Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team is back on American soil for the Amgen Tour of California Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered by SRAM. The four-day stage race beginning in South Lake Tahoe, California is the eighth round of the UCI Women’s WorldTour. Americans Evie Stevens and Megan Guarnier headline the six-strong Dutch squad.
“It’s a great race,” said Karol-Ann Canuel, who rode in support of last year’s winner Trixi Worrack (then Velocio-SRAM, now CANYON//SRAM Racing). “It’s well-organised, and the crowds are really fantastic. They make a big show out of the race, and that’s a lot of fun. The terrain is hard, and because of the travel and the altitude, that makes it even harder.”
The race starts on 19 May with a road stage at altitude in South Lake Tahoe, California. Stage two is a team time trial in Folsom, California. Two road stages at sea level follow on the weekend in Santa Rosa (Saturday) and Sacramento (Sunday).
“The first stage of the race is similar to the first two stages from last year,” said Canuel. “We have the same loop we had on stage one but the same finishing climb we had on stage two. We’ll ride the final climb in training tomorrow, so we’ll all know what to expect. It’s really beautiful around Lake Tahoe – a beautiful place to suffer.”
Although Amgen Tour of California have hosted a women’s race since 2009, previous iterations of the race have seen the women’s peloton race a one-day criterium (2008-2010), a one-day circuit race (2014) or an invite-only time trial (2011-2015). Last year marked the first time in the ten-year history of the race that a women’s stage race was held alongside the men’s event. Worrack won the inaugural three-dayl event by virtue of bonus seconds on the final stage while Stevens won what was then an invite-only standalone time trial.
“I think this year will be a lot different than last year because of the team time trial on Friday,” said Canuel. “I don’t expect the race to be decided by bonus seconds. The splits should be big enough in the team time trial for the overall not to be so close.”
The team time trial in Folsom represents the second collective race against the clock Boels-Dolmans will race during the 2016 season. The team took a historic victory in April in the Energiewacht Tour team time trial – an important first for a team determined to win gold in discipline at the 2016 Qatar World Championships. Teams will race the 20.3-kilometere course on road bikes.
“It’s too expensive for the European teams to fly here with their team time trial bikes,” explained sport director Danny Stam. “The travel is already very expensive for such a short race. It makes more sense to race on road bikes than to travel with eight bikes more.”
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team dominated the UCI Women’s WorldTour races this spring winning the first five rounds with Lizzie Armitstead (Strade Bianche, Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Ronde van Vlaanderen) and Chantal Blaak (Ronde van Drenthe and Gent Wevelgem). The team missed out on the win in Flèche Wallonne but still managed to put two on the podium with Stevens in second and Guarnier in third. Boels-Dolmans opted out of round seven, the Tour of Chongming Island, yet still occupies the first three spots of the UCI Women’s WorldTour overall rankings with Armitstead (386 points), Blaak (342 points) and Guarnier (325 points).
“The level here is higher than last year,” said Canuel. “There are more teams here from Europe and stronger teams here, too. It’s different than the spring racing, but we have a team that can do well here and riders that can win here. For a few of us, we’ve had a few weeks of training at home, and I think everyone is excited to get back to racing.”
Follow Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race live on the team twitter account (@boelsdolmansct), head mechanic Richie Steege’s twitter feed (@richiesteege) and using the official hashtags #AmgenTOC and #UCIWWT. Use the TourTracker during the race for live text updates and a daily post-race video recap.
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team for Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race: