The Queen stage of the Amgen Tour of California would prove to be the perfect spectacle as the action seemed to be never ending. The day’s victor would be Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep) with the Team Sky duo of Sergio Henao and Ian Bowell in 2nd and 3rd to cross the line at the top of Mt. Baldy.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would be the instigators of the early action as Johann van Zyl was one of the 7 riders to jump away from the peloton early on in the stage. Johann would be the real aggressor of the group though, attacking on the penultimate climb of the day with Daniel Oss (BMC Racing) the only rider able to follow our young South African.
Team Sky were the team in control of the peloton though and they put their “mountain train” on the front of the bunch for the final 40km. Johann and Oss only had 45″ on the 30 rider peloton by the time they hit the 30km to go point and so “Van Snail” would put in one last dig, dropping Oss in pursuit of Mt. Baldy solo. Sky would hunt down Johann 10km later though, setting up for the GC showdown on Mt. Baldy.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg was still part of the now very select peloton as the riders started Baldy with 9km to go. Jacques would put up a good fight initially as Sky started throwing their early punches. Nobody told Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) that today’s stage was not one for the sprinters as he went toe-to-toe with the small climbers on the steep gradients, trying to hold on to his GC leaders jersey. In the end Alaphilippe’s victory saw him take the race lead by just 2 seconds from Sagan.
Johann van Zyl – Rider
I really enjoyed today’s stage. It’s weird because sometimes mountainous stages like these actually suit me. If i get in the right move and get the motor running then it feels like I can go forever. It was pity Sky didn’t give us more time but they had their job to do as well. Overall I am happy that I got in the break. It just wouldn’t feel right doing a stage race and not being in the break at least once.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider
I felt better today but I still felt a bit tired. I will have a break now after California though. I was happy with how I went today, starting the final 5km in a select group so that’s good for the motivation. After a good rest I will focus on the Dauphine on then the Tour de France if I get selected.