VENTURA, California (VN) — Anna van der Breggen won the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM with a blistering attack on the final hill with 5km remaining. Van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) bolted out of the diminished group of favorites and caught and passed breakaway rider Olga Zabelinskaya (Cogeas Mettler Look), before descending to the finish line along the Ventura waterfront.

“That was a really nice climb in the final part of the race, so it was good to try and to go and attack,” van der Breggen said. “The stage was fairly quite tough with some climbing in it but the really steep final climb was quite steep so we tried it and it worked out.”

Van der Breggen crossed the line with an 18 second advantage on the chasing group, which contained Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (CCC Team), Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), and American Emma White (Rally-UHC), among other riders.

The finish came after a windy 96.5km out-and-back route that included five categorized climbs. The field faced a headwind on the way out, and then battled tail and crosswinds on the way back to Ventura.

The field broke apart in the gusting crosswinds and climbs, and Zabelinskaya attacked near the summit of the final climb of the day. She quickly built a minute advantage on the peloton, and Boels-Dolmans had to mount a chase to bring her back.

“We sat up to wait for Chantal and Carol Anne, and they were champs and pulled Olga back,” said Katie Hall (Boels-Dolmans). Anna was able to attack on the final hill and stay away.”

Van der Breggen holds her lead heading into Friday’s queen stage of the race, which features a 78km stage that finishes atop Mt. Baldy Road.

Amgen Tour of California, Stage 1

  1. Anna van der Breggen, Boels-Dolmans, 2:36:17
  2. Elise Balsamo, Valcar Cyclance, at 0:18
  3. Arlenis Sierra, Astana
  4. Leah Kirchmann, Team Sunweb
  5. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
  6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Canyon-SRAM
  7. Emma White, Rally-UHC
  8. Elizabeth Deignan, Trek-Segafredo all at s.t.
  9. Brodie Chapman, Tibco-SVB, at 0:20
  10. Marta Cavalli, Valcar Cylance, at s.t.