Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) earned the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider jersey after a lengthy escape during stage two of the Amgen Tour of California. The cyclo-cross specialist recently graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Vermont, but skipped his commencement to participate in the eight-day race.
"I’d rather have the jersey that I fortunately got - than a cap and gown," Driscoll said to Cyclingnews.
"I was checking online and I passed all my classes this semester. I was told that if I were to do that then I would be all set to graduate. No, I do not have my diploma in hand, but I should be getting it in the mail."
Driscoll entered into a four-rider breakaway approximately 16 km into the stage and was caught as the peloton entered onto the three short finishing circuits in Sacramento. His efforts were rewarded with the most courageous rider jersey, given each stage to a rider who displays determination, perseverance and inspiration.
"It was my duty to try and get in the break and fortunately there were four of us on the Jamis-Sutter Home team that were supposed to do that," Driscoll said. "It was my rotation and fortunately I was in the move that stuck. The field was pretty close but once there were four of us in the break we were working really nicely together."
"Going into the stage it was a pretty classic formulaic sprinter stage and I knew that the big Pro teams were going to almost certainly real us in for the sprint," he added. "But, it was good to race aggressively like we were told to do and get exposure for my sponsors."
Driscoll is a nationally renowned cyclo-cross rider, but competes in the road with the US-based UCI Continental Jamis-Sutter Home team during the spring and summer months. The team has been quite successful in the US National Racing Calendar (NRC), winning the individual classification with Luis Amaran last year and also winning the series best overall team competition in 2009. However to the surprise of many, was not invited to the Amgen Tour of California last year.
"This is huge to be here this year," Driscoll said.
"As the defending NRC team champions, and we are arguably the best racing team in the country, and to not be able to race in our country’s biggest stage race was a little strange last year. It’s a huge deal, I think, to get the jersey that I got today, especially with Jamis and Sutter Home Vineyards in their backyard."
Winter storms forced race organizers to cancel stage one and shorten stage two from its’ original 214 km to 98 km, beginning in Nevada City. Driscoll admitted that the cyclo-cross riders in the peloton were slightly disappointed not to have the opportunity to race under wintery conditions. However, after seeing photos of the parcours he understood the race organizers decision
"All the cyclo-cross racers were really bummed because we are used to adverse conditions and I think that plays into our liking and our advantage," Driscoll said.
"But, honestly, seeing the pictures from the conditions, and having tires with tread on them going around a cyclo-cross course in the mud is one thing, but a big pack with skinny road tires on ice is another thing. I think it was for the best that the stage yesterday was cancelled and that they truncated the snowy parts on this stage."
The Amgen Tour of California continues tomorrow with a 196.2km stage from Auburn to Modesto.