Hall crossed the finish line just ahead of teammate and race leader Anna van der Breggen, who bridged to the American in the waning kilometers of the stage. Van der Breggen, the Olympic champion, drifted back as the two crossed the finish, allowing Hall to cross the line first.
“We worked really well together to the finish. I set some pace and added to [van der Breggen]’s GC lead and she gave me the stage win,” Hall told VeloNews. “It was a really good day for us.”
Hall’s victory came after a tactical day of climbing on the 74km course, which began in downtown Ontario and finished atop the Mt. Baldy climb. Van der Breggen came into the day nursing a 16-second advantage from her stage victory 1 victory into Ventura.
Uzbek rider Olga Zabelinskaya set a punishing pace on the first ramp, which shed riders out of the group. Multiple riders then took turns attacking along the course, including American Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) and Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), who were later joined by Trixi Worrack (Trek-Segafredo).
Rivera pedaled on ahead as the group approached the final climb to Mt. Baldy Road, and she was joined by Kathrin Hammes (WNT-Rotor) and Omer Shapira (Canyon-SRAM). But behind, the peloton began to shatter under pressure from the climbers.
The main group contained Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Hall, Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Moolman-Pasio, and others. That’s when Hall made her move.
“My director Danny said for me to make some pace, and with 4km to go I set a hard pace and rolled off the front,” Hall said.
Hall’s victory marks her first win as part of the Boels-Dolmans squad, which she joined in the offseason. Last year Hall rode for the American UnitedHealthcare team and won the Amgen Tour of California, Colorado Classic, Tour of the Gila, and Redlands Bicycle Classic.
UHC disbanded in the offseason, and Hall moved to Spain to try her hand in the European races.
Hall has participated in races in Spain as well as the hilly Ardennes one-day classics. She said she is still adapting to the nuances of European events, and the constant battle for positioning on the narrow European roads. Racing on short, punchy climbs in Europe is different effort than on the long, grinding climbs in American races.
“It’s easier for me to win a bike race in America than it is in Europe,” Hall said. “Every time I race I find my position in the bunch a bit better.”
The frantic battle in the rain at Liège–Bastogne–Liège posed one such challenge. Hall came into the race working for van der Breggen, who was the defending champion. Rain and cold temperatures battered the peloton, and the women accelerated over the short, punchy climbs that dot the final 50km of the race.
“I feel like I have a nightmare of fighting for the left-hand turn of going into La Redoute at Liège. It was a critical climb and everyone was going super fast and wanting to be first.”
Of course it’s experiences like those that will only teach Hall the ebb and flow of the races. She said she hopes to stay with Boels-Dolmans for the foreseeable future.
Hall and van der Breggen now sit 1-2 in the general classification ahead of Saturday’s final stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena.
Amgen Tour of California stage 2
- Katie Hall, Boels-Dolmans, 2:36:39
- Anna van der Breggen, Boels-Dolmans, at s.t.
- Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, CCC-Liv, at 0:33
- Clara Koppenburg, WNT-Rotor, at 0:46
- Omer Shapira, Canyon-SRAM, at 0:57
- Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Canyon-SRAM, at s.t.
- Brodie Chapman, Team Tibco-SVB, at 1:08
- Emma Grant, Sho-Air Twenty20, at 1:15
- Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, Rally-UHC, at 1:19
- Amber Neben, Cogeas-Mettler, at 1:37
GC Standings after stage 2
- Van der Breggen, 5:12:37
- Hall, at 0:29
- Moolman-Pasio, at 1:06
- Koppenburg, at 1:25
- Niewiadoma, at 1:34
- Chapman, at 1:47
- Doebel-Hickok, at 1:58
- Shapira, at 2:12
- Grant, at 2:15
- Pauliena Rooijakkers, CCC-Liv, at 2:30