The second stage of this year’s Amgen Tour of California was built to test the world’s best climbers. From Rancho Cordova to South Lake Tahoe, the route sent the peloton on an epic 214 km journey that climbed over 14,500 vertical feet.
Stage two meant collaboration and success for a familiar duo in California – Rob Britton and Evan Huffman, who teamed up for major fireworks at the 2017 edition of the race. This year, Britton finished seventh after a battle with the race’s major GC contenders on the final pitches above Lake Tahoe, and Huffman claimed Most Courageous Rider thanks to a valiant push from the breakaway.
Huffman went on the attack early in his quest to claim the King of the Mountains jersey, a title he won in 2016. After gaining valuable points in the breakaway, Huffman was joined late in the stage by an elite group of climbers that included Britton.
Britton, the 2017 Tour of Utah champion, crested the stage’s highest point of Luther’s Pass (8,500 ft) in the lead group and went pull for pull with the race favorites. Heading into the steep finishing climb up to Heavenly Resort, Britton fought hard to finish in seventh place, moving him into sixth on the general classification.
As a resident of Sacramento, Huffman is a homegrown hero in California and enjoys being able to share his success with those who know him best.
“It’s awesome to have the jersey,” said Huffman. “I have a lot of friends and family that came out these first few stages. It’s cool to show them up close what I do and why I travel so much the rest of the year!”
Britton is not a stranger to the WorldTour stage, having finished 10th on the summit finish of this year’s Tour of Turkey. When the Tour of California favorites began to attack, Britton didn’t skip a beat and made sure the team was well represented.
“Anybody who knows anything about bike racing knows the names I was with up the road at the end,” said Britton. “It put a lot of work into getting prepared for this race so it was nice to see it pay off.”
Most of the peloton expected Friday’s stage to Mt. Baldy to be the major shakeup in the overall classification but the road to South Lake Tahoe proved too difficult for many pre-race favorites.
“The race exploded when we hit 6,000 feet and I just tried to stay attentive and active at the front,” said Britton. “I’m happy with the day because we were in the action the entire stage. Now it’s time to focus on recovery and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.”
Huffman is now tied for second in the KOM standings heading into Tuesday’s stage three to Morgan Hill. The route takes the riders over the iconic climb of Mt. Hamilton and offers more KOM points than any other stage during the race.
“For sure I’m going to try and go in the break tomorrow,” said Huffman. “I’m disappointed I couldn’t take the lead today so I’ll keep trying, I’ll keep fighting. Every point counts.”
Stage two results
1 ASGREEN Kasper Deceuninck – Quick Step 40 35 6:17:11
2 VAN GARDEREN Tejay EF Education First 15 20 ,,
3 MOSCON Gianni Team INEOS 6 12 0:04
4 POGAČAR Tadej UAE-Team Emirates 9 0:10
5 SCHACHMANN Maximilian BORA – hansgrohe 7 0:16
6 GREGAARD Jonas Astana Pro Team 5 0:27
7 BRITTON Rob Rally UHC Cycling 3 ,,
8 HIGUITA Sergio EF Education First 2 0:31
9 URÁN Rigoberto EF Education First 1 ,,
10 BENNETT George Team Jumbo-Visma ,,
General classification after stage two
1 VAN GARDEREN Tejay EF Education First 6 9:31:19
2 MOSCON Gianni Team INEOS 0:06
3 ASGREEN Kasper Deceuninck – Quick Step 0:07
4 POGAČAR Tadej UAE-Team Emirates 0:16
5 SCHACHMANN Maximilian BORA – hansgrohe 0:22
6 BRITTON Rob Rally UHC Cycling 0:33
7 GREGAARD Jonas Astana Pro Team ,,
8 DE LA CRUZ David Team INEOS 0:34
9 GROSSSCHARTNER Felix BORA – hansgrohe 0:35
10 BENNETT George Team Jumbo-Visma 0:36
KOM standings after stage two
1 BALLERINI Davide Astana Pro Team 11
2 ASGREEN Kasper Deceuninck – Quick Step 7
3 HUFFMAN Evan Rally UHC Cycling 7
4 MORTON Lachlan EF Education First 5
5 CATAFORD Alexander Israel Cycling Academy 5