Long Beach, California - Jasper Philipsen of the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team wasted no time showing his sprinting prowess in placing 6th on stage 1 at the Amgen Tour of California.
“It was superb riding with the big pros in my first World Tour race,” said Philipsen. “It felt like a dream to have the team, especially Ian, put me into a great position in between all of the world class sprinters. At the end, it was a huge struggle for position.”
The top 10 placement was the 20-year-old Belgian’s 7th of the year. The recent Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux GC winner has spent the first part of the year racing in Europe, earning 2 stage victories at Triptyque and landing on the podium at Driedaagse Brugge - De Panne.
“I knew if I was in a good position I could execute a good sprint, but with so many veteran sprinters here I felt like a top 10 finish would be at my limit,” remarked Philipsen. “It was a really cool experience and I hope that I can learn from every sprint I do and try to get a little bit better each time.”
Sunday’s stage marked the team’s return to racing in the Golden State after missing out on a selection in 2017 when the race was upgraded to a World Tour race. The team is coming into California firing on all cylinders after earning victories at Rabobank Dorpenomloop Rucphen, Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, Liège - Bastogne - Liège U23, and Redlands Bicycle Classic.
After the race got underway, Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko-Citadel) and Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) immediately set off in a breakaway. The two riders were caught on the final lap of the 11-lap, 134.5 km stage.
“It was very calm all day until the finish,” said Ian Garrison. “We tried to keep it simple and didn’t stress about doing a full leadout. Between me, Ricey, and Jasper, we were able to float through the field well until just before the finish. Ricey got us into great position between Katusha and Sunweb with about 3 km to go. I was able to bring Jasper to about 1 km and then Jasper of course gave it a really good go. It was a fun day and great start for the team.”
Ivo Oliveira and Garrison were the teams next best finishers, placing 11th and 29th respectively. After time bonuses were awarded and calculated across the field, Philipsen sits in 10th place in the GC, while Oliveira is in 14th.
“It's good to be back racing at Tour of California,” said sport director Jeff Louder. “The guys showed they are ready for the challenge and deserve to be here. The finale was exciting and it was great to see the team place Jasper in a position to fight for the stage. We've had a very positive start to the week with Jasper's 6th and Ivo in 11th. I am looking forward to seeing the guys capitalize on their opportunity to race against the World Tour teams in the days to come.”
(Photo: Davey Wilson)