Women’s Tour of California ends in a lightning fast finale
Hidden within the pack and coming seemingly out of nowhere, Dutchwoman Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) thundered down the centre of the peloton to claim the final stage win of the Amgen Breakaway From Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM in Sacramento today.
The fourth and final stage of the women’s WorldTour event was perfectly suited to Wild’s strength, who’s always a fearsome contender in mass sprints.
Today’s stage was a 70-kilometre circuit race in the heart of Sacramento, and despite a few short-lived breakaways, it inevitably was going to come down to a mad dash to the finish line.
“It was a pretty chaotic but my teammates put me in a really good position. I didn’t really have a leadout but my position was good,” Wild said afterward.
A few casualties occurred along the way, but the General Classification contenders stayed out of harm’s way. With little chance to change the GC, today was about stage glory and it seemed like the Cylance Pro Cycling and United Healthcare Pro Cycling (UHC) teams wanted that glory the most. Cylance controlled the front of the peloton as they passed the finish line lap after lap. But with just a few laps to go, the front coloured blue as UHC took control, relying on the strength and experience of time trail world champion Linda Villumsen and US national criterium champion Lauren Tamayo to deliver Coryn Rivera into a prime position to unleash her sprint.
Other teams were all too keen to let UHC do the lion’s share of the work, and jostled for position behind them. As the UHC lead-out train started to lose steam, Rivera launched her powerful sprint but she was not alone. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) was right there in the green points jersey and so was Canyon-SRAM’s Lisa Brennauer and Wild tucked in the middle. After a few hard pedal strokes, Wild advanced so quickly no one could match her speed.
With her powerful sprint, Wild earned Hitec Product’s first win in a UCI women’s WorldTour event. Brennauer finished in second place, Vos third.
“Winning is always a good feeling but it’s also strange because the best riders are here,” said Wild, indicating that she perhaps surprised even herself today on the WorldTour stage.
Studs of the race: the Boels-Dolmans team
Wearing the national champion stars-and-stripes jersey Boels-Dolmans’ Megan Guarnier seized the race lead in South Lake Tahoe on the first stage of the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease™ Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM, and managed to hold onto it as the days went by. Stage after stage, Boels-Dolmans was in control and kept not one but two riders on the GC podium with Evelyn Stevens in third.
Boels-Dolmans had a terrific team time trial, coming in just six seconds short of first place, and also walked away with the green jersey as the leader in the overall points classification.
“This one is up there,” said Guarnier, who lives in California. “Being in America, winning a WorldTour event, and then taking a leader’s jersey. The crowds are amazing. It’s a little bit surreal, and I’m super proud to be here.”
Guarnier hopes to defend her national champion title at the USA Cycling National Championships next week before going to the Olympic Games in August, along with several of her teammates who will ride for different countries.
1. Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products)
2. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM)
3. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
4. Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare Pro Cycling)
5. Amy Pieters (Wiggle-High5)
Final General Classification
1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-RideBiker)
3. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans)
4. Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv)
5. Leah Thomas (Twenty16-Ridebiker)
Amgen Leader Jersey – Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
Lexus Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey – Mara Abbott (Wiggle-High5)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Chloe Dygert (TwentyT16 – Ridebiker)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Shara Gillow (Rabo-Liv)
Overall Team Classification
Highlights from Stage 4