The only thing falling harder than rain on the roads of Napa and Sonoma Counties Monday afternoon were the bodies of riders as they crashed on the technical descents of the Oakville and Trinity Grades. The technical stage 2 route of the Amgen Tour of California claimed more than 30 victims on the day, including Andrew Pinfold (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis), who abandoned after his second touch down in two stages.
Pinfold, a top sprinter in the U.S. peloton, went down hard on a left corner during the descent from the Oakville Grade KOM. He lay in the road on his back, knees bent, for 15 minutes before being transferred to Santa Rosa via ambulance. Pinfold was resting at the team hotel Monday evening.
“I have road rash on top of my road rash,” he said. “It’s like running a wire brush across your road rash. I’m in good spirits, all things considered.”
Team director Gord Fraser confirmed that it did not appear that Pinfold had suffered a skeletal injury, but that the two crashes took enough out of him that he could not continue on.
Pinfold was not the only UHC rider to hit the deck; Chris Baldwin, Matt Crane and Max Jenkins also went down. Baldwin was in the second chase group on the Trinity Grade descent when seven of ten riders in the group crashed.
Bissell had five riders on the ground, including Andy and Ben Jacques-Maynes, who each crashed twice. Rob Britton, Peter Latham and Cody O’Reilly also required attention from the team doctor after the stage.
“They all went down on that Trinity Grade descent, so yeah, not a very good day for us,” said Bissell team manager Glen Mitchell as his riders cleaned up on the team bus at the finish. “They finished the stage, which is good, so we just have to assess what the damage was a and go from there.”
The descents of the stage’s final two climbs wound through the hills east of Santa Rosa. The road surfaces were uneven, with mismatched patches of pavement, and water pooled in pock marks as rains intensified in the afternoon. Long straightaways led into tight hairpin corners.
A few turns above the Pinfold crash on the Oakville descent, green jersey wearer J.J. Haedo (Saxo Bank) went down hard with two Bissell riders. At least one of the Bissells went off the road and down into a ravine. That rider was most likely one of the Jacques-Maynes, who both crashed twice and both went off the road twice.
While the brothers were in treatment well into the night at the team hotel, Haedo came to the finish with relatively little damage. “Yeah, I’m okay,” he said. “I’m just a little sore.”
According to team management, each of the Bissell riders who crashed will be at the start tomorrow in San Francisco.
Crashed riders littered the final 25 miles of the course Sunday. On many occasions, neutral support and team cars were so spread out and overwhelmed that downed riders waited by the road for upwards of five minutes before receiving mechanical support.
ProTour teams didn’t escape the spills. Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) and Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas) were among their teammates missing skin at the finish.
Riders including Crane, Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) and Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) lost nearly 20 minutes on the stage, but should be at the start Tuesday.
At the finish, Mitchell chalked the tough day up to the weather. “We know the roads. We know all the corners. We’ve been here, we’ve held training camps here,” he said. “With weather like this, sometimes you just can’t avoid it and that’s probably what happened today.”