Etixx-Quick Step's Julian Alaphilippe countered a strong move by Trek's Peter Stetina on the Gibraltar Road climb to win the Queen Stage of the Amgen Tour of California and take the overall lead. Stetina himself had joined Lachlan Morton in reeling in 19-year-old Nielsen Powless on the climb, then dropped Morton and seemed headed for glory. But the French climber saved his best punches for last, thundering up the steep pitch to latch on to the American, then drop him decisively inside the final kilometer. For Alaphilippe, it's sweet payback (versus fate) after last year's race left the climbers wanting, and left him second overall after Peter Sagan's tense final-stage comeback that lifted the leader's jersey off Alaphilippe's shoulders. This time, he put plenty of time into his rivals to allow him to potentially survive all the way to the finish. There will be much work to do, starting with a long and difficult (if incredibly beautiful) coastal run on tap for tomorrow. But he and his team have to like their chances now. Results:
- ALAPHILIPPE Julian EQS
- STETINA Peter TFS 15"
- BENNETT George TLJ 25"
- BOOKWALTER Brent BMC 27"
- POWLESS Neilson AHB 30"
- TEN DAM Laurens TGA 31"
- SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel BMC 40"
Thousand Oaks - Gibraltar Road 167.5 km
Who the hell puts the queen stage on stage 3 of an 8 stage race? Tour of California it seems. Let's see if sets up a great few days of racing or if it makes for a big anticlimax. Either way today's stage should be a corker.
Classic ATOC winner of the day: Samuel Sanchez
He's having the oddest results this year so why not. And I can't really figure which of the favorites could actually take this.