South Lake Tahoe – Making its third consecutive start in South Lake Tahoe, the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM took flight this morning with a 72.7 mile jaunt around picturesque Lake Tahoe. The 95 racer strong field, headed up by a pair of past champions in Megan Guarnier (2016, Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team) and Trixi Worrack (2015, Canyon/SRAM Racing), the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and winner of all three Ardennes Classics this year, Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team), and the winner of this year’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Ronde van Vlaanderen Vrouwen, Coryn Rivera (Team SunWeb), wasted little time getting to the heart of the matter.

An aggressive peloton placed tremendous pressure on the riders, and with only 3 kilometers into the race, the field would suffer its first abandonment, as Amy Cure (Wiggle High 5), who had been nursing an ailing knee climbed in her team car. Moments later, the elevation and climbs would thin out the pack further as more riders fell off the pace or abandoned.

Numerous breaks initiated by Alison Tetrick (Cylance Pro Cycling) and then by the pair of Ingrid Drexel (Team TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank) and Rushlee Buchanan (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) were reeled in by an ever attentive peloton policed by Anna van der Breggen and the rest of Boel-Dolmans Cycling in support of Guarnier.

With the group back together, Australian rider Lizzie Williams (Hagens Berman | Supermint) would quickly counter and build a lead of over one minute on the peloton. Once again, Boels-Dolmans took control of the bunch and thwarted any inclination of a solo attempt, and with approximately 30 km to go the group was again together. Williams would not go away empty handed; however, as her plucky move earned her the Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey.

Megan Guarnier at the Finish in Heavenly
In the closing kilometers, the big blue train of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, coming off overall victories at the Tour of the Gila and at Redlands, went to the front in the hopes of launching one of their riders. But in the end, it would again be all Boels-Dolmans, as Amy Pieters, Karol-Ann Canuel, and Anna van der Breggen successively put the screws to the field and served up the reigning US National Road Race Champion, Megan Guarnier, who cruised in solo. Guarnier would be followed closely by her teammate, van der Breggen, and Arlenis Sierra (Astana Women’s Team), who captured third.

Stage 1 Podium
Results – Stage 1, South Lake Tahoe Loop (117 km, 72.7 miles)

1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team)
3. Arlenis Sierra (Astana Women’s Team)

Lizzie Williams
Stage 1 Jersey Winners
Amgen Race Leader Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
Breakaway from Cancer® / Breakaway from Heart DiseaseTM Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Lizzie Williams (AUS), Hagens Berman | Supermint (USA)
Lexus Queen of the Mountain (QOM) Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Megan Guarnier (USA), Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED)
TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Arlenis Sierra (CUB), Astana Women’s Team (KAZ)

Visit California is not for the faint of heart. An all-new 67-mile route again hosted in South Lake Tahoe that will include the first Amgen Tour of California climb up the infamous Kingsbury Grade, an 8-mile climb that gains 2,700’ in elevation.

Photos: Leonard Basobas (LB Photos)