Boels-Dolmans continue their strong start to the season with victory at the Tour of California
The team have dominated the spring; Lizzie Armitstead winning three of the six one-day races that opened the Women’s WorldTour, and Chantal Blaak two more. Guarnier herself was on the podium for two of those races.
While they did not compete at the Tour of Chongming Island, the first stage race of the WorldTour in China earlier this month, their American victory proves they are able to translate one-day dominance into stage race success.
Guarnier’s success was built on her stage one victory, where the team was able to play cards with UCI Hour Record holder Evelyn Stevens attacking in the final corner and Guarnier eventually sprinting to victory, four seconds clear of the field.
Stage one was notable for the performance of Dame Sarah Storey, who attacked just 21 kilometres into the 117 km race around the windy shores of Lake Tahoe, high up in the Californian mountains. The British Paralympic star, riding for her Podium Ambition Club La Santa team, was allowed to build an advantage of over four minutes before Boels-Dolmans worked to bring her back.
Kristin Armstrong’s Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air team beat Boels-Dolmans into second place in the second stage, moving the current Olympic and twice world time trial champion into second place overall. Armstrong was, however, unable to consolidate her position on stage three, Guarnier finishing fourth to maintain her advantage over all.
That stage was won by multiple world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv). It was the Dutch woman’s first WorldTour win following her return to competition after a year away from the top level with injury, and the victory’s significance accentuated by her inclusion in a strong Dutch Olympic road race team last week.
Vos followed that success with third place in the stage four criterium in Sacramento, which was won by compatriot Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) ahead of Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-SRAM). Guarnier began that final stage just 15 seconds ahead of Armstrong who was unable to overturn the advantage.
The last two years have been a break out for Guarnier. The 31-year-old won Strade Bianche in 2015 and wore the pink jersey for five days in last year’s Giro d’Italia Femminile, where she finished third on general classification.
Four victories and a multitude of podium finishes have placed the American at the top of the Women’s WorldTour, taking top spot from world champion and teammate Lizzie Armitstead.
“It’s been a really good spring for Boels-Dolmans,” Guarnier said in a statement on the team website. “We’ve been on the top step at all the big races. It’s been nice for me to be on the podium regularly as well.
“When my teammates have won, I’ve also been scoring points unintentionally as I’ve done my job for them. Moving into the WorldTour leader’s jersey was unexpected. Three of us from Boels-Dolmans have now worn the jersey. That says a lot about this team.”
The next WorldTour race of the year is the one day Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, followed by the Aviva Women’s Tour which begins in Southwold, Suffolk ten days later.
Riders to watch
Amgen Breakaway From Heart Disease Tour of California Women’s Race
General Classification – Result
1. Megan Guarnier (USA) Boels-Dolmans 8:00.31
2. Kristin Armstrong (USA) Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air at 17s
3. Evelyn Stevens (USA) Boels-Dolmans at 28s
4. Marianne Vos (Ned) Rabio-Liv at 42s
5. Leah Thomas (USA) Twenty19 p/b Sho-Air at 56s
6. Chloe Dygert (USA) Twenty19 p/b Sho-Air at 59s
7. Katie Hall (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 1-01
8. Emma Johansson (Swe) Wiggle-High5 at 1-02
9. Coryn Rivera (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 1-07
10. Lauren Stevens (USA) Team TIBCO-SVB at 1-25