The last hour of stage two in the Amgen Tour of California could have been called the EF Education First Show.
As the road headed up into the Sierra mountains from Rancho Cordova to the Heavenly ski resort about South Lake Tahoe, the boys in pink seemed like that were always at the front of the race.
This is called a teaching moment.
First, they massed up front 80 kilometers from the finish to bring back the the breakaway group containing Luke Rowe (Team Ineos), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Evan Huffman (Rally UHC Cycling), Davide Ballerini (Astana Pro Team), Pawel Bernas (CCC Team), Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Michael Hernandez (USA National Team) and Edward Anderson (Hagens Berman Axeon).
That task accomplished and the mountain air getting thinner and the elevation reaching toward 8000 feet, they launched Lachlan Morton off the front. He made good headway and gobbled up the top points at the Kirkwood KOM with 59km to ride. Power to the pink.
Then on the descent of Luther Pass, things began to explode, with riders dumped out the back and small groups strung out all along the route. A group of ten began to dictate the action and once again, EF Education had two riders in strong positions — Lawson Craddock (third in the TOC back in 2013) and Tejay van Garderen (second in last year’s edition).
As the race wound down to the last two kilometers and the final ramp to Heavenly, it was Van Garderen who made the select group of four riders along with Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Gianni Moscon (Team Ineos) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates).
More than a few observers had Mocon pegged as the man with the fastest acceleration and so Van Garderen maneuvered the Italian to the front. However it was Asgreen, a surprise second place in this year’s Tour of Flanders, who burst across the line first. Young man ain’t no fluke.
The consolation prize for Van Garderen and EF Education is fairly large. He takes over the leader’s jersey of the Amgen Tour of California. Not a bad days work for the Men in Pink.