Sacramento, CA……Enthusiastic crowds welcomed riders to the finish of Stage 2 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California in Sacramento this afternoon after beginning in Nevada City, California. For the second year in a row, the small Gold Rush town of Nevada City was host to the first official day of racing in the Amgen Tour of California (the city hosted Stage 1 of the 2010 race), after dangerous weather and road conditions required a last-minute change from the original Stage 2 start host city, Squaw Valley, to ensure rider safety and guarantee a complete day of racing. After three adrenalin-pumping circuits through the streets of downtown Sacramento, Ben Swift (GBR) of Sky Procycling won the stage and solidified himself as the overall race leader……
“Luckily, we got to start today and it was my opportunity to go for the win,” said Swift. “The shortened circuit we raced today meant fresh riders and a quicker finish. We had a plan to hit the front of the circuit with one lap to go. It was a pretty long circuit and you needed to ride fast. We were able to come over the top and take control on the final lap. You need to ride together and everyone did the job 100 percent.”
Beginning with a mostly downhill route, the race got off to a fast start with two, three-man breakaways that were quickly reeled back in by the peloton. The third breakaway, made up of Laszlo Bodrogi (FRA) of Team Type 1 – sanofi-aventis, Timon Seubert (GER) of Team NetApp and James Driscoll (USA) of Jamis-Sutter Home, was quickly joined by Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling, and together they stretched their lead to one minute and 15 seconds. At their peak, the breakaway had a five-minute lead over the peloton, sharing the work to fend off the group of 140 cyclists, which was being led by HTC-Highroad.
“It was my duty today to try and get in the breakaway and fortunately four of my teammates were able to join me. It was my rotation and that was the move that stuck,” said Driscoll. “We were working well together as team; it was a classic formulaic sprint and we knew the Pro Tour teams would reel us in. It was good to race aggressive like we were told to do.”
Once hitting the streets of downtown Sacramento, the breakaway’s lead was down to one minute, and Saxo Bank Sungard, HTC-Highroad, Sky Procycling and Team Spidertech Powered by C10 all positioned riders at the front of the peloton. With 17.5 kilometers to go, the breakaway was all but gone, with only a 30-second advantage and Jelly Belly Cycling p/b Kenda driving the peloton.
At 1 kilometer out from the finish line, two teams were at the front of the group, with Ryder Hesjedal (CAN) of Team Garmin-Cervelo followed by four riders from HTC-Highroad. With two laps to go, Saxo Bank Sungard and HTC-Highroad moved to the front and began to position their sprinters, but by the time the riders had one lap left, it was an all-out battle between Sky Procycling, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling and Liquigas-Cannondale.
Even a little bit of rain at the end of Stage 2 couldn’t dampen the riders’ enthusiasm for getting on their bikes and starting the competition.
“I think everyone was just really motivated to get going again, but because it was raining, guys respected each other and gave each other enough space,” continued Swift. “The rain actually helped me a little bit because, coming from Britain, you get to experience riding in rain. It puts a fear in some people and helps you control things more. Even with the rain, the circuit was lined with fans.”
“We have an eight-day race. Statistically, when you race in the north and south, you are going to have a rainy day or two,” said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, presenter of the race. “We were unlucky with the conditions we faced in Lake Tahoe, but a few rainy days isn’t the end of the world. What we saw with Ben (Swift) today is that it can rain a little bit and still be a great race and the best guy still wins.”
After a short, but intense day of racing, Swift claimed the Amgen Race Leader Jersey, as well as the Herbalife Sprint Jersey. Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey was awarded to Driscoll to recognize his strong performance in the breakaway, and the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey went to Peter Sagan (SVK) of Liquigas-Cannondale. The California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains (KOM) Jersey was not awarded today, as the revised route eliminated the stage’s only KOM.
“It’s a huge deal to get the jersey that I got today during a sprinter stage,” continued Driscoll, “especially racing in the backyard of our sponsor Sutter Home.”
