Phinney Soloes to Stage 5 Victory in Tour of California 2014
In what was another surprise ending for some of the world’s strongest sprinters, BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colorado) whizzed to a solo victory 12 seconds ahead of the peloton to capture his first Amgen Tour of California stage win in today’s 107.4-mile ride from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara.
Phinney, one of the largest riders in this year’s Amgen Tour of California, at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 185 pounds, used his weight to his advantage on the descent from the San Marcos Pass, about 15 miles from the finish. Utilizing his time trial skills, Phinney, held off the pack into Santa Barbara.
“If you’re heavy and have speed, you can go faster than everybody else (downhill),” explained Phinney. “I was able to tuck and pull away and accelerate up to speed and then tuck and keep pulling away.”
"I kind of pinpointed this race as a target, as a stage I could do well in," Phinney added. "I was nervous about the climb. I was nervous about the heat. Once we got on the climb, I knew I was going to be able to stay with the group and at least sprint for top three and maybe get on the podium again. But to do what I did is kind of one of those things where you get to the finish and you're like, 'How did I do that?' And why did I do that?"
Riding for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and well-supported by teammates including American Ted King, Peter Sagan’s (SVK) second-place finish was enough to put him in the Sprint Leader Jersey for the first time this week. Sagan has won the Points competition at the Amgen Tour of California for four years running, and at the Tour de France for two years running.
Sagan, who also holds the record for Amgen Tour of California stage wins (ten), was gunning for the stage victory today, with his teammates doing the heavy lifting and setting the tempo at the front of the peloton for much of the stage. Cannondale was joined by Team GreenEdge to chase Phinney when he leapt out of the pack with about 15 miles to ride, as they vied to launch their lead sprinter Matthew Goss (AUS) in the finishing kilometer. Approaching the line together with the main group, Goss went head to head with Sagan in the final meters to finish the day’s stage in third place.
Stage 5 of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California began in a uniquely California fashion – on the pier, a first for the race, in first-time host city Pismo Beach. The peloton may have felt déjà vu as a breakaway of six took the lead around mile ten, as happened yesterday. However, the peloton was determined to keep the gap to well under three minutes today and the riders within reach. Spurred to quicker speeds when Trek Factory Racing’s German Jens Voigt launched an uphill attack on San Marcos Pass, the peloton easily reeled back all six during the 5.3-mile ascent.
Once at the top of the categorized climb, which has a 5.1 average grade, Phinney spotted an opportunity and launched a solo attack during the fast descent into Santa Barbara. Phinney’s unique style of riding downhill on his crossbar, along with his heavy frame relative to most of the cyclists, saw him pulling away further and further from the main group as he rocketed toward Santa Barbara at speeds approaching 60 mph. His lead grew to 40 seconds with four miles left to ride, and there was nothing the peloton could do to catch him before the oceanfront finish.
Known as one of the world’s top time trial experts, this is Phinney’s seventh career stage win, though only the second in a road race (2013 Tour of Poland). Phinney’s impressive victory also earned him the Most Courageous Rider Jersey today.
“Sometimes you just have a voice inside you that says go,” said Phinney. “It just got more and more painful as I went on but I knew that if I made it, it would be worth it, and it definitely, definitely was. It’s the best way to win, to win like that.”
Will Routley (CAN) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies spent his first road race day in the peloton rather than the breakaway, but sprung ahead on San Marcos Pass to once again claim the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain Jersey.
Today’s result left the leader board unaltered with Team Sky Pro Cycling’s Bradley Wiggins (GBR) retaining the Amgen Race Leader Jersey for the fourth day, trailed by Team Garmin-Sharp’s Rohan Dennis (AUS) with +:28 and Team NetApp-Endura’s Tiago Machado (POR) with +1:09. Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas) of Team Giant-Shimano remains in the Best Young Rider jersey and fourth place overall.