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Meyer: Tour of California still a ‘great race,’ despite the heat

The Australian is 1:40 behind the race leader and said his GC hopes are "not too bad"

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (VN) — After the blur of stage 3 blew through Santa Clarita, Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) stood in the road, relaxed and comfortable, a far cry from the high temperatures of the previous day in Palm Springs at the Amgen Tour of California.

“That was a really difficult day. The whole day was spent fast paced, twisty roads, crosswinds,” he said of Tuesday’s stage 3, from Palmdale to Santa Clarita. “There was a major split at the start of the race. Definitely was not an easy day, and it was still quite warm out there.”

The stage saw no major general classification shifts among the favorites, and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) ultimately ruled the day. The peloton found itself recovering from the hot stage 2, which ended in a searing climb above Palm Springs that left multiple riders needing treatment for heat-related issues.

“Yesterday was probably a bit dangerous, a bit extreme,” Meyer told VeloNews. “I don’t know what you could have done about it. But uh, yeah, now we’re getting a little bit more accustomed, so today was a lot more manageable. Hopefully the temperature calms down a little bit now.”

The two-time Australian national time trial champion said the peloton knows there’s not much organizers can do, and also said it doesn’t dampen the riders’ opinions of racing stateside.

“I think any bike race — you can turn up to Tour Down Under at the start of the year — great bike race, I love it, but you can turn up to some filthy conditions there. You can go anywhere, Milan-San Remo. Everyone loves Milan-San Remo, and there’s snow this year,” he said. “So I think it’s still a great race, you get great crowds, it’s still a great atmosphere. Unfortunately, we just got hit with a little bit of a heat wave this year. But we’ve dealt with it, and we can hopefully enjoy some better conditions.”

Those better conditions may be favorable to the 25-year-old’s general classification hopes. Currently he sits in 10th place, 1:40 out of the golden jersey held by Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman).

Meyer’s results sheet would hint that he’s on the cusp of road success with his capable Orica squad. He took sixth at this year’s Tour of Turkey, and won his national criterium championship. He’s a six-time world champion on the track, with gold medals in the points race (3), Madison (2), and the team pursuit (1) from 2009-2012.

Meyer also won the 2011 Santos Tour Down Under.

Meyer boasts a very strong time trial, and his climbing isn’t a true weakness, either. He won the mountains classification at last month’s Circuit de la Sarthe, and after the brutal stage into Palm Springs here in California he didn’t loose too much time on most of the contenders. Meyer will look to claw back some seconds in Friday’s individual time trial in San Jose.

Regarding his GC hopes, Meyer said they’re “not too bad.”

“I would have liked to be a little bit closer yesterday, but I’m at a point where if I have a really good time trial I can take back a lot of time on most of those guys,” he said. “I think [Tejay van Garderen is] probably in the box seat, and he’s probably a bit far away from Mick Rogers and I, but there’s a few guys in front that I’d like to move up. And hopefully, my time trial will be good on stage 6.”

The Tour of California continues Wednesday, as it rolls from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara.