Amgen Tour of California #3: Gibraltar Road proves to be decisive

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Stage 3 of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California was another tough and contested one on the sunshine state’s stunning backroads. It was also one for the GC contenders, with a summit finish up on Gibraltar road. At the end French Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) timed his effort perfectly to get the better of Peter Stetina (Trek) and George Bennett (Lotto NL-Jumbo). Jacques Janse van Rensburg was Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s best place finisher.

The stage got off to a fast start with two KOM’s just a few kilometers from the start in Thousand Oaks. Eventually, 7 riders managed to get away. Among them was the current leader in this classification, Evan Huffmann (Rally). He retained his lead, but was dropped when the stage reached its conclusion. The break had managed to defend a gap of around 3.30 minutes for most of the stage. However, with 20 kilometers to go the break was down to 4 riders. They would later get caught on the grueling climb up Gibraltar road.

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This 12 kilometer long new addition to the Amgen Tour of California offered an average gradient of 8 percent. And these proved to be decisive. The group of favorites also saw Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Nathan Haas being in the mix for a good part of the climb. With the finale looming 3 riders had gone clear. Stetina was one of them and seemed to be the winner of the day. Alaphilippe did have other plans, though, and chased the American down. He went on to take the stage honors as well as the overall lead. Janse van Rensburg crossed the line 2:38 minutes later in 22nd place, Teklehaimanot came home in 24th position.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider

The race nearly went as we had planned it. There was an early breakaway and Cannondale controlled the gap for their race leader Ben King. It was our goal to keep me up there for the final and I was feeling really well all day. The team helped me getting in a good position for the last climb. I went into Gibraltar road near the front, but then somehow lost the legs. I’m a bit disappointed at the moment that I couldn’t end up with a really good result today after all the work the team put in for me. But that’s how it goes sometimes. Tomorrow’s another day.

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