A strong tailwind not only caused the race to run far ahead of schedule, with an average speed of 44.26 kilometers per hour for the 218.5-kilometer stage but created a fight for the breakaway and multiple echelons in the first 50 kilometers.
Eventually, a 12-rider breakaway, featuring Michael Schär, was able to go clear but the peloton limited their advantage to a maximum of three minutes.
Although the group was cooperating well, the peloton started to pick up the pace and reeled in the group, with the exception of Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) who launched a last-minute attack from the breakaway, with seven kilometers to go.
The bunch swept Declercq up two kilometers later, as they approach the final kick before the run into the finish line, at which point attacks on the climb shattered the peloton and caused multiple splits.
With a block headwind in the final two kilometers, the first three groups came back together which saw Bernas make contact with the front group and move to the front inside the final kilometer.
Bernas launched his sprint and held on to cross the line in seventh place, behind winner Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain Merida), almost one hour faster than the predicted race finish time.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I’m very happy with my result today as it’s the best result of my career so far, in a WorldTour race. There are probably a few things I could have done better in the last 400 meters as maybe I hesitated a bit, but this is part of the learning process. I’m just happy that I was up there at the end of the stage, as it was a hard and fast day. Generally, I do like finals like this with a bit of a kick at the end, they are usually good for me. I just thought ‘ok, I’ll give it a go, not thinking about top ten or anything, but just to go full gas from the bottom to the top and see what the situations and how I could play it. I knew from Jackson Stewart, our Sports Director, that there would be abig headwind in the final two kilometers so it was worth trying to catch the front group. In the final kilometer, I tried to follow the wheel of Richeze as he was the favorite for the sprint in that group but when he launched his sprint with 300 meters to go, there was only place for one guy so I waited until it opened a bit and was seventh in the end. I’m happy with my form and glad that I am feeling better today than I was a few days ago when I was fighting within myself a bit on the climbs, because of the altitude and then on the day I tried to bridge to the group with Cavagna, I had a bad cramp. So, this result is a nice result after those days.”
“It was absolutely fast from start, with echelons, to the finish, as we had a tailwind almost the whole day. We knew it would be a big fight to make the breakaway and for the first 50 to 60 kilometers, we had echelons, so I knew we had to stay up the front and be attentive. After about 60 kilometers, I went and made a move with some other riders and it was pretty clear that we could make the breakaway. We knew, though, that it would be difficult. The other riders were not so happy with me in the breakaway as I started the day less than two minutes back on the General Classification but we knew that EF Education First was not worried about me as tomorrow is a big climbing day and I will lose lots of time. But, Powless was in there and he is a good climber so they didn’t want to give the group to much room. Every day, I’m feeling quite good and I will keep trying in the breakaways. It’s fun to be up there and gives you something to do rather than being in the peloton all day.”
Amgen Tour of California
Stage 5 Pismo Beach > Ventura (218.5km)
Top 3: 1. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Bahrain Merida), 2. Max Richeze (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 3. Sergio Higuta (EF Education First).
CCC Team top 3: 7. Paweł Bernas, 43. Riccardo Zoidl, 51. Simon Geschke
📷 Cor Vos