Amgen Tour of California stage 4: famous win for Routley


May 15th, ’14. Did the peloton get it wrong? Did the breakaway get it right? Does it matter? Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Will Routley won’t care, the Canadian has just scored one of the finest wins of his career.

May 15th, ’14. Did the peloton get it wrong? Did the breakaway get it right? Does it matter? Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Will Routley won’t care, the Canadian has just scored one of the finest wins of his career.  Wearing the king of the mountains jersey the 30-year old took the win out of a group of six riders who succeeded in doing the near impossible, holding off the peloton and the sprinters therein. Bradley Wiggins continues to wear the leader’s jersey, having conceded no serious time in the general classification.

Just a few kilometres into the day’s stage – from Monterey to Cambria – a group of six riders escaped; nothing unusual there. The six were Routley, Gregory Daniel of Bissell Development, Kevin De Mesmaeker of Team Novo Nordisk, UnitedHealthcare riders Chris Jones and Jonny Clarke and Matt Clarke of Jamis-Hagens Berman. Their lead never peaked at a huge gap, with the group maxing out at just four minutes over the peloton; it seemed at this point that the day was unfolding as planned. Add to that the fact that by the second KOM point the gap was at 2.30mins and it looked like textbook stuff.
And it is here that the questions must be asked: who got what wrong or right? Did the break just work too well together? Did the peloton get sloppy? Whatever the reason by the final KOM checkpoint the gap had grown once more to over three minutes and with just under 40km to go mutterings began to circulate that maybe the break might actually make it this time.

Credit where it’s due to the six leaders, each of them worked very effectively and it was only in the final kilometres, when they realised that victory was theirs for the taking, that the games of cat-and-mouse began. The two UHC riders, Jones and Clarke, had the monopoly on the others, but each attack they carried out proceeded to get shut down by the others. In the end it came down to a finishing sprint and it was De Mesmaeker who led things out. Having taken maximum points in all of the KOM climbs you’d think that much of Will Routley’s energy had been spent, but from somewhere he pulled out a marvellous surge of pace to best Gregory Daniel and De Mesmaeker.

The peloton arrived home over a minute later with Mark Cavendish of Omega Pharma-Quick Step getting the better of Peter Sagan of Cannondale and Matthew Goss of Orica GreenEdge. The points gained in the intermediate and finishing sprints, however, mean that Cavendish actually lost his points jersey to Routley; although with more sprint finishes anticipated that is likely to change. Cannondale’s George Bennett and Trek Factory Racing’s Jesse Sergent both finished safely in the bunch out of harm’s way; only losing a small handful of seconds in bunch sprint. Sadly James Oram’s injuries sustained in the crash yesterday ruled him out of today’s start. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Will Routley talked about the stage later on, “Things went better than planned, of course the goal was to go in the break for the KOM points again,” he said, “It was a little harder to get in the break today than it was the last few days. I had a couple teammates kind of launch me across at the right time. I had been feeling really, really good sprinting at the top of the climbs, so really that was my whole focus, just to try and lock that down.” It’s always nice when you get more than you bargained for!

Tomorrow’s stage could be an interesting one, and potentially could also see Peter Sagan take his first win of this year’s race. At 174km it’s not too long between Pismo Beach and Santa Barbara, but there is a big climb that peaks about 30km from the finish that could see a couple of GC challenges laid down. From there though it’s virtually all downhill to the finish line. If Cavendish, Goss and the other sprinters can keep pace with the leaders then a bunch spring could well be on the cards, but if the pace is fast up the climb look for Sagan to still be there at the top but probably not many of the other fast men. George Bennett will be a great asset to the Slovakian in pacing him up the climb so keep an eye open for him too.




By: Ed Wright



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