When the Amgen Tour of California went down the coast from San Francisco on Highway 1 in 2009, the riders faced nasty weather, from rain to sideways hail to wind but not this year. Weather forecast are calling for a sunny day with highs of 72, perfect for stage 2 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz County.
Or as Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) called it “My ride home.”
After all, Jacques-Maynes does live close to the finish and knows these roads inside out.
The stage starts at Marina Green in San Francisco’s Marina District, passes through the Presidio and continues south on HIghway 1 through Pacifica and Daly City. Making its way down the Devil’s Slide, north of Half Moon Bay, the peloton will enjoy the most spectacular coastline in the world. The stage will then turn inward and start the assault up Bonny Doon, which, in previous editions of the race, has determined the winner of the stage. With the stage finish moving to Aptos this year, the riders face another 42 miles of racing and another KOM. The last several miles of the stage are downhill, followed by a short run down Soquel Avenue to the finish
“The easiest start of any day. ” commented Jacques-Maynes. “Actually you may see attacking through to Half Moon Bay to try to make that breakaway happen. We’ve seen it go earlier than that, we’ve seen it take forever to go. This will be the earliest in the race that you hit Bonny Doon and the bottom of Bonny Doon is still a huge distance to the finish with multiple climbs. It’s going to be an intermediate steady tempo climb. If the hitters go there, there’s so much time to ride them back, it’s kind of a waste of effort. Even on Bear Creek, the top of Bear Creek, there’s a lot of flat and rolling terrain over the crest, it’s not a straight descent into town as we’ve done in the past. People can make a mistake, start riding hard up the climb, a concerted chase by Liquigas or any of these other sprint teams is going to get them back. You’ve seen that historically here as well, with the climbs over Sierra Road, over Bonny Doon, with any kind of run into town, Levi and friends have had minutes in hand and have had seconds at the line, they get ridden down. It doesn’t matter how strong you climb, you have to make it to the finish line.”
His prediction is a diminished field sprint facing a tricky approach to the finish. where local knowledge may help.
The severity of the course is once again the major difficulty of the day. “People are used to climbing Bonny Doon which is a 20-minute climb but then we do an extra 5 kilometer of climbing after that. So it turns more into a half hour climb and that’s a real barrier for people.” he explained.
“People can have their plan about the race, making it fast or slow. This is the hardest overall course that we’ve had, I think that people will be thinking about later in the week to really throw down. As far as sprint stages go, these are really the only opportunity, and so teams may be all in for sprints and you’ll see eight guys grouped around a sprinter in the third group on the road and once they’re over the top, they just turn the screws and rally him back to the front, all or nothing on that.”
Given the weather forecast, Jacques-Maynes expects a tailwind as they make their way down the coast. “We’re going to be getting down to Bonny Doon pretty quick, sunny day, typical good weather, light breeze at our backs, it will be hot up in San Lorenzo valley. The climb up Bear Creek will have a headwind on it and then, the descent down Soquel/San Jose will have a headwind on it which once again slow down the fast parts of the race.”
Oh and that horrible day back in 2009? Levi Leipheimer (then with Astana) attacked on Bonny Doon to catch all but one of the riders in the early break to finish second on the stage to Tom Peterson (then with Garmin-Slipstream) and take over the GC lead. Meanwhile, Jacques-Maynes suffered in the 10-rider break and was awarded the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Jersey.
The race returned to Santa Cruz in 2010 where once again, Bonny Doon was the launching point for attacks. David Zabriskie (then with Garmin-Transitions) took the stage win and squeezed into the leader’s jersey.
Stage 2 (Santa Francisco to Santa Cruz County) details:
- Length: 117.1 miles (188.5 km)
- Start time: 11:05 am PDT
- Finish time (ETA): 3:41 pm – 4:32 pm PDT
- Neutral section: 3 miles (4.7 km)
- Time bonus of 10, 6 & 4 seconds
- Sprint points of 15, 12, 10, 7, 6, 5,4, 3, 2, 1 points
- 3 Intermediate sprints for time bonus (3, 2, 1 seconds) and points (5, 3, 1 pts)
- in Pacifica (mile 17.3)
- in Half Moon Bay (mile 25.9)
- Summit Road (mile 102.9)
- 2 KOMs
- cat 1 on Empire Grade (mile 77)
- cat 2 on Bear Creek (mile 96.1)