Anna van der Breggen moved a step closer to winning the Women’s Tour of California for a second time, after her Boels-Dolmans team-mate Katie Hall won stage two atop Mount Baldy.
Katie Hall, the 2018 winner, crossed the line just ahead of stage one winner Van der Breggen, who extends her lead in the general classification, to 29 seconds over the American.
The current world champion attacked with Hall on the steep slopes of Mt. Baldy, overtaking Israeli national champion Omer Shapira who had attacked at the foot of the climb and looked to be on course for a surprise win.
But Hall and Dutch ace Van der Breggen were able to catch and surpass Shapira, and despite a brave response from Ashleigh Moolman (CCC-Liv), it was a Boels-Dolmans one-two that rolled into the ski village first.
Hall’s win continues a remarkable run, having won stage two of the race in each of the last three editions; and 12 months after last win in South Lake Tahoe.
Stage three features yet more climbing, but a lengthy descent into Pasadena should favour sprinters meaning that Van der Breggen is expected to win the race, repeating her 2017 success.
How it happened
The 74km stage began in Ontario and the riders only had 30km of flat terrain before they had to engage their climbing legs on the first ascent – the category one Glendora Mountain – a 15km slog topping out at just over 1,000m elevation.
Given how important the stage was to the general classification, no riders were allowed to form a breakaway, Valcar Cylance setting a fast early pace that saw the peloton reduce in size.
As they began the climb of Glendora, Olga Zabelinskaya (Cogeas-Mettler) hit the front of the peloton, sharing the work load with Trek-Segafredo.
Zabelinskaya broke clear 30km from the finish on stage one but was caught with five kilometres remaining. Her legs still evidently fresh, she continued to press hard that forced the peloton of between 30 and 40 riders into several groups. All the main favourites were present.
The leading bunch crested the summit together, and on the descent Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) and Lisa Klein (Canyon-Sram) combined to break free together.
Their efforts were in vain, however, and they were soon back in the peloton that saw more failed attacks.
On the approach to Mt. Baldy Village, WNT-Rotor’s Kathrin Hammes and Canyon-Sram’s Shapira made their move, and they quickly had a 25 second advantage.
An eager Rivera joined the pair up front as they rode through the village en-route to the bottom of the climb. As the gradient rose skywards at 8km remaining, Shapira dropped her companions who dropped back to the chase group.
Shapira had a 25-second advantage and she maintained her lead with four kilometres to go. Behind her, a strong chase group formed consisting of reigning champion Hall, Van der Breggen, Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Moolman and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-Sram).
Hall then went ahead of the group, bringing with her Van der Breggen and the team-mates moved well together, catching Shapira.
The duo looked in imperious condition as they worked their way towards the summit. Behind, however, Moolman threatened to spoil a Boels-Dolmans one-two, closing the gap and eventually making it a trio as they entered the final three hairpin bends.
With the finish line in sight, Hall and Van der Breggen were too strong for Moolman, and the team-mates rode clear of the South African. Van der Breggen allowed Hall to win the stage as she increased her GC lead.
The gap to Moolman was 33 seconds and many pre-race favourites finished more than a minute and two minutes adrift, underlying the dominance and brilliance of the Boels-Dolmans duo.
Women’s Tour of California stage two 2019: Ontario to Mt. Baldy (74km)
1. Katie Hall (USA) Boels-Dolmans in 2-36-39
2. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans, at same time
3. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) CCC-Liv, at 33 secs
4. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) WNT-Rotor, at 46 secs
5. Omer Shapira (Isr) Canyon-Sram, at 57 secs
6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram, at same time
7. Brodie Chapman (Aus) TIBCO-SVB, at 1-08
8. Emma Grant (GBr) Sho-Air Twenty20, at 1-15
9. Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally-UHC, at 1-19
10. Amber Neben (USA) Cogeas-Mettler, at 1-37
General classification after stage two:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels-Dolmans in 5-12-37
2. Katie Hall (USA) Boels-Dolmans, at 29 secs
3. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) CCC-Liv, at 1-06
4. Clara Koppenburg (Ger) WNT-Rotor, at 1-25
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-Sram, at 1-34
6. Brodie Chapman (Aus) TIBCO-SVB, at 1-47
7. Kristabel Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally-UHC, at 1-58
8. Omer Shapira (Canyon-Sram), at 2-12
9. Emma Grant (GBr) Sho-Air Twenty20, at 2-15
19. Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) CCC-Liv, at 2-30.