The WorldTour boys showed everybody how they roll.
With crosswinds kicking up and making everybody nervous, the top teams put the hammer down and knocked several GC contenders from the domestic squads down the standings. Cruel but ever so Darwin.
With 55K to go in stage five to Avila Beach, RadioShack went full gas and left podium hopefuls Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) and Francisco Mancebo (5 Hour Energy) in deep trouble and ripped the leader jersey off the back of Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman).
After the stage, UnitedHealthcare team manager Mike Tamayo said in disgust “It broke apart after we told them to move the fuck up.” We feel his pain after so much hard work and high hopes.
Voigt took the stage win with another one of his trademark fearless and powerful moves with 5k to go and he also moved his GC captain Matthew Busche up into fourth overall. Legs forced to shut up again and really, do Jens’ six kids know that daddy may never retire?
Paying attention and profiting from the aggressive move was Tejay van Garderen (BMC) who moved into the overall lead with Friday’s time trial in San Jose coming up fast.
“It wasn’t BMC’s plan to split the bunch,” said van Garderen. “It seemed like a headwind all day, but then all of a sudden it changed, and you could feel it getting nervous in the bunch. You knew something was going to happen.”
What was supposed to be an easy day for leader Acevedo turned into a lesson in WorldTour tactics and firepower. BMC was ready, Jamis and Unitedhealthcare weren’t.
“It was a split second decision to go with it, and I was lucky to have two strong guys in Thor Hushovd and Michael Schar to help,” said van Garderen. “It definitely took a little effort, but (Michael) Rogers wasn’t skipping a pull, and I wasn’t skipping pulls, so it’s pretty even.”
After the stage, BMC team manager John Lelangue told Twisted Spoke he was happy with the outcome. “We knew it would be a side-wind there. We were ready to go — we already tried two days ago. Here it was early but we knew something could happen. Once it was launched, we had to maintain it.”
At that point the only question left was how to balance the BMC agenda and resources. “We had three riders up front, it was a good opportunity. We tried to keep Thor in a good position. Yeah, we couldn’t play the stage win and the GC so we had to make a choice,” said Lelangue. “From the beginning our choice was the GC. It’s good to take some time and start tomorrow with the yellow jersey. Rogers is still the big man there but after it’s Mount Diablo. It’s also good to take some time on the pure climbers.”
But mostly, it’s good to have Jens Voigt at the front of the race. He got himself another big win after his long solo victory in the US Pro Cycling Challenge and put Busche into contention. He also helped Tejay van Garderen slip on that yellow jersey. Nice guy, Jensie.