Amgen Tour of California: Fast Times in Folsom

The name of the game was “fast” in Folsom today as the 140 men competing in the 2016 Amgen Tour of California raced the clock in their individual time trial event, with Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) recording the fastest time. Eighteen women’s teams in the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease™ Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM faced of for the race’s first-ever team time trial, with TWENTY16 – Ridebiker ending the day on top.

BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo.), who placed third in the 2014 Folsom time trial, put up the time to beat and held the lead for over an hour until Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s current U.S. National Time Trial Champion Andrew Talansky (New York, New York) overtook him by three seconds.

Photos © Darrell Parks

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The fastest time of the day was yet to come from the current Australian Time Trial Champion and Tour de France time trial speed record-holder Dennis at 24:16”. Talansky finished the stage in second place, 17 seconds back, and Dennis’ teammate Phinney, a two-time U.S. National Time Trial Champion, rounded out the podium in third.

“I was optimistic. Alaphilippe ripped out a very, very good ride…,” said Dennis of his chances to overtake the race lead today. “16 seconds – it’s not over, but it’s not going to be easy to bring back, that’s for sure…Tomorrow’s supposed to be a really tough stage…It’s been a pretty hard Tour as it is, and this Tour has gotten harder and harder every time I’ve done it.”

Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), who as the overall race leader was last to take off today and is known for his mountain victories rather than as a time trial speedster, would have to finish the stage within one minute and one second of Dennis to retain the lead. He pulled out all the stops to post a time of 25:01” for an eighth place finish today, well within what was needed to retain the Amgen Race Leader Jersey he claimed after Stage 3 and the Gibraltar Road climb.

After six stages and more than 24 hours on a bike since the Amgen Tour of California began in San Diego Sunday, Alaphilippe leads Dennis by 16 seconds heading into the final weekend of racing. The 23 year-old Frenchmen is well aware that every second counts here in California, having lost the race to World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) by a mere three seconds last year. Dennis has also come close to the overall win, having placed second in the 2014 Amgen Tour of California behind Bradley Wiggins (GBR).

“Of course I’m really happy, and a small surprise for me to stay in yellow today,” commented Alaphilippe. “The time trial is not really my specialty.”

Today’s 12.6-mile course highlighted Folsom’s historic downtown and lake views. Folsom also played host to the men’s and women’s time trial events in 2014, with Wiggins (GBR) taking the day’s top prize on the way to his overall race win that year. The Tour de France champion is back with his development team, Team WIGGINS, this year as he trains for the Olympics though did not plan to be a factor today. Two familiar faces on the awards stage today were on the podium in 2014 as well, with Dennis placing second and Phinney again in third for that time trial stage.

The leader board after today: Alaphilippe keeps the overall lead by 16 seconds over Dennis, who stood in seventh place before today. BMC Racing Team is having a good showing in the overall as well as on today’s stage with Brent Bookwalter (Albuquerque, New Mexico) turning in a strong ride to move up a notch to third place (+:38”) just behind his teammate. Talansky’s ride shot him up the chart from eleventh place to fourth (+:47). Roseville, Calif. native, Neilson Powless (USA) of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team sits in fifth place (+1:08”) and retains the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey for the fourth consecutive day.

Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina (USA), who had been in second place overall going into today, fell out of the top-10 and George Bennett (NZL) of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo fell from third to ninth.

No changes to the other jerseys after today: World Champion Peter Sagan (SVK) of Tinkoff still wears the Visit California Sprint Jersey, Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman (USA) retains the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey, which he’s worn since Stage 3, and Cannondale Pro Cycling Team’s Toms Skujiņš (LAT) will start tomorrow in the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey earned yesterday.

Powless Moves Up; Curran Surprises At Amgen Tour
Neilson Powless and his status as the “SRAM best young rider”cleared another hurdle in his quest for a strong finish in his first Amgen Tour of California.

