Santa Barbara, California - Will Barta of the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team battled up the tough Gibraltar Road finish on stage 2 at the Amgen Tour of California to finish in 16th place.
Egan Bernal (Team Sky) attacked with 2 kilometers remaining on the 157 km stage on Monday, winning the stage and taking the overall race lead.
After starting on Ventura Pier, riders once again caught glimpses of the ocean as they made their way to the looming finish climb, one that ascends nearly 1,000 meters over 5 km and with a maximum incline of 12%.
“I think that the day went pretty well, especially considering the talent at the race,” said Barta. “The team delivered me to the front very well positioned on the climb, which was very important with a technical run in, and then we essentially went full gas to the top. I hung on until about 4 km to go and then rode my own pace to limit the time loss.”
Hagens Berman Axeon’s Sean Bennett finished the queen stage three places behind Barta in 19th, while Ivo Oliveira rounded out the top 30.
"The stage was all about GC and we knew it would be the strongest that survived," said sport director Jeff Louder. "Barta and Bennett were impressive against a strong group of World Tour climbers. The level is very high this year and the rest of the guys rose to the challenge by placing our climbers in the right position during a hectic fight to the climb. Now that the GC is more or less in place, we are looking forward to hunting for opportunities in the next stages."
Stage 3 will take riders 197 km from King City to the fabled Laguna Seca racetrack.
(Header image of Will Barta by Casey Gibson.)