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ATOC Stage 5: Big "First" for Phinney

Take a bow, young lad
Take a bow, young lad
Doug Pensinger

[By "first" I apparently meant "second". First road win as a pro in ATOC? On May 15?]

BMC's Taylor Phinney soloed home in Santa Barbara after a long, daring attack to win his first second-ever road race at the pro level, taking stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California. Phinney stole away from the remains of the peloton as they crested San Marcos Pass high above Santa Barbara, 28km and 2300 vertical feet from the line next to the Pacific Ocean. Hammering at top speed on the wide highway that drops down to sea level, Phinney opened up gaps reported as high as 50 seconds, with only Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge taking up the chase, since most of the big-name sprinters (save for Peter Sagan and Matt Goss) had been dropped on the San Marcos climb. The course leveled out some with 18km to go, but Phinney showed his prowess as a cronoman and pure power rider, lengthening out his lead over two modest climbs and the flat sections that followed before the peloton crept closer in the final 4km. Ultimately he held a good 20 seconds at least, until he sat up to soak in the win and take a bow. Very classy.

Phinney has won races before, of course, but all mostly with the letters "TT" associated with them. Even his overall win at the Dubai Tour this spring was predicated largely on his time trial victory. All of that says "great athlete," but today says "great road cyclist" in the broader form, showing the instincts and the total commitment needed to win. None of that is much of a surprise, really; his seventh in Milano-Sanremo last year demonstrated how far he was willing and able to go in pursuit of road glory (answer: inhuman lengths). [And he won a stage of the Tour de Pologne in similar fashion last year.] Perhaps the biggest surprise was that he made it over the pass with the climbers, something he hasn't often done. The gradients were in the 5% range and the peloton wasn't exactly hammering, but it's a nice win for Phinney in that it expands what one might consider his range of winnable terrain beyond what we might previously have thought.

[As further penance for overlooking Phinney's Poland win from last year, here's the riveting video.]

Anyway, you get the picture. Hey, his first win with nobody else in the frame? His first formal bow, at the very least.

Stage Results:

  1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 3:59:33
  2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:12
  3. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
  4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
  5. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
  6. Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano
  7. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano
  8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
  9. Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
  10. Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura

GC: no great changes. Stage standings suggest Matt Busche lost some time but I think that might be a misprint.

  1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 17:53:36
  2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:28
  3. Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:09
  4. Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:25
  5. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:02:14
  6. Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:28
  7. Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:29
  8. Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:02:31
  9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:33
  10. Javier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Garmin Sharp 0:02:34