Stage 5 - Tour of California

At today’s sign-in, the announcers were already asking about Stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California. I reminded them Stage 5 was still ahead and we had a lot to deal with. While it had a flatter profile and less technical, it was still a day where we needed to be heads up and switched on.

Heading into the race, wind was the main topic of discussion along with how it would play out with the world-class sprinters we have here.

We were fortunate that some of the sprinters’ teams immediately showed their muscle up front and helped us encourage a good small group to get away. The sprinters’ teams quickly got to work controlling their gap, and BMC Racing Team posted up behind them as we navigated some slightly more technical roads through the middle section of the stage.

There were a few crashes behind, so we were happy to be up front and clean. On these “sprint” days where we race on wider roads with fewer corners, the group typically gets nervous sooner than it needs to. Today was the perfect example of that.

The wind was never strong enough to cause major echelons, but there was plenty of nervous position fighting from corner to corner in the final 50 kilometers. Sometimes it feels like a waste of energy to be pushing up front during those moments, but then a big crash happens and the effort is obviously well spent.

We were happy to defend the jersey and head into tomorrow’s epic high-altitude climbing slog with as much banked energy as we can expect after five solid days of racing. I fully expect to have everything thrown at us, but I’m also confident in our group and looking forward to the challenge.

📷 Chris Graythen/Getty Images for AEG