The 19-year-old was one of three riders from the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team to finish in the top 25 of Saturday’s individual time trial in Folsom. Powless was 10th while fellow Californian Geoffrey Curran uncorked a stunning ride to finish 12th and Tao Geoghegan Hart was 22nd.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) won the 20.3-kilometer race against the clock. Reigning U.S. national time trial champion Andrew Talansky (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) was 17 seconds back and another past U.S. national time trial champion who is a teammate of Dennis’s – Taylor Phinney – was third, at 20 seconds.

Powless conceded 52 seconds but moved up one spot in the overall standings, to fifth, with two days of the race to go. The youngest rider in the field of 139 said he had to really concentrate to push through a gusty wind that only grew stronger as the day wore on.

“I was holding onto my bars as tightly as I could and staying as firm as possible to be ready for the gusts that were coming,” Powless said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose it on those gusts.”
“Today was going to be the real test to see if I could hold the jersey. From here, I think I will have a little more relief than I had today.”

Powering his Specialized S-Works Shiv time trial bike through streets only 20 minutes from his hometown of Roseville, Powless received loud cheers and fan support all along the course. Not too many years ago, he was one of those fans cheering on riders in the Amgen Tour of California.

Curran was one of the surprises on the day. When he crossed the finish line midway through the day’s line-up he was in fourth place. The Tustin, California, resident eventually finished 12th, only nine seconds slower than Powless’s time.

“I knew I had done a good ride, just based off of feel and the numbers,” Curran said. “It is definitely not surprising, but definitely a little bit different than usual.”

Stage 6 Podium
1. Rohan Dennis (AUS), BMC Racing Team (USA)
2. Andrew Talansky (USA), Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA)
3. Taylor Phinney (USA), BMC Racing Team (USA)

Stage 6 Jersey Winners (no change)
Amgen Leader Jersey – Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (BEL)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Evan Huffman (USA), Rally Cycling Team (USA)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff (RUS)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Neilson Powless (USA), Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Toms Skujins (LAT), Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA) [carried over from Stage 5]

The team time trial today was stage two of four at Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease™ Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM, a 197.8-mile road race that was selected as the first of only two U.S. events on the first-ever UCI Women’s WorldTour.

Eighteen teams contested the team trial on the same 12.6-mile Folsom course the men would ride later in the day. The first team time trial for the California race, each team chose four riders to compete together, with the clock stopping when the final team member crossed the finish line.

With four-time National Time Trial Champion Kristin Armstrong (Memphis, Tenn.) at the helm, TWENTY16 – Ridebiker upset the favorites for today’s team race, with Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team, containing reigning U.S. National Road Race Champion and current race leader Megan Guarnier, settling for second place by six seconds, followed by UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, which finished 25 seconds off the best time of the day. Twenty16 – Ridebiker’s final time was 27:33 on the 12.6-mile course, which puts the average speed at a brisk 27.5 mph. Armstrong, already a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is in the hunt for a spot on this year’s Rio cycling team.

Boels-Dolmans’ Romy Kasper (GER) had the fastest time on the course today. Guarnier was the big winner in the jersey competitions with the Visit California Sprint Jersey and the Lexus Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey. The SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey changes hands to today’s winning team’s 19 year-old Chloe Dygert (Bremerton, Wash.).

In the overall standings, American riders top the leader board midway through the race with Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team) holding onto her GC lead and the Amgen Race Leader Jersey by 12 seconds over Armstrong (TWENTY16 – Ridebiker), and two-time National Time Trial Champion Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans) in third place, 22 seconds down. TWENTY16 – Ridebiker’s Leah Thomas (+:44”) and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Coryn Rivera (+:47”) round out the top five.


Stage 2 – Team Time Trial Podium
1. TWENTY16 – Ridebiker (USA)
2. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
3. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)

Stage 2 Jersey Winners
Amgen Leader Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
Lexus Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Chloe Dygert (USA), TWENTY16 – Ridebiker (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Sarah Storey (GBR), Podium Ambition Pro Cycling p/b Club La Santa (GBR) [carried over from Stage 1]

Sat., May 20 – Santa Rosa
Both events start and finish at 610 3rd St., Santa Rosa, CA

Women’s Race
Start Time: 9:15 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 12:15 p.m. PDT

Men’s Race
Start Time: 11:10 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:45 p.m. PDT

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