Sylvain Georges (Ag2r) took a solo win on today’s mountainous stage 6 at the Amgen Tour of California after riding in the front for 184km, on a route that climbed over 19,000 feet in its 186km from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake.
“For me it’s the most beautiful victory [of my career],” he said. “I’ve never arrived solo for victory like this and it was incredibly special. It’s a beautiful race with all the big teams.”
Georges broke away with a small group at only 1.5km into the race, and was the lone survivor of the break, just barely holding off the chasing group on the line.
“The big leaders let a breakaway go. At the second KOM I tempted fate and was able to hold it to the end. I didn’t think that [they] knew who I was,” he added.
“I was never alone out there. I knew that I had my friends and family watching on TV. And my director was always encouraging me. Even if it was hard out there, I worked hard to stay concentrated. But I was never alone.”
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) adds a second place to his four wins this week, coming in second 28 seconds behind the Frenchman, with Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in third with the same time.
His Liquigas-Cannondale temmates worked hard to pull back the break so Sagan could have another shot at the stage, but fell just short.
“Really gutsy ride for him and hats off to him and the Ag2r team,” said Timmy Duggan of Liquigas. “There were more than a couple teams chasing hard to catch him and it didn’t happen.”
Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) kept the yellow jersey he earned in yesterday’s time trial, and there were no changes in the top three on GC: Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) both finished in the main pack to keep their second and third place GC standings, 34 and 39 seconds back respectively.
In the end, Zabriskie was happy with the way the race unfolded. “Lucky for us the break went fairly early so we could control it,” he said. “I don’t think anyone expected [Georges’ move] to hold. I just want to give him a hug!”
“I woke up not feeling so spry. Can you believe they made us wake up at 6am! Then you drive to the race. It’s hard. But maybe winning will make me a bit more spry.”
He knows he’ll be a marked man in tomorrow’s Queen stage that finishes on Mt Baldy, but he’s ready to defend. “I expect people to attack me. That’s pretty much the only way they’re going to win. I expect me to follow. I’ll try to retain this jersey, and my dream.”
Orica-GreenEdge’s Luke Durbridge held onto the white jersey of the best young rider and hopes he can keep it after tomorrow’s Queen stage up Mt Baldy.
“The climb was very very long, but not super steep. As a big guy I could limit my losses and hold onto the group,” he said. “It eventually got harder with the altitude. I went out to hold the jersey and I did that. Tomorrow will be harder. I’ll try to stay top ten in the overall and keep the young rider jersey as well.”
1 Sylvain GEORGES, Ag2r-La Mondiale in 5:07:04
2 Peter SAGAN, Liquigas-Cannondale +28
3 Peter VELITS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4 Thomas DAMUSEAU, Argos-Shimano
5 Tom DUMOULIN, Argos-Shimano
1 David ZABRISKIE, Garmin-Barracuda in 25:37:04
2 Tejay VAN GARDEREN, BMC +34
3 Robert GESINK, Rabobank +39
4 Peter VELITS, Omega Pharma-Quick Step +45
5 Andrew TALANSKY, Garmin-Barracuda +48
Keep watching VeloNews for more complete report and full results.