Tour of California: It was a good start but Mount Baldy will be different, says Van der Breggen

World and Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) took the spoils on stage 1 of the Tour of California Women’s Race on Thursday. What was expected to be a stage for the sprinters was made hard by high winds and a committed Boels-Dolmans team that pushed hard on the climbs, setting their leader up for victory.

Van der Breggen attacked on the final climb with five kilometers to go, passing the lone attacker Olga Zabelinskaya (Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling) and soloing to the finish at the Ventura beachfront alone. "It was a beautiful climb in the final part of the race, a good place to attack,” Van der Breggen explained. "The stage was tough with some climbing, but none of it really steep; that final climb was quite steep, so we tried it and it worked out."

The Boels-Dolmans team includes the defending champion Katie Hall, and Van der Breggen made it clear that she owed the victory to Hall and her other teammates who did a lot of work during the stage.

"It is really is a team victory here. Katie worked hard on the climbs before to make the race hard, and then Chantal Blaak and Karol-Ann Canuel worked really hard to close the gap to Olga more and more. I'm very proud of the team, it was windy, they kept Katie and me in front for the final climb, and I am happy that I could finish it off."

Van der Breggen now wears the yellow leader’s jersey and has a 25-second lead in the general classification over Elisa Balsamo (Valcar Cylance). But she is adamant that this does not change things for the challenging summit finish on stage 2, climbing almost continuously for the final 45 kilometres.

"It was a good start for sure, but this was one of the easiest days. Mount Baldy is a different stage, I think it will be a really tough one. I have not seen the climb yet myself, but I have heard stories about