The top-three general classification leaders after today are Swift in first, Sagan in second and Matthew Goss (AUS) of HTC-Highroad in third.
Continuing its title sponsorship of the race, and in honor of cancer survivors everywhere, Amgen invited cancer survivor Prakashni Shandil, West Sacramento, Calif., to be recognized and celebrated as the Breakaway from Cancer® Champion. Shandil volunteers to speak to cancer patients regarding her own disease and survival, and acts as a valuable resource for patients who are considering blood and marrow transplants.
Shandil led Amgen’s Breakaway Mile – a special one-mile walk that crosses the finish line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide. During the event, Shandil was joined by community members – cancer survivors, patients, caregivers, and advocates – and Amgen’s David Lacey, senior vice president, research, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.
Today’s Breakaway Mile was one of five Breakaway Miles that will take place during the Amgen Tour of California in support of Amgen’s national Breakaway from Cancer initiative, which was created in 2005 as a complementary component to its sponsorship of the inaugural race. The Breakaway from Cancer initiative is designed to empower patients by connecting them to education, resources, and hope.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 3 TOMORROW:
Tuesday, May 17 – Auburn to Modesto (121.9 mi/196.2 km)
Start Time: 10:15 a.m. PT
Estimated Finish Time: 3-3:30 p.m. PT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 – 5 p.m. PT
(Coordinates can be found at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/news/media-info.html)
With no KOMs, this will be one of the last stages for the sprinters to showcase their speed at the finish. Auburn is known as the “Endurance Sports Capitol of the World,” so it is only fitting that one of fastest stages of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will begin here. At 120 miles, endurance will be a factor for Stage 3. After a neutral start section through Old Town Auburn, the race will go live and head south through downtown Folsom. The next 100 miles will showcase some of the beautiful roads of central California as the race passes through “Gold Country.” The historic town of Ione (founded in 1849) will serve as the first Sprint location of Stage 3. Continuing south, the route will then pass by the shores of Lake Camanche. The second Sprint of Stage 3 will be in the cowboy town of Oakdale, and from there it will be a fast 17 miles to the start of two circuit laps in downtown Modesto, one of the favorite repeat cities of the Amgen Tour of California. Many of the cyclists feel Modesto has the best finishing circuits of the race, so look for an all-out battle to the end during Stage 3.
For full results, archived footage, GPS data, course information, race play-by-play and more, please visit the official race website at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
In addition to the website, fans can view the race on the daily VERSUS broadcasts. Stage 3 will air live on VERSUS tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT.
Stage 2 Quotes
Ben Swift (GBR), First Place, Stage 2
On winning today’s stage
“Bobby (Julich; race coach) showed a lot of faith in me this week. Today was my opportunity to go for the win. The team was absolutely perfect.”
On the shortened circuit and weather
“The shortened circuit we raced today meant fresh riders and a quicker finish. Because it was raining, guys respected each other and gave each other enough space. The whole circuit was lined with fans, even with the rain.”
“The rain helped me a little bit. Coming from Britain, you get to experience riding in rain. It puts a fear in some people and helps you control things more.”
On Stage 1
“Unfortunately, yesterday we couldn’t race, which is a shame and a lot of guys were disappointed, but the conditions were too dangerous.”
“I know a lot of guys were really disappointed not to race in Tahoe yesterday. It would have been such a nice race to watch on television. Unfortunately the snow came in. In hindsight, if the race had started two days before, we would have missed the snow. I think everybody was quite relieved to finally get started. Everyone’s kind of done their preparation, and I think everyone was just really motivated to get going again. Luckily, we got to start today.”
On the team’s strategy for today “We had a plan to hit the front of the circuit with one lap to go. It was a pretty long circuit and you needed to ride fast. We were able to come over the top and take control on the final lap. You need to ride together and everyone did the job 100 percent.”
