Columbian climbing sensation Egan Bernal wins Gibraltar Road Mountain Top Finish
Yesterday's route that featured 7,700 feet of climbing after a beautiful oceanfront start in Ventura, which climaxed on the Bucket List Californian climb of Gibraltar Road
Team Sky set a challenging pace up the steep grade of Gibraltar Road, setting up their 21-year-old Columbian rider Egan Bernal for an attack with just over 2k to go. Bernal swiftly climbed away to a solo victory to shore up the race lead as well as nearly all of the category wins on today's epic stage.
Yesterday the Tour of California went from a totally flat opener to a dramatic mountain stage, and this stark contrast would leave its mark. Starting the day at sea level, the race would leave the Pacific Ocean behind them, climbing 7,700 feet in total over the day, before a summit finish on Gibraltar Road, 157km later.
The race would cross four third-category climbs before the final climb, each one of these ranging from short but steep, to longer but gentler climbs to sap the riders’ energy reserves. Just a short distance after the penultimate climb, with the efforts of the previous 8.1% climb of Valley Road still in their legs, it was the ascent to the summit finish – a 12km HC climb with an average gradient of 8% and a maximum gradient of 14% - that would be the day’s decider.
The peloton was once again treated to some beautiful Californian weather, and in spite of the difficult day awaiting them, a three-man breakaway took the chance to make their escape. With the group’s advantage hitting more than five minutes, it was clear that this escape was determined and could steal the stage win from the GC favourites, spurring on the peloton to chase.
Team Sky's Ian Stannard buried himself on the front of the chasing group, swiftly bringing the gap down and making the catch at the foot of the final climb. As the GC teams like BMC Racing put the pressure on, the peloton began to string out and the effort was beginning to show, but as the kilometres ticked by and the bunch hit the harder sections of the climb, Bora's Rafal majka was still up there as other riders dropped off, looking comfortable and ready to react.
In the final selection in the final kilometers the reduced peloton contained the favorites including; Tejay Van Garderen, Rafal Majka, Adam Yates, Antwan Tolhoek, Krisjian Durasek, Ian Boswell, Peter Stetina and Brent Bookwalter.
With 2 kms to go Teo Geoghegan Hart pulled over, signalling Team Sky's Columbian climber Egan Bernal to attack.
When the attacks came, Polish rider Majka didn’t panic, and although he didn’t have the legs to go for the stage win, he kept a cool head and beat the other contenders to the line for second position, taking all-important seconds in the GC race.
Behind Yates, Tolhoek and Martinez cross the line with all the other favorites coming in just behind.
Favorite Rafal Majka said afterwards "After nearly a month out of racing, I'm happy with my result today. It was a hard climb but I managed to keep my pace and finish second. We have five more stages to go and, together with the rest of the squad, I will do my best to aim at the GC."
Stage 3 is a long 123 miles from King City to Laguna Seca raceway and features five significant climbsahead of Wednesday's 21.6 mile time trial in San Jose
VIDEO: 2018 Tour of Califoirnia Stage Highlights
2018 Tour of California Stage 2 Top 10
1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 4:14:00
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:21
3 Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:25
4 Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:30
5 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team Emirates
7 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:40
8 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:50
9 Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:59
10 Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:01
2018 Tour of California GC after Stage 2 Top 20
1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 7:16:13
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:25
3 Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:31
4 Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40
5 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team Emirates
6 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
7 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:50
8 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:01:00
9 Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:09
10 Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:11
11 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:01:14
12 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) Team Sky 0:01:20
13 Brandon McNulty (USA) Rally Cycling 0:01:25
14 Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:07
15 Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:21
16 William Barta (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon 0:02:28
17 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:35
18 Robert Britton (Can) Rally Cycling
19 Sean Bennett (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon 0:02:53
20 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 0:02:55