Jacques-Maynes, Louder jump into early Amgen break that nearly goes the distance

Americans punched the clock almost immediately in the opening stage of the Amgen Tour stage and nearly stayed away

SANTA ROSA, California (VN) — It took about 35 seconds after two neutral laps through Santa Rosa for the breakaway to take flight during stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California.

Eight riders jumped into the move, and the group quickly put five minutes on an aloof peloton over the flatter sections of the opening stage that was back-loaded with short but steep climbs.

The breakaway gave David Boily (Spidertech-C10) the race’s King of the Mountains jersey, as he took every rated climb on the day, and put Bissell’s Ben Jacques-Maynes into the most aggressive rider jersey on the podium Sunday night.

“It was pretty quick and easy how the break formed,” said Jacques-Maynes. “It was a manageable group. We were given the leash and we had good cooperation… I think everyone was pacing themselves quite well. We kept up a decent and steady pace for a couple hours, which was quite good.”

Other riders in the move included Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale), Jeff Louder (UnitedHealthcare), Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell), Josh Atkins (Bontrager-Livestrong) and Sebastian Salas (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies).
At one point, the breakaway had 11 minutes on the peloton, and there were flickers of hope it could stay away. By the end of the day’s final climb up Coleman Valley Road, the group was still more than five minutes off the front, but the Liquigas-Cannondale squad came to the front of the bunch, signaling the beginning of the end for the break.

For Jacques-Maynes, who has been in at least one breakaway in every running of the Amgen Tour, it’s a chance to represent the team in one of its largest races of the year. “We want to be the most aggressive team in the race,” he said. “It’s exactly what we were hoping for.”

The group’s advantage — along with its numbers — where hacked away in the final 15km and with 7km left, it was all over.

“The goal for Team UnitedHealthcare was to get in the breakaway today and my number came up as the lucky guy to make it,” said Jeff Louder. “When you’re out there, you look for the opportunities on the road and fortunately I was able to win the sprints. We had a pretty good lead coming into the final climb and I thought the three of us (Louder, Jacques-Maynes and Bouet) might be able to stick it to the end. We gave it our best but it wasn’t quite enough.”

It’s a familiar song and dance for the boys in the break — work hard all day to stay out, get reeled in with 5km to go — but it still doesn’t stop them, and it never will.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the breakaway doesn’t succeed,” Jacques-Maynes said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t try.”

The Santa Cruz-based Bissell captain will have another chance on Monday, when the race travels from San Francisco to his adopted hometown on the Pacific coast.