The 6th stage of the Tour of California saw a return to the time trial around Big Bear Lake. Jonathan Dibben (Team Sky) took the stage win, Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) was 2nd and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) finished 3rd. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) moved into the overall lead of the race.
The 24km time trial around Big Bear Lake may have had some slight rolling undulations but the biggest challenge came from the altitude, with the entire course run at over 2000m. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had one major goal today and that was for Lachlan Morton to preserve his top place on GC and keep his Best Young Rider Jersey too.
Our remaining 6 African Team riders all got through the course in good shape with Ben King putting in a more than decent ride. Our former American champion blitzed around the course in a time of 29’11” which proved to be 44 seconds off of the time set by Dibben, placing King 17th on the stage.
Unfortunately, through no fault of his own, Morton did not have as good a day. As the 6th last starter, our Australian kicked off the start ramp only to hear a loud cracking sound. A mechanical issue with his rear wheel meant he had to change his bike within the first 100 meters of the stage. As he set off on his road bike, our team car changed the rear wheel on his time trial bike and returned it to him upon catching back up to our flying Australian. Despite the major setback, Morton kept his cool and smashed out a respectable time all things considered.
In the end though, it was not enough to reach the goals set for today as Morton would slip down to 9th overall and lost his Best Young Rider Jersey by an agonizing 8 seconds. It was a tough blow for our entire team who had all worked so hard this week. There is still one stage to go with the race finishing in Pasadena tomorrow and our African Team will come out fighting.