Team Sunweb wrapped up the Amgen Tour of California stage race with two strong performances in the final two stages, including a top-5 from Jai Hindley in a tough climbing stage, and a podium finish by Max Walscheid, who finished second in a photo finish at the end of the final stage in Sacramento.
The penultimate Stage 6 of the weeklong WorldTour race, which traveled south to north through the state of California, took riders from the city of Folsom to the high peaks of Lake Tahoe. The 196km race featured a decisive climb over Daggett Summit with 10km to go.
Hindley, a 22-year-old Australian racing his first year as a professional, showed his class by joining the elite climbers in the critical closing moments of the stage. He put in a huge effort to bridge up in the closing kilometers, then powered to a fifth-place finish on his TCR Advanced SL team bike.
“I tried to get in the early break but didn’t manage it, so I switched my focus to the final,” said Hindley, who wore the Giant Rev helmet to score the impressive finish. “The guys protected and positioned me well. On the second-to-last climb I was really suffering at the beginning but pulled through. I’m happy my shape is improving now.”
The following day’s final stage featured a mostly flat 143km race that finished with a circuit in the California state capitol, Sacramento. The closing stage was set up for a battle among the sprinters, and Team Sunweb’s six-man squad set out to give Walscheid, a 24-year-old German speedster racing his Propel Advanced SL Disc, a shot at the win.
“When entering the [finishing] laps, we wanted to be in a good position to get Max to the sprint as fresh as possible,” said Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek. “The guys did a good job and the lead-out was good.”
Wearing the Pursuit aero road helmet, Walscheid powered into the final finishing stretch in good position. The German also wore a prototype Giant shoe featuring Giant's Motion Efficiency System. He charged for the line alongside Colombian Fernando Gaviria, winner of two previous stages in California, and crossed the line nearly even with him. A photo finish revealed that Walscheid had finished second by centimeters.
“It was a hard fight for position on a super high-speed circuit with everything full gas in the last 15 kilometers,” Walscheid said. “I entered the last corner in good position. In the sprint I came from pretty far behind because QuickStep surprised the bunch with an enormous lead-out on the home straight. I managed to come back and just threw my bike a bit too late. Anyway, we are really happy to finish off a nice week with some really good spirits and results as well.”