Bradley Wiggins Retains Yellow at Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo State Park — May 13, 2014–Amgen Tour of California Stage 3

Monday’s second-place finisher, Australian Rohan Dennis, gained 20 seconds on Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins yesterday to capture the Queen Stage win on the third day of the Tour of California.

Wiggins still holds the Yellow leader’s jersey for best overall time in the eight-day race, though the Garmin-Sharp competitor is closing in.

“The boys did a good job in this heat. I was alone about the last 8 kilometers [of Mount Diablo] I think,” said the Brit referring to support from his Sky teammates, who had to drop after pursuing a break. “Every day is a tough day when you’re in yellow,” said Wiggins.

The 108.5-mile Stage 3 was to be the toughest of the race week and included two categorized climbs, including the 3,848-profile stage 3 ATOCfoot ascent up Mount Diablo.

The final two miles were punctuated with attacks on Wiggins, first by last year’s KOM champion Carter Jones (Boulder, profile stage 3 ATOC copyColo.) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, and then by Janier Acevedo (COL) of Team Garmin-Sharp, who profile stage 3 ATOCplaced second on last year’s Mount Diablo summit finish.

Though both were quickly reigned in, the stage was set for the final attack by Dennis, who pounced from just behind Wiggins’ wheel during the final half-mile, where the grade turned to 17 percent near the finish. Wiggins ended the stage in 9th place to retain the Amgen Race Leader Jersey and a lead of 24 seconds.

The day started with a breakaway of eight riders that formed at about mile three and held off the peloton, at times with gaps of nearly seven minutes, for more than 90 miles. Their advantage began to close with 30 miles left to ride as Team Sky took control of the peloton’s pace.

As the ascent up Diablo started, the leaders began to drop riders like flies. Protected by his team at the beginning of the 10.8-mile climb up Mount Diablo, Wiggins was soon at the head of the pack, setting a fast pace for the duration that no one in the peloton could contest for most of the way to the summit.

Wiggins was isolated with all the major contenders for the last five miles after his Team Sky teammates had reeled in a long breakaway, and had to drop back from exhaustion. With the 6 percent average grade slope, the peloton had thinned to about 25 riders, and their numbers continued to winnow as the leaders came to the top.

With less than five miles to go three remained out in front, swapping attacks, including Robbie Squire (USA) of Team Jamis-Hagins Berman p/b Sutter Home and the Mexican National Champion Luis Davila of Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b MAXXIS.

Other podium finishers today included Team NetApp-Endura’s Tiago Machado (POR) in second place and last year’s best young rider Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas) of Team Giant-Shimano in third place to tighten his hold on the Crunchies Best Young Rider jersey.

Earlier in the stage, the riders gained nearly 4,000 feet in elevation from the start line in east San Jose to the top of Mount Hamilton just over 20 miles into the race.

Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Will Routley (CAN) shored up another day in the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain Jersey early on, riding with the breakaway to become the first over Mount Hamilton. The Visit California Sprint Leader Jersey remains with Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team’s Mark Cavendish who captured the jersey while earning the victory in Sunday’s first stage.

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