After cycling for seven days and 583 miles across California, Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s George Bennett (NZL) claimed the 2017 Amgen Tour of California race championship today in Pasadena with an overall time of 22 hours, 54 minutes and 38 seconds at America’s largest professional cycling stage race. In his third Amgen Tour of California appearance, the New Zealander had ridden in second place overall since Stage 2 Monday, until overtaking the race lead fromBORA-hansgrohe’s reigning Polish National Road Race champion Rafal Majka in an inspired Big Bear Lake Time Trial ride on Friday.Today’s victory marks the first WorldTour overall race win for a New Zealand professional cyclist.
Photos © Darrell Parks
“It’s a race all the riders look forward to. We used of think of coming to California as a holiday race, a fun, away from home time where you could sit and take it a bit easy, but now it has turned into a super-hard race and a really competitive race… You see a lot of big stars here now,” said Bennett. “Today is really special. I had a few hours last night to let it sink in, and then it clicked over to business time, and we knew we had a job on our hands today, and we were up to the task. It’s really relieving to be over the line and still have this jersey on.”
After Stage 7 presented by Breakaway from Cancer®from Mountain High to Pasadena, Majka ended the race in second place, 35 seconds behind Bennett’s overall time. Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team’sAndrew Talansky (Napa, Calif.) rode into third place overall yesterday, and maintained that position to earn his first career overall podium finish at this race (he was fourth overall last year). Talansky and Majka attacked Bennett during the stage, but ultimately were not able to pull back enough time to realign the leader board today. American riders Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) and Ian Boswell (Team Sky) round out the overall top-5.
Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton (CAN), who spent the past three road stages in a breakaway, rode out front again today in a breakaway of six, along with teammates Sepp Kuss (USA) and Evan Huffman (El Dorado Hills, Calif.).
Huffman was contesting the King of the Mountain competition, a title he took at last year’s race, which has been led by UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Daniel Jaramillo (COL) since the second day of racing this week. Huffmanswept the three KOMs today, and the bonus points nearly earned him the category win. Huffman instead took his second stage win of the week (he also won Stage 4) and clinched the Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey. Jaramillo retained the Lexus King of the Mountain Jersey.
Also in the lead group today were Team Sky’s David Lopez Garcia (ESP) and Cofidis, Solutions Crédits’ Nicolas Edet (FRA), who took second and third place on the stage respectively. Garcia’s Team Sky will go home with the overall team classification win as well.
After a disappointing time trial yesterday where he was plagued with mechanical issues,
Team Dimension Data’s Lachlan Morton (AUS) also spent the day in the breakaway.Morton picked up maximum Sprint points outside of Pasadena, and along with his determined ride today, earned back theTAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey, which Morton he had held since Stage 2, until it transferred to Team Sky’s Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) yesterday.
BORA-hasgrohe’s two-time World Champion Peter Sagan (SVK) added a stage win to his Amgen Tour of California record (now 16) this week, and will go home with his seventh Visit California Sprint Jersey.
“It’s a very nice race. Good weather, nice people and good stages. I’m very happy I got one stage. That’s very good for me….I got another green jersey, so I’m pretty satisfied with this [Amgen] Tour of California. Yes, we could have done more, but a race is a race, and everyone is different,” said Sagan.
Earlier in the day, the main group containing Bennett lost ground on the descent after the second KOM, back more than a minute and a half with 30 miles left to ride. Though the peloton gained time back, pulling within 45 seconds in the final few miles as the sprinters’ teams arranged themselves in hopes of a group sprint finish, the breakaway persisted with the peloton rolling over the finish line 22 seconds behind the stage leaders.
“What an amazing week of racing. We’re really proud to have reached a new level for the Amgen Tour of California as part of the UCI WorldTour, which is the highest level of cycling,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “While it might be the twelfth edition of this race, we continue to see major firsts with a new rider winning the Amgen Tour of California and a Continental team taking stages in a WorldTour race for the first time in history.”
Stage 7 Podium
1. Evan Huffman (USA), Rally Cycling (USA)
2. David Lopez Garcia(ESP), Team Sky (GBR)
3. Nicolas Edet (FRA), Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA)
2017 Final Standings
1. (22h54’38”) George Bennett (NZL) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo (NED)
2. (+:35) Rafal Majka(POL), BORA-hansgrohe (GER)
3. (+:36) Andrew Talansky (USA), Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team (USA)
4. (+:45) Brent Bookwalter (USA), BMC Racing Team (USA)
5. (+ 1:00) Ian Boswell (USA), Team Sky (GBR)
2017 Jersey Winners
Amgen Race Leader Jersey – George Bennett (NZL) – Team LottoNL-Jumbo (NED)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey –Daniel Jaramillo (COL), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Evan Huffman (USA), Rally Cycling (USA)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), BORA-hansgrohe (GER)
TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Lachlan Morton (AUS), Team Dimension Data (RSA)
Overall Team Classification – Team Sky
Earlier this week, the women’s four-day, 256.6-mile Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease™ Women’s Race empowered with SRAM concluded in Sacramento with Boels-Dolmans’ 2016 Olympic Games road race gold medalist Anna van der Breggen (NED) claiming the race championship just one second ahead of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Katie Hall (Saratoga, Calif.). This was the second year for the race on the UCI Women’s WorldTour.
“Mounting women’s and men’s WorldTour level races brought high expectations coming into this year. Reflecting back on the past 10 days, it’s clear we lived up to that designation with world-class racing, dramatic wins and record-breaking crowds, all while showcasing the beauty of California,” said Klein.