With the winners of both the 2017 and 2018 editions in their ranks, Boels Dolmans had two of the big favourites for the 2019 Tour of California Women's Race in its line-up. Anna van der Breggen and Katie Hall more than lived up to expectations, taking a one-two at the Mount Baldy summit finish to stage 2 of the Tour of California Women's Race on Friday.
Van der Breggen had soloed to victory on Thursday's stage 1, in great part due to Hall's earlier work. In turn, Van der Breggen was happy to yield to Hall on stage 2 after the two had ridden the rest of the peloton off their wheels.
The stage victory carried special significance for Hall: "As a California resident, it's a special race for me, and I've won a stage in four of the last five years. It's my home race and always has good, hard mountainous courses, and that's my thing.
"I also went to college at the base of Mount Baldy, and so it was really cool to race it," she continued. "I wanted to win this stage, but I didn't know if it was possible. When we hit Mount Baldy Road, our DS Danny Stam said, 'Omer Shapira [Canyon-SRAM] is off the front, so pick up the pace'. I did that, we caught her and went one-two."
Van der Breggen couldn't follow her teammate's pace at first, but she bridged to the front further up the climb. Hall and Van der Breggen then left Shapira behind in the final kilometres, riding towards the finish together. With her overall lead secured, Van der Breggen did not contest the stage, enabling Hall to win on home soil.
"Shapira was in front and climbing well, and we had to do something," race leader Van der Breggen said. "Katie set a pace that was really fast and hard to follow. I could feel that I could close it to Katie, and we could do it together from that point on. We didn't talk about the win. I knew that if Katie and I could arrive together, it would be nice for her to get a stage win in her home race with her family waiting here on top. It wasn't a difficult choice."
In 2017, Van der Breggen and Hall fought hard against each other for the overall win, but are both happy to be teammates now.
"It's special to have Katie on our team," said Van der Breggen. "Two years ago, I only beat her by one second. One year you are fighting against each other, and the next year you're working together. But that's the nice thing about cycling. Katie is a great teammate, and so much fun to have in the team."
Hall returned the compliment: "I'm happy to have Anna as my teammate and not my competitor. She's so strong. Having her as a teammate gives me some opportunities, too, and options to win as a team when you're racing with her and not against her."
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