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Monday, May 23, 2016

SRAM Athletes rise to the challenge at Amgen Tour of California

American Megan Guarnier, guided by her powerhouse Boels Dolmans Cycling Team, led the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM from start to finish.

Guarnier’s victory is historic since the women’s Amgen Tour of California was the first U.S. event on the new UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar. The win also was hard fought with the biggest challenge coming from two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong of TWENTY16 – Ridebiker. Megan also won the overall Points Classification. 

Other highlights of the women’s race: 

-       Boels Dolmans’ Evelyn Stevens finished third, giving SRAM-supported athletes a sweep of the podium.

-       TWENTY16 – Ridebiker won the team title for the second straight year.

-       Three-time reigning world champ Chloe Dygert, 19, of TWENTY16 captured the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey.

Guarnier was relaxed and happy after the race as she looked back on an action-packed four days covering 197.8 miles that started with a Stage 1 dose of high elevation around Lake Tahoe and then challenged riders with narrow roads in wine country and a fast furious sprint in Sacramento. One unexpected highlight came during the Folsom team time trial when her team’s soigneur – the team caretaker in pro cycling who ranks as pro cycling’s greatest unsung hero – was interviewed over the loudspeaker right as the Boels Dolmans team was in that tense moment before their start. For Guarnier, it broke the tension.

My most memorable moment was the win on Stage 1, but the second most memorable moment was when our soigneur was on the loud speaker right before our team time trial, Guarnier said. “He just said ‘I wanted to wish my riders good luck today.’ It’s sweet!”

TWENTY16 lived out its mission to prepare and develop women racers for top competition. The team placed three riders in the top 10 final general classification, with Armstrong in second, Leah Thomas in fifth, and Dygert in sixth (and with that she won the SRAM Best Young Rider jersey.

Already bound for the Rio Games, Dygert said racing alongside Armstrong, one of the most accomplished riders in U.S. history, was an incredible learning experience.

Everything she has to say, it helps me so much,” Dygert said. “When we’re racing or something, just any quick advice that she has for me, it makes me a better rider. On and off the bike, it’s a great relationship. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. She’s a great friend as well.”

Highlights from the men’s race included a thrilling Stage 7 sprint finish in Santa Rosa where Alexander Kristoff of TEAM KATUSHA narrowly beat World Champion Peter Sagan.

Axeon Hagens Berman’s Neilson Powless won the SRAM Best Young Rider jersey, finishing ninth overall. He entered the final day in fifth but suffered a crash on Sunday.  

Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman won the Best Climber Jersey thanks to his aggressive riding and breakaways. 

Congrats to all of our riders in California.

Main photo, photos #1 and #3: ©Wil Matthews/ Photo #2: ©Tim de Waele

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