With one of the most difficult courses in race history, 121 elite cyclists (127 riders began the race, though several have been eliminated or abandoned due to time cuts, injury or illness) will compete through 12 Host Cities and 60,000 feet of climbing, a record for the race, including a first-time summit finish at Mt. Diablo in the Bay Area.

A critical partner since the race’s inception, Amgen returns this year as the race title sponsor. “Amgen wants patients and their caregivers, physicians, and the public to better understand the contributions the biotechnology industry makes toward advances in medicine,” said Rolf Hoffmann, senior vice president of U.S. Commercial Operations at Amgen. “That’s why Amgen is proud to sponsor the Amgen Tour of California and to continue the Breakaway from Cancer initiative as a vehicle to raise awareness of the important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship.”

Amgen created the national Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural Amgen Tour of California. Through Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen and its four nonprofit partners are dedicated to empowering patients with education, resources, and hope. For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.

Today’s Breakaway from Cancer activities featured cancer survivor Karen Cannella who fired the official start gun to begin the stage, and Martinez, Calif. resident Matt Orendorff who won AEG’s design contest for the 2013 Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey, had the honor of awarding it to Sylvain Chavanel of the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team.

Photos ©  Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com

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STAGE 3 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY CRUNCHIES FOOD COMPANY:

Tuesday, May 14 – Palmdale to Santa Clarita (110.3 mi/177.5 km)

Start Time: 11:20 a.m. PT

Estimated Finish Time: 3:48 p.m. PT

The peloton will regroup for tomorrow’s somewhat flatter ride, which includes four fourth category climbs. While these two cities are familiar hosts, the route covers roads that the race has never traveled. The stage will feature racing through the hills north of Santa Clarita along San Francisquito Canyon and the 22-mile climb up Lake Hughes Road. Much of this course will trace the route used by the famous 508-mile Furnace Creek race that is run each summer. The race may break apart on the rolling course but a gradual 18-mile descent down Spunky Canyon and Bouquet Road to the finish will give the peloton a chance to regroup. Don’t be surprised to see a large field sprint during this stage.