Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) climbed his way into the King of the Mountains jersey following a lengthy breakaway during the 177km second stage of the Amgen Tour of California. The Dutchman was one of five breakaway riders, all from North American-based Continental teams, that went on the attack during the day's soaked ride to Santa Rosa.
"Our break soon got five minutes and I felt great up the hill and was able to get the KOM points," Rabou told Cyclingnews. "I didn't know how close the GC guys were to chasing us because I was so focused on winning the KOM points. I focused on that jersey and I succeeded. It was a good day for me and the team."
"The team is really happy about it and we are enjoying the jersey right now," he added. "Our goal is to keep this jersey and try to bring it to the finish of the race. That is the main goal for me."
The day's decisive breakaway included five ambitious domestic riders with Rabou, Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Andrew Randell (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia) and the man sitting third place overall, Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis). They maintained a steady five-minute margin ahead of a peloton lead predominantly by Team RadioShack.
Menzies picked up the intermediate time bonus sprints offered en route and Rabou proved to be the strongest climber by capturing full points on all four King of the Mountain ascents located on CA 128, Howell Mountain Road, Oakville Grade and Trinity Grade.
"I think the domestic teams are trying their best to be in the breakaway to gain as much media attention as possible," explained Rabou. "This is the biggest race that these teams do and they can get great publicity here. Today there were five domestic guys and I think these teams are happy to be in the break. We try our best to show that we can race well in this kind of peloton."
The five riders were caught on the run in to Santa Rosa by a 20-rider chase group containing nearly all of the overall contenders. That bunch also included a handful of domestic climbers such as Marc De Maar and Rory Sutherland (United Healthcare p/b Maxxis), Paul Mach (Bissell), Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and François Parisien (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy).
"It shows the Continental teams are not afraid to challenge," said SpiderTech directeur sportif, Steve Bauer. "On our behalf, SpiderTech's confidence is building and we are certainly happy about good results; however, more importantly we are critical of ourselves and looking for ways we could have won. Today the breakaway collaborated and the guys knew their only chance was all five riders contributing to the drive."