Mas and Schachmann outline potential in tough Tour of California
Another edition of the US race is in the books, and Quick-Step Floors can look back with satisfaction to the past week, as our team – one of the youngest to line up at the start – was again among the protagonists in every single stage.
During the seven-day event, which this year was upgraded to World Tour status, the squad led from behind the wheel by Brian Holm won a stage with Marcel Kittel (the first yellow jersey of the race), notched four additional top-10 finishes, lit up the race with day-long breakaways and placed two riders in the top 15 overall.
When it comes to the latter, what makes things even more impressive is that both men to close the Tour of California in the upper echelon of the general classification were two neo-pros, Enric Mas (14th) and Maximilian Schachmann (15th). 22, respectively 23 years of age, the Spaniard and the German landed their best result of the season in a stage race, a remarkable performance considering the level of the event GC-wise, which led to a plethora of attacks, fast stages and out-of-the-box scripts, all packed in the seven days of this year's edition.
Stage seven (Mountain High – Pasadena, 125 kilometers), which was tailor-made for a breakaway, didn't make any exception, as all-out attacks came early, once the riders hit the slopes of the first climb, where the peloton was disintegrated. Despite a regrouping on the descent, the status quo went up in smoke on the second ascent, where a series of brutal accelerations coming from the general classification contenders blew everything to pieces.
A small group containing five men managed to keep the others at bay in Pasadena, and Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) sprinted to victory, beating David Lopez (Team Sky) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis). Matteo Trentin – one of the few riders to make the cut over the Upper Big Tujunga Climb – arrived with the first chasing group, around 20 seconds later, and concluded the stage in seventh place.
Despite the numerous skirmishes, the overall standings remained unchanged at the top, which meant George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished victorious the 12th edition of the race, ahead of Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac).
"I think we had a good week here in California. We took a stage win with Marcel, led the GC and showed some really great and strong teamwork", said sport director Brian Holm after the race which saw Quick-Step Floors cement its lead in the World Tour classification. "At the same time, our youngsters were up there in the GC, which is impressive considering Enric was initially slated to help David, who eventually had to sit out due to health problems, and Max came here in the last moment to replace him. Both have a big potential and I'm glad they showed glimpses of it here in the US."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele