What's Cool In Road Cycling

Amgen Tour, Stage 5: Van Garderen Takes The Lead

Tejay van Garderen took the overall lead of the Amgen Tour of California Thursday while teammate Thor Hushovd finished third on the stage that saw the BMC Racing Team place three riders in a surprise breakaway.

Unexpected Situation
With about 55 kilometers to go in the 185.7-km race, a change of course direction and strong crosswinds sliced the peloton into pieces and putting former race leader Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) into immediate difficulty. “Things started getting nervous,” Hushovd said. “First, there was a lot of wind, and then more and more, so we stayed all together, the whole team. I think RadioShack started the acceleration. Tejay and I were able to go up together and then Michi (Michael Schär) was there, so it was perfect.” The 16 riders at the front quickly built a lead that grew to 50 seconds with 38 km to go, was pegged back to 30 seconds with 22 km left but eventually stretched out to more than a minute by the finish. “At the beginning of the day, nothing suggested today would be anything more than a bunch sprint and a non-GC (general classification) day,” van Garderen said. “But nobody can really predict the weather and that’s cycling. You always have to be attentive and luckily our guys were.” Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) soloed out of the break to win the stage by six seconds while Hushovd earned his third straight top 10 finish of the race.

Team Was Attentive
BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said it was satisfying to see the squad react to a situation that was discussed as a possibility in the pre-race meeting. “The guys were ready to go and once the gap was done there was nothing to do except ride, even if it was for a few seconds,” he said. “It never went far away because there were a lot of teams chasing from behind. But the result is that Tejay is in yellow and that some time has been taken over the climbers and other GC contenders.” Heading into Friday’s 31.6-km individual time trial, van Garderen leads 2010 Amgen Tour of California winner Michael Rogers (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) by 42 seconds while Acevedo is third, 50 seconds back. Van Garderen said wearing the race leader’s yellow jersey will not change his approach to the race against the clock that finishes with a three-kilometer climb. “You go in and ride as best as you can and as hard as you can,” he said. “Right now all my focus is on the time trial. We’ll deal with Mt. Diablo (Saturday’s mountain-top finish) when we get there.”

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