Anna van der Breggen climbed to second place at the Heavenly Ski Resort on stage two of the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered by SRAM. The Olympic road champion finished 21-seconds behind stage winner Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) and remains second overall. Overnight race leader Megan Guarnier finished in fifth place at 49-seconds.
The queen stage of the Amgen Women’s Race saw a general classification shake-up as Hall jumped up to first from ninth overall. Boels-Dolmans occupies the next two spots with Van der Breggen in second place, trailing Hall by three seconds, and Guarnier now in third at 29 seconds.
“I’m really disappointed,” admitted Van der Breggen. “We came here to win the race. The goal was, of course, to keep yellow. It’s still not over yet. We will do our best to get it back again.”
Van der Breggen and Hall slipped away from an elite selection that formed about mid-way up the category one Daggett Summit. The 12.6-kilometre climb with a 6.1% average gradient topped out 10 kilometres from the finish of the heavy 108-kilometre day.
“We haven’t had a climb like that yet this year,” said Van der Breggen. “Katie went on the climb pretty fast, and for me, it was following, following. It’s a bit difficult because we don’t know all the American girls that are racing here, so it’s difficult to know what to do with them and how we can drop them.”
Van der Breggen distanced Hall following the descent off Daggett Summitt with an attack on the flat roads five kilometres before the uphill finish line. The Dutchwoman immediately pocketed five seconds over the American, but Hall clawed her way back before the 1.7-kilometre climb to the line.
“Katie was really strong, and the way she passed me on the last climb, she had something left in the end,” said Van der Breggen. “I had only one speed left. It’s difficult to have a final punch when you a long climb and then attack on the bottom before the next climb.”
In Van der Breggen’s wake, Guarnier rode to the finish with a seven-rider chase group that included Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare), Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare), Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb), Arlenis Sierra (Astana), Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (Cylance) and Martina Ritter (Drops). The group crested Daggett Summit around 35-seconds behind Van der Breggen and Hall. The chase fragmented up the hilltop finish, and Guarnier led home a group of four at 49-seconds.
While the Daggett Summit/Heavenly Ski Resort hilltop finish combination defined Amgen Women’s Race stage two, plenty of racing happened before the decisive action. Boels-Dolmans handily controlled the early action.
“We were never under pressure,” said Van der Breggen. “We rode on the front and that was it. There was a lot of wind in the open section in the middle of the race, and we tried to make an echelon one time together with Sunweb, but it didn’t really work out.
“Coming into the long climb, Karo [Karol-Ann Canuel] made a really good pace,” Van der Breggen noted. “There was a really hard headwind, and it was difficult to ride on the front. Karo did a really good job with it.”
The strength of Boels-Dolmans in the hills bolsters Van der Breggen’s confidence in her team’s ability to regain the yellow jersey in the two flat stages that follow. Each stage has one intermediate sprint with 3-2-1 bonus seconds for first-second-third and 10-6-4 bonus seconds on the finish line. With Van der Breggen only three seconds down on Hall, the Amgen Women’s Race general classification is still very much in play.
“I don’t know the plan yet. Maybe I have to turn into a sprinter,” joked Van der Breggen. “We have a strong team, a team that can be good on the flats and not only in the climbs, and we’ll try to take the yellow back of course.”