After missing out on all three major North American races last year, Jamis-Hagens Berman made the most of its 2013 Amgen Tour of California invitation Monday by scoring a win with new recruit Janier Acevedo during stage 2.
The talented Colombian climber, who won the Mogollon stage of the Tour of the Gila earlier this month with a dominant solo attack up the final climb, jumped away from a select group that included BMC's Mathias Frank and Tejay van Garderen; RadioShack's Matthew Busche; Saxo Bank-Tinkoff's Michael Rogers and Tour of the Gila overall winner Phil Deignan.
Van Garderen was able to match the 27-year-old Colombian's initial surge but soon faded off the pace as Acevedo soloed across the line 12 seconds ahead of last year's Best Young Rider at the Tour de France.
Acevedo, who won a stage at the 2011 Tour of Utah, said today's win was undoubtedly the biggest of his career.
"There are no real words to describe what it feels like," Acevedo said through an interpreter. "I was just focused on the race and trying to win the stage."
Acevedo's victory is also the biggest ever for the Jamis squad, which used the offseason to bolster its roster and sponsorship. Team director Seba Alexandre initially signed former Bissell rider Ben Jacques-Maynes, who has competed in every edition of the Tour of California, before adding Acevedo and former WorldTour sprinter J.J. Haedo to the 2013 squad.
The offseason moves have already paid off for the US Continental team, which has racked up a handful of wins on the domestic circuit and which led the UCI 2.2 Tour of the Gila for a week in New Mexico before Deignan took over the lead on the final day. Now they can add a stage win in one of America's biggest races to the team's accomplishments.
"For us, a stage victory here has paid off," Alexandre told Cyclingnews at the top of the brutal Tramway climb after the race. "Anything else that comes, that's great, but we know the overall race is going to be very tough. We have to be realistic. We'll try to enjoy today, but for our team it's already a victory just to win the stage. It's huge."
The team will now have the considerable task of defending Acevedo's yellow jersey, but Alexandre said he's being realistic about the team's chances for the overall when the race rolls across the finish line next Sunday in Santa Rosa.
"I need to be honest about the riders I have and the team I have and who we are racing against," Alexandre said. "We're going to do what we can, but we know this is a world-class event, and there are a lot of the best ProTour riders in the world. We are one of the best US teams, but it's going to be difficult to control the race. So we'll do what we can, and if we can do it, great, and if not, then we've won a stage already, and that was the goal for the race."