Westra Takes Stage 1 of Tour of California 2013
The first of a total of eight stages of the 2013 Amgen Tour of California got off to an exciting and not least hot start today in Escondido, California as Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team’s Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands managed to hold off the charging peloton to capture the stage 1 victory and take the overall Tour of California lead.
Sunday’s stage included more than 11,000 feet of climbing, the most ever for an opening stage in the history of the Tour of California race. The 11,000 feet of climbing turned out to be combined with intensive heat, which made many riders suffer and led to four riders being eliminated from the race due to time cuts.
As expected, the climbs became the sites of dramatic shake-ups, including a decisive one in the last five kilometers of the stage, which saw Westra claim the stage victory, as well as the Visit California Sprint Jersey, when, aided by a tailwind in the final kilometers of the 165.12 kilometer stage, he embarked on a furious sprint to hold the lead.
However, second sprint points finisher Francisco Mancebo Perez of 5-Hour ENERGY presented by Kenda Racing Team will wear the Visit California Sprint Jersey for tomorrow’s stage that begins in Murrieta as Westra will start Monday’s stage wearing the yellow Amgen Race Leader Jersey.
“It was a good surprise,” Westra commented after being celebrated on the podium. “We won a stage, and we have a strong team. We will see.” It was the second race victory so far this season for Team Vacansoleil-DCM, which has failed to deliver in many races where they have had high hopes of obtaining successful results.
For the first time ever, this year’s Tour of California will run south to north, covering nearly 750 miles of California’s most scenic highways, roadways and coastlines over eight days, concluding in Santa Rosa, California on May 19.
With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), BISSELL Pro Cycling’s Carter Jones of Boulder, Colorado claimed the first Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey in a stage that will be the first of several in which climbs are expected to play a crucial role in shaping the final podium. Today, the riders had to battle not only each other, but the blazing temperatures, which will continue Monday as the race heads from Murrieta to Greater Palm Springs.
"The heat was brutal. Definitely the hardest part of the day. We haven’t done anything like this all year,” Jones commented afterwards.
At the post-stage press conference, the race’s chief medical officer, Ramin Modabber, M.D., related that the average team goes through 120 bottles of water on a stage like today. One director he pulled up next to on the course had gone through 40 bottles (5 per rider) in the first 50 kilometers.
Modabber explained that riders will consume on average approximately 8 liters of fluid during a stage like today. About half of that is water and the other half would typically include some type of energy/electrolyte solution – too much of either will not replace what is lost and can lead to dramatic reductions in performance.
Other measures taken by riders include ice bags or ice stuffed into socks which are placed down the back of a rider's jersey in order to lower core body temperature – similarly pouring cold water over one’s head/helmet and clothing can further lower core temperature. After the race, the riders will sit in cold baths, pools or showers to further reduce core body temperature when necessary to enhance recovery. The race organizers also take measures to protect the riders from excess heat by allowing them to 'feed' from their team vehicles much earlier in the race than typically allowed to account for the increased consumption of fluids.
Taking second and third stage finish spots on the podium were Spain’s Francisco Mancebo Perez of 5-Hour ENERGY presented by Kenda Racing Team and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Team Cannondale Pro Cycling, respectively.
In other classifications the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey was awarded to 5-Hour ENERGY presented by Kenda Racing Team’s James Stemper (Wauwatosa, Wisconsin) and the Crunchies Best Young Rider Jersey to Jasper Stuyven (Belgium) of the Bontrager Cycling Team (USA).
"In the last four years with this team, I’ve been making the transition to a road rider. I pride myself on being a great teammate right now. I know I can ride hard for the entire day," said Stemper.