After a crash-marred start to the season, Geschke’s result comes on just his 11th day of racing this season after breaking his collarbone on the final stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.
Geschke’s attack with 23 kilometers to go was one of many moves from CCC Team during the stage, which started with a large 19-rider breakaway, featuring Michael Schär and Szymon Sajnok, that went clear in the first 20 kilometers.
As the group established a 45-second advantage, the peloton split into pieces due to strong winds and a fast pace at the front of the bunch with many teams unhappy with the composition of the breakaway.
The breakaway was brought back after 40 kilometers which set the stage for new attacks and eventually, Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Alex Hoehn (USA National Team) were allowed to go clear.
With more than 2900 meters of climbing throughout the 207-kilometer stage, the peloton was content to let the leading duo stretch their advantage to more than ten minutes.
Paweł Bernas attacked from the peloton approaching 100 kilometers to go, at which point the breakaway’s advantage was sitting at eight minutes, and managed to gain four minutes on the bunch but was unable to close in on Cavagna and Hoehn.
With the steep climbs taking their toll, Bernas was caught by the peloton entering the final 60 kilometers, by which point Cavagna had dropped Hoehn and forged on ahead.
As Cavagna extended his advantage and looked set to claim the stage win, Hoehn was losing momentum and with the peloton seemingly happy with the situation, Geschke made the most of an opportunity to attack with 23 kilometers to go.
Geschke was joined by Ben King (Team Dimension Data) and, together, they extended their advantage and caught and passed Hoehn at the 10 kilometers to go mark, at which point Cavagna had passed the flamme rouge on his way to take the stage win.
King managed to come around Geschke on the finish stretch, taking second place, while Geschke rolled across the line in third place and onto the podium.
Unfortunately, Will Barta was involved in a crash on the descent of Mt. Hamilton and sustained a fractured collarbone. An update on his condition is provided below.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“We tried to go in the early breakaway as it seemed like a good day for the breakaway. But, then everyone was surprised when it was only two guys who eventually went clear. I felt really good and actually, I was a bit surprised by my race today. Yesterday, I was suffering and, of course, I didn’t come here with the highest expectations after my two injuries this season. My legs today were better than yesterday. Cavagna was so far in front so the speed was not too high in the peloton, so I managed to get away inside the last 30 kilometers. I was still racing for third place at that stage and then, later on, we caught Hoehn. So, then I was riding for second place before eventually finishing in third place, which is still a really nice result for me. After the start to the season that I had, it’s a really nice feeling to be attacking and be up there in the final of a stage. My goal for the race was to go in a breakaway and take any opportunities, and I was able to do that today.”
Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“The stage played out a little bit different to how I imaged. We all thought the breakaway would be a bigger group, as it was at the beginning of the stage, and with riders far down on the General Classification that could contend for the stage. But, that first group was brought back because Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) was in it and he was close on GC. Even if the peloton had let the group stay in front longer, it still would have been brought back as there were a lot of guys who started the day less than two minutes’ back.”
“Once the two guys, who were both far down on GC, went clear there was no reason to bring them back so the GC teams were just riding tempo on the climbs and controlling on the descents. We had wanted to be in the breakaway so Simon Geschke’s attack was a last minute move towards the end of the stage when all of the GC riders were more or less neutralized. It was nice for Simon to see an opportunity there and get a top three result for us.”
Dr. Eric Heiden on Will Barta’s injury:
“Will Barta sustained a displaced, comminuted left collarbone fracture in a crash on the descent of Mt. Hamilton. He will require surgery in the coming days which will be performed in Salt Lake City. After Will’s surgery, we will be able to assess his recovery time but normally, he should be able to start on the rollers one-week post-surgery and be back racing in approximately six weeks.”
Amgen Tour of California
Stage 3: Stockton > Morgan Hill (207km)
Top 3: 1. Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 2. Ben King (Team Dimension Data), 3. Simon Geschke (CCC Team).
CCC Team top 3: 3. Simon Geschke, 16. Michael Schär, 53. Gijs Van Hoecke
📷 Cor Vos