At about 25 minutes into the start the Santa Rosa Stage 1 start of the Amgen Tour of California, eight riders rode away from the main group. Ben Jacques-Maynes was joined by his Bissell team mate Andrew Dahlheim, Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondaile), Jeff Louder (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis), David Boily (Team Spidertech p/b C10), Sebastian Salas (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Josh Atkins ( Bontrager Livestrong Team), and Sam Johnson (Team Exergy)
“I was surprised that the break stuck,” stated Jacques-Maynes. “I thought that there would be more action. I went to cover and I keep on looking back. One small group came up and my team mate Andrew (Dahlheim). I thought eight riders was going to be too much. I know it’s a long day and it’s early but that is sometimes how the race works.”
“These teams wanted to work as little as possible,” continued Jacques-Maynes. “They wanted to save it for later. They are pros. Once we got over Coleman Valley pretty much half the break was sitting on. I know the guys were getting tired. The guys going for the KOM were sprinting up every hill. Their legs were tapped out but we still had a gap and I still wanted to bike race. I know every inch of the course. I knew there was a decent climb into Occidental and I just kept the pressure on. I rode no harder than in the first and second hour with eight guys cooperating. It really did not feel out of sorts. I felt well prepared and ready to ride to the line if we had to.”
With ten minutes to go Jacques-Maynes, Louder and Bouet were caught by the Rabobank and Liquigas-Cannondale driven peloton.
“Once we got caught I was just praying to stay in the main group.”
Last year, Bissell Pro Cycling team were extremely hard-hitting, sending riders in breaks at every stage. Unfortunately the team was never rewarded with a Most Aggressive Jersey.
“I felt vindicated when I heard I won the jersey,” shared Jacques-Maynes. “I always want to come out here and race aggressively. It’s our team goal. We always want to be the most aggressive team in the race. To have that recognized on Day One, the race is already a success. We have stages 2 through 8 coming right up. We have more opportunities and plenty of strong guys. Hopefully I have set a good example for them.”
Stage 2 takes the race to Jacques-Maynes’ backyard. He lives minutes from the finish at Cabrillo College in Aptos.
“I am really looking forward to racing in front of my family and friends. The Jacques Maniacs will be in full force and I am going to have a lot of fun.”