Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) fell four seconds shy of the capturing the golden leader's jersey when a tyre slide on the wet pavement caused him to lose position during the final sprint in stage two's 177km road race at the Amgen Tour of California.
The Australian sprinter placed 12th, out of the time bonuses offered to the top three finishers and currently sits in third place overall behind race leader Brett Lancaster (Cervélo Test Team) and stage runner up Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo).
"I think we would have been able to win the stage today," Menzies told Cyclingnews. "But, if I wasn't in that breakaway today, I wouldn't have been in that front group. I was able to climb the climbs at my own pace and the last climb I gave everything I just had to try to get to the top of it.
"I knew when I got to the top I'd be fine. The group came across and I was looking forward to the sprint because we had Marc [De Maar] and Rory [Sutherland] there... Shit happens. Rory still had a good sprint, he was fourth. It was definitely an opportunity lost but we put it out there and raced hard."
Menzies rode into an early breakaway of five riders that included Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Andrew Randell (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy), Thomas Rabou (Team Type 1) and Jay Thomson (Fly V Australia).
The five riders maintained a steady five-minute margin ahead of the peloton, lead predominantly by the RadioShack team. Menzies picked up a total of six seconds at the two intermediate sprint zones offered on route making him the virtual leader on the road.
"It's definitely good for our confidence today," Menzies continued. "Rory and Marc were riding really well and Max Jenkins wasn't far off there on the climb. I felt good in the group. It was a good confidence booster because we've been in the breakaways and animating the race so far."
After riding more than 160km off the front, a group of 20 riders bridged across to the breakaway on the final climb of the day over Trinity Grade. The group contained all the heavy-hitting general classification contenders concerned with driving the pace to the finish line ahead of the shattered main field.
Menzies left enough in the tank to fight for a podium in the stage, where time bonuses available to the top three finishers would have been enough to bump him into the overall race lead. He was arguably one of the fastest sprinters in the lead group; a slide-out in the second to last corner shot his chances at claiming the four seconds he needed at the finish line, however.
"In the second last corner, it wasn't really a crash; my front wheel slid out and I lost my place in the front group," Menzies explained. "I was off the back of the bunch and I kind of caught back up because everyone was swarmed a little bit with about 600 metres to go. Rory was up there and it would have been nice to get that 1-2 punch. He finished fourth and that was good."
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