The Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM continued in South Lake Tahoe today with Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Leah Kirchmann (CAN) besting the other 70 cyclists after two laps of a 25-mile circuit (49.7 miles total). Lauren Komanski (Winston-Salem, NC), riding for Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air, began the day in third place overall, and her second-place finish was enough to claim the Amgen Race Leader Jersey.
Stage 2, presented by Amgen, took riders from Heavenly Mountain Resort through the scenic forests of South Lake Tahoe and back for a dramatic uphill finish in just under two hours. The women’s stage road race will conclude tomorrow with a circuit race through the streets of downtown Sacramento. With the top-three in general contention separated by only 10 seconds, the fast and flat course is primed to deliver a spectacular finale.
Team TIBCO-SVB and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, seeking to protect the yellow jersey Katie Hall (USA) claimed yesterday, controlled the peloton leading to the first Queen of the Mountain (QOM) summit 16 miles into the race. Allie Dragoo (USA), Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air, attacked around mile 20 and built a :30 advantage to cross the Sprint line first; however, Kirchmann came away with today’s Sprint classification with the bonus points awarded to the first three across the finish line.
The rest of the course saw several attack attempts, but nothing that stuck, with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team continuing to set the pace to defend the race leader. As the field arrived together to the final climb to the finish, the cyclists gained about 450 feet in elevation in less than a mile. Ultimately, Kirchmann came across the line first, showing why she is one of the most decorated North American sprinters and reigning Canadian National Champion in Road Race, Criterium and Time Trial.
With a total of 3,300 feet in elevation gain and two QOM climbs, this was also a day for climbers to shine, with Canada National Team’s Kirsti Lay (CAN) overtaking the QOM competition.
“It feels really awesome to have this [QOM] jersey,” said Lay. “Yesterday we went out to be aggressive and active, and it turned out we were sitting high in the classification for the Queen of the Mountain. So, today it was definitely a target for the team to put us in contention to take the jersey. It was a good day for us.”
Hall finished in fourth place today and drops to third overall, back :10 from race leader Komanski. Worrack holds second place overall with a :3 gap.
“I think tomorrow is going to be ‘game on’ from the very start,” said Kirchman. “The GC is very close, so I think it’s going to be a really tough day tomorrow.”
STAGE 2 PODIUM
1. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
2. Lauren Komanski (USA), Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air
3. Trixi Worrack (GER), Velocio-SRAM
STAGE 2 JERSEY WINNERS
Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Lauren Komanski (USA), Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air
Visit California Sprint Jersey: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Lexus Queen of the Mountain Jersey: Kirsti Lay (CAN), Canada National Team
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Hannah Barnes (GBR), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
STAGE 3/CONCLUSION TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY VISIT CALIFORNIA:
Sunday, May 10 – Sacramento (34 miles)
Start Time: 11:15 a.m. PDT (men’s race begins at same location at 10:50 a.m.)
Estimated Finish Time: 12:45 p.m. PDT
Photo © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com