With five category two and three climbs on the cards, the road started to rise almost immediately and in the opening ten kilometers, a seven-rider breakaway, featuring Paweł Bernas, went clear.
Despite the length of the stage, the peloton kept the breakaway’s advantage at a maximum of four minutes and as the race entered the final 100 kilometers, the peloton started to pick up the chase and eventually made the catch with 75 kilometers to go.
With the race back together, the stage was set for more attacks which saw a group of 15 riders go clear inside 50 kilometers to go, while behind Zoidl, Michael Schär, Simon Geschke, and Gijs Van Hoecke remained in the reduced peloton.
Multiple General Classification contenders missed the move and began to chase, eventually catching the group with 30-kilometers and plenty of climbing, to come.
Once again, several riders slipped off the front, and behind, the last descent before the final climb to the South Lake Tahoe finish line allowed the chase groups to swell in numbers and Schär and Zoidl make contact.
Although the reduced peloton was chasing hard and started to shave seconds off the leaders’ advantage, it was a four-rider battle for the win in the final kilometer, with Asgreen proving to be the strongest on the day.
Zoidl dug deep to finish in the peloton in 29th place, 55 seconds behind Agreen, in what was a tough day of climbing and altitude.
The climbing continues on stage three with another six category climbs, including the first Hors Categorie climb of the race.
Quotes from the Finish Line
Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“It wasn’t the best day for us. Our guys didn’t have a great day with the altitude and the climbing, especially for the guys who didn’t have any altitude exposure before this race. Riccardo Zoidl did his best but he was hurting towards the end. It was a really hard, aggressive day, with attack after attack. We tried to cover our bases and had Paweł Bernas in the breakaway and he was looking good so we were hoping that could help in the long run. But, it was a tough day. We’re out of the General Classification now so we can focus on racing aggressively and won’t have to worry about the other teams controlling us. We’ll keep working to put guys in the breakaway and focus on our goal of a stage win.”
Amgen Tour of California
Stage 2: Rancho Cordova > South Lake Tahoe (214km)
Top 3: 1. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 2. Tejay van Garderen (EF Education First), 3. Gianni Moscon (Team INEOS).
CCC Team top 3: 29. Riccardo Zoidl, 36. Michael Schär, 62. Gijs Van Hoecke
📷 Cor Vos