South Lake Tahoe, CA – Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), a self-described man for the Classics, rode in three breakaways today and ultimately surged to a victory at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe ahead of American Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First Pro Cycling) . The victory was Asgreen’s first WorldTour stage win following a 2nd place finish in the Tour of Flanders this spring. Team Ineos’ Gianni Moscon (ITA), who was a factor on the hills in the latter part of the day, finished third for the stage.
Despite his second placed finish on the day, van Garderen climbed 14,500 feet on the 133-mile ride from Rancho Cordova to South Lake Tahoe to overtake the Amgen Tour of California race lead from BORA-hasgrohe’s three-time World Champion Peter Sagan, on the same roads where he lost it last year to the young Columbian rider Egan Bernal. Van Garderen now leads the race by six seconds after battling three other riders up the final climb including
“I’m super satisfied. It would have been nice to get the stage victory – I gave it a few digs and sprinted hard in the end but came up second, but I was actually surprised to get the jersey…it’s always an honor to be in yellow in the home country,” said van Garderen, who placed second in last year’s Amgen Tour of California and holds the 2013 championship.
Stage 2 presented by Visit California was the second longest day of the race at 133.3 miles, and the first day of climbing complete with 14,500 feet of elevation gain including the final upward slope to the finish at Heavenly Ski Resort.
With a little more than 50 miles to ride, EF Education First took over at the front of the peloton on the longest uphill stretch of the day and very quickly reeled back an early breakaway. Australian Lachlan Morton (EF Education First Cycling), the 2017 Amgen Tour of California Best Young Rider, made a solo jump out of the pack at just over 40 miles to go, followed by a peloton split that saw many GC contenders and Sagan, who began the day in the yellow race leader jersey, fall to the secondary group.
A chase group of 14 – which contained Morton’s compatriot Rohan Dennis (BAHRAIN – MERIDA), who finished second in this race in 2014 and 2016, and Sacramento area cyclist Neilson Powless (Jumbo-Visma) caught Morton before the climb up Carson Pass and held the gap until the final miles.
As some of the lead group riders began to fall back on the slopes of Luther Pass, Jumbo-Visma’s 2017 race champion George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Sergio Higuita (EF Education First Cycling) tried to bridge to the lead group.Dennis, the current World Time Trial Champion who also hold stage winds at all three Grand Tours, drove the pace to the Sprint line coming across second to pick up valuable seconds off his overall time in the form of bonus points. Asgreen and Astana Pro Team’s Davide Ballerini (ITA) who spent a full day on the front, led the chase group on the descent.
The final uphill miles blew apart the lead group with van Garderen and teammate Taylor Phinney (USA) making their way to the front group, as well as UAE Team Emirates 20-year-old first-time team leaderTadej Pogacar (SLO), who captured the TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey today.
Astana attacked on the final climb followed by van Garderenwho took the lead, with Moscon, Ballerini andAsgreen close behind. On the final uphill meters, van Garderen launched a final attack that put him in the overall race lead, with Asgreencountering past him to take the stage.
Today’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey went to Rally UHC Cycling’s Sacramento-area rider Evan Huffman, the race’s 2016 KOM winner who racked up two stage wins in 2017, who spent the day out front from the early breakaway and continued to push the pace of the lead group up the steep segments of the race later in the stage.