CYCLING: Mt. Baldy stage made the difference for Amgen Tour winners Pogacar and van der Breggen

Slovenia's Amgen Tour of California champion, Tadej Pogacar

When the 2019 Amgen Tour of California route was finalized for both men and women, it was clear that the brutal stage that ended with a climb up Mt. Baldy would be the determining race within the race.

The win for Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar in that sixth stage, and the second-place finish of Dutch star Anna van der Breggen were the keys to their victories as the race finished in Pasadena, California on Saturday.

In the men’s race, Peter Sagan (SVK) won the opening stage with his patented final sprint, extending his record as the leading stage winner with his 17th career victory in the Amgen Tour. But then American Tejay van Garderen – a former winner – took control after Stage 2 and wore the yellow jersey for three more stages, but always with a slim lead of just a few seconds.

He entered the decisive sixth stage with just a four-second lead on Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen, with the first 19 riders all within a minute. In the final climb, Colombia’s Sergio Higuita had the lead, but Pogacar made the chase and caught him with about 2 km to go. Then the fun started.

“Over the last few kilometers, I was really on the limit,” Pogacar said. “But when I caught Higuita,, I knew that I shouldn’t ride full gas because he could attack me and take the jersey from me, so I was just riding behind him or next to him. I was prepared.”

When the finish came, Pogacar, 20, waited for a straight line and then charged to the line, just edging Higuita and taking the lead by 16 seconds – including the time bonuses – over the Colombian. In Saturday’s final stage, Dutch rider Cees Bol edged Sagan, trying for a second stage win, and Pogacar cruised in with the pack, five seconds off the pace.

The final tally saw Pogacar win his first-ever World Tour race with the 16-second margin intact over Higuita, with Asgreen third, 17 seconds back. Van Garderen finished ninth, 1:22 down.

The three-stage women’s Amgen Tour was actually decided on the first day, when van der Breggen attacked and no one followed. Her victory gave her a 25-second lead on the field and 33 seconds over defending champ Katie Hall of the U.S., her main challenger, but also a teammate on the Boels-Dolmans group.

The second stage that also finished on the road up Mt. Baldy and Hall pushed the pace with 4 km to go, with van der Breggen pushing to catch up, and separating from the rest of the riders. Hall took the stage win, but with van der Breggen not losing any time to Hall (other than the time bonus between first and second), the outcome on Saturday appeared clear.

The final stage featured a long climb through the Angelus National Forest and then a descent into Pasadena that turned into a final mass sprint. Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, second in the first stage, managed to get to the line first this time, just ahead of Cuban Arlenis Sierra, with Hall and van der Breggen riding in the peloton and given the same time , in 13th and 17th place, respectively.

The final margin of 29 seconds gave van der Breggen her second Amgen Tour win in the last three years and Hall has now finished 2-1-2 in the last three editions.

The men’s World Tour now focuses solely on the Giro d’Italia through its finish on 2 June. The women’s tour is in Spain for the Emakumeen Euskal Bira four-stage race starting on Tuesday. Summaries:

UCI World Tour/Amgen Tour of California
California (USA) ~ 12-18 May 2019
(Full results here)

Stage 1 (143.0 km): 1. Peter Sagan (SVK), 3:14:10; 2. Travis McCabe (USA), 3:14:10; 3. Max Walscheid (GER), 3:14:10; 4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (NOR), 3:14:10; 5. Michael Morkov (DEN), 3:14:10. Also in the top 25: 13. Miguel Bryon (USA), 3:14:14; … 20. Michael Hernandez (USA), 3:14:14; … 22. Gavin Mannion (USA), 3:14:14; … 25. Neilson Powless (USA), 3:14:14.

Stage 2 (194.5 km): 1. Kasper Asgreen (DEN), 6:17:11; 2. Tejay van Garderen (USA), 6:17:11; 3. Gianni Moscon (ITA), 6:17:15; 4. Tadej Pogacar (SLO), 6:17:21; 5. Maximilian Schachmann (GER), 6:17:27.

Stage 3 (207.0 km): 1. Remi Cavanga (FRA), 5:44:22; 2. Ben King (USA), 5:51:33; 3. Simon Geschke (GER), 5:51:33; 4. Asgreen (DEN), 5:52:09; 5. Jasper Philipsen (BEL), 5:52:09. Also in the top 25: 11. McCabe (USA), 5:52:09; … 25. Kyle Murphy (USA), 5:52:09.

