Olympic road champ Anna van der Breggen narrowed the gap to the yellow jersey on the third stage of Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered by SRAM on Saturday. The Dutchwoman picked up two bonus seconds on the only intermediate sprint. Van der Breggen will head into the final stage in Sacramento one second behind stage two winner Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare). American road champion Megan Guarnier is third overall at 29 seconds.
“I’m not a sprinter, so I didn’t love this stage,” said Van der Breggen. “The team worked hard to set me up for the sprints. I’m happy I could take back two seconds.”
The Amgen Women’s Race can be viewed as a race of two halves. The first two stages in South Lake Tahoe give the climbers a chance to shine while the second two stages in and around Sacramento are the fast, flat terrain beloved by the sprinters. Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team lined up for stage three aiming to take back the yellow jersey worn by Guarnier following stage one.
“It wasn’t as windy as we hoped,” said Van der Breggen. “In the most windy sections before the intermediate sprint, we worked with Sunweb and we split the peloton, but both times Katie and her teammates made the split, and the group was too big. We decided to save our energy for the seconds.”
All early attacks had been neutralised on the run-in to the intermediate sprint at kilometre 88 of the 117-kilometre day. Van der Breggen had a full train devoted to her service as speeds in the peloton lifted.
“The echelons didn’t work out, so we decided to do a one-kilometre lead-out for Anna to keep her as safe as possible,” said Luxembourgish champion Christine Majerus. “It worked out fairly well.”
Arlenis Sierra (Astana) won the intermediate sprint and took three bonus seconds. Van der Breggen edged out Dani King (Cylance) for second, picking up two seconds towards the general classification.
A lone attacker slipped away from the peloton shortly after the intermediate sprint. Mandy Heintz (Visit Dallas DNA) gained a maximum advantage of 40-seconds. The peloton swept her up four kilometre from the finish line in Sacramento.
“The finish was dangerous,” said Majerus. “There were a lot of crashes, and that shuffled us back a lot.”
“We wanted to put Anna on Kirsten Wild’s wheel,” noted Guarnier. “But Wild had a mechanical issue, so the lead-out was left to us.”
Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) won the bunch kick ahead of Sierra and and Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle High5). Van der Breggen managed 12th place – well outside the bonus seconds.
“We’ll do it all over again tomorrow,” said Van der Breggen. “The goal, of course, is the yellow jersey, and we have two seconds to take back to make that happen.”