James Driscoll (USA), Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey Winner
On the his duties in the breakaway
“It was my duty today to try and get in the breakaway and fortunately four of my teammates were able to join me. It was my rotation and that was the move that stuck. We were working well together as team; it was a classic formulaic sprint and we knew the pro teams would reel us in. It was good to race aggressive like we were told to do.”
On winning the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider jersey
“It’s a huge deal to get the jersey that I got today during a sprinter stage, especially racing in the backyard of our sponsor Sutter Home. It was great exposure for our sponsors and I am looking forward to wearing the jersey to the sponsor dinner tonight.”
On missing commencement at University of Vermont
“I am missing my commencement this week; however it was worth it because this jersey is a good replacement for my cap and gown. I checked online and I passed all of my classes, so my Mechanical Engineering degree should be mailed to me soon. One day, I hope to use this degree in the cycling industry, working towards something that I love.”
On the weather
“All the cyclists were really bummed about not racing yesterday because we are used to riding in adverse conditions. Seeing the pictures from yesterday’s conditions and knowing that there was ice on the pavement, it was in our best interest that yesterday’s stage was canceled and today’s stage was truncated. I think it is just the weather and with cycling being an outdoor sport you always have to adapt to it.”
On the team’s strategy for this week
“We have great riders to hit different stages. For the faster stages, we have the brothers – Alejandro Alberto Borrajo and Anibal Andres Borrajo. Tyler Wren should be good at Mt. Baldy and the climbs. Overall, we have a pretty good group of riders to show our perspective strengths as a team.”
Andrew Messick, President, AEG Sports, presenter of the race
On making the decision to move the start of Stage 2 to Nevada City, California
“We started looking at alternatives to move the Squaw Valley start late yesterday afternoon. As we started moving our finish crews to Sacramento, we were notified that Donner Pass was on chain control. We had some delays getting the crews to Sacramento and that is when we decided that we needed to seriously contemplate options if Donner Pass remained closed. The ability to race and the safety and security of the athletes always remained our top priority. Another concern was making sure that we could complete the stage in Sacramento. We deployed our team to assess the race route around midnight and determined that it wouldn’t be safe to ask the athletes to go over Donner Pass. From there, we put the call into Nevada City shortly after midnight. It is a place we know well and a place that historically has a deep passion for cycling. They promised us to be ready by the morning, and sure enough, when we arrived, the roads were blocked and volunteers were in place. We all feel disappointed that we didn’t get the starts we wanted in South Lake Tahoe and in Squaw Valley. We cannot control the weather. Unfortunately the weather we experienced over the weekend was a game changer.”
On the fans in Nevada City
“We weren’t surprised by the number of fans that showed today in Nevada City. There were a lot of people. Broad St. downtown was packed. It is a testament to the depth and history Nevada City has. It was beautiful and both the riders and fans were happy.”
On the weather
“It is important to point out that most of the teams and staff arrived to Tahoe earlier in the week. The teams trained and rode their bikes Tuesday through Sunday and the conditions were fantastic. Up until Sunday morning, the experience the athletes had in Tahoe was incredible. We all felt welcome. It is hard to plan for such severe weather. Yesterday was a great powder day; it just happened to be in the middle of our race.”
“We are glad we had a good, safe finish even though it rained.”
“We have an eight-day race. Statistically, when you race in the north and south for that many days, you are going to have a rainy day or two. What we saw with Ben (Swift) today is proof that it can rain a little bit and still be a great race and the best guy still wins.”
About the Amgen Tour of California
The largest cycling event in America, the2011 Amgen Tour of Californiais a Tour de France-style cycling road race, presented by AEG, that challenges the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course through the state from May 15-22. For more information about the Amgen Tour of California, please visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science’s promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab to manufacturing plant to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, bone disease, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people’s lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, The Home Depot Center, Sprint Center, The O2, NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE and NOKIA Theatre Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers, the ING Bay to Breakers foot race and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG LIVE, the organization’s live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.