Stage 4 (212.5 km): 1. Fabio Jakobsen (NED), 5:53:22; 2. Philipsen (BEL), 5:53:22; 3. Sagan (SVK), 5:53:22; 4. Nacer Bouhanni (FRA), 5:53:22; 5. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), 5:53:22. Also in the top 25: 20. McCabe (USA), 5:53:22; … 22. Bryon (USA), 5:53:22.

Stage 5 (218.5 km): 1. Ivan Garcia Cortina (ESP), 4:56:11; 2. Maxmiliano Richeze (ARG), 4:56:11; 3. Sergio Higuita (COL), 4:56:11; 4. Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED), 4:56:11; 5. Asgreen (DEN), 4:56:11. Also in the top 25: 12. Gavin Mannion (USA), 4:56:11; … 16. Van Garderen (USA), 4:56:11.

Stage 6 (127.5 km): 1. Pogacar (SLO), 3:48:49; 2. Sergio Higuita (COL), 3:48:49; 3. George Bennett (NZL), 3:48:54; 4. Richie Porte (AUS), 3:49:59; 5. Riccardo Zoidl (AUT), 3:49:11. Also in the top 25: 14. Mannion (USA), 3:50:15; … 17. Van Garderen (USA), 3:50:17; … 25. Murphy (USA), +3:51:44.

Stage 7 (141.0 km): 1. Cees Bol (NED), 2:53:16; 2. Sagan (SVK), 2:53:16; 3. Philipsen (BEL), 2:53:16; 4. Phil Bauhaus (GER), 2:53:16; 5. Richeze (ARG), 2:53:16. Also in the top 25: 7. McCabe (USA), 2:53:16.

Final Standings: 1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO), 32:55:12; 2. Sergio Higuita (COL), +0:16; 3. Kasper Asgreen (DEN), +0:17; 4. George Bennett (NZL), +0:29; 5. Richie Porte (AUS), +0:41; 6. Simon Spilak (SLO), +1:03; 7. Jesper Hansen (DEN), +1:1:18; 8. Felix Grossschartner (AUT), +1:18; 9. Tejay van Garderen (USA), +1:22; 10. Maximilian Schachmann (GER), +1:23. Also in the top 25: 15. Gavin Mannion (USA), +2:17.

UCI Women’s World Tour/Amgen Women’s Tour of California
California (USA) ~ 16-18 May 2019
(Full results here)

Stage 1 (96.5 km): 1. Anna van der Breggen (NED), 2:36:17; 2. Elisa Balsamo (ITA), 2:36:35; 3. Arlenis Sierra (CUB), 2:36:35; 4. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), 2:36:35; 5. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA), 2:36:35. Also in the top 25: 7. Emma White (USA), 2:36:35; … 13. Katie Hall (USA), 2:36:37; 14. Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA), 2:36:37; … 21. Chloe Dygert (USA), 2:36:39; 22. Coryn Rivera (USA), 2:36:39.

Stage 2 (74.0 km): 1. Hall (USA), 2:36:39; 2. Van der Breggen (NED), 2:36:39; 3. Moolman (RSA), 2:37:12; 4. Clara Koppenburg (GER), 2:37:25; 5. Omer Shapira (ISR), 2:37:36. Also in the top 25: 9. Doebel-Hickok (USA), 2:37:58; 10. Amber Neben (USA), 2:38:16; … 12. Tayler Wiles (USA), 2:38:32; … 25. Whitney Allison-Schultz (USA), 2:41:20.

Stage 3 (115.5 km): 1. Balsamo (ITA), 3:19:57; 2. Sierra (CUB), 3:19:57; 3. Leigh Ann Ganzar (USA), 3:19:57; 4. Dygert (USA), 3:19:57; 5. Kirchmann (CAN), 3:19:57. Also in the top 25: 12. Doebel-Hickok (USA), 3:19:57; 13. Hall (USA), 3:19:57; … 15. Erica Clevenger (USA), 3:19:57.

Final Standings: 1. Anna van der Breggen (NED), 8:32:34; 2. Katie Hall (USA), +0:29; 3. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA), +1:06; 4. Clara Koppenburg (GER), +1:25; 5. Kasia Niewiadoma (POL), +1:34; 6. Brodie Chapman (AUS), +1:46; 7. Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA), +1:58; 8. Omer Shapira (ISR), +2:12; 9. Emma Grant (GBR), +2:15; 10. Pauliena Rooijakkers (NED), +2:28. Also in the top 25: 11. Tayler Wiles (USA), +2:32; 12. Amber Neben (USA), +

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