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Over 800 riders took to the route of the Amgen Tour of California's eighth and final stage on Sunday for the inaugural Breakaway Ride presented by Specialized. This granfondo style event was the first of two rides in which cyclists have the opportunity to experience a stage of America's premier bicycle race.
The Breakaway Ride benefits Amgen's Breakway from Cancer initiatives. Sunday's event raised over $40,000 for cancer-related charities. One of the featured riders was Olympic bronze medalist and former 7-Eleven team rider Roy Knickman, whose son Andreas is recovering from treatment for bone cancer. Roy and Andreas paced the riders attempting the 37-mile route. Amgen Tour of California race director Jim Birrell was at the front of the field of riders attempting the 63-mile and 107-mile routes.
On the day that saw Fabian Cancellara win his second Paris-Roubaix in France, Knickman remembers his ride at the Hell of the North in 1988:
"I got in the early breakaway that was still leading when we hit the Arenberg Forest. Suddenly a huge gap in the cobbles appeared and I tried to bunny hop over it, but hit my rear wheel on a cobble and flatted. I was never able to regain the lead group. It was a real pity because everyone in the break who made it out of the Arenberg Forest finished in the top ten overall including Dirk DeMol and Thomas Wegmuller who went 1-2. But, that's Paris-Roubaix."
The famous "Rock Store" climb, a 2.5 mile ascent which reaches grades of 9-10 percent was timed in order to determine the King and Queen of the Mountains. Brent Graves of Los Gatos, California and Christina Deronde of nearby Calabasas were declared the winners of the 107-mile route. Dan Chapman of Santa Monica and Rebecca Nickodem of Fullerton were the winners of the 63-mile route.
Making an unscheduled appearance on course was late night comedian Jay Leno, who frequents the Santa Monica mountains near his home on his collection of vintage motorcycles. Having Leno on the course provided a nice boost as riders were tested by blustery winds and unseasonably cool temperatures.
The next Breakaway Ride is scheduled for April 25th, where cyclists will have the opportunity to ride the Amgen Tour of California's second stage - 109 miles from Davis to Santa Rosa with Team BMC's George Hincapie. Shorter route options starting and finishing in Santa Rosa are also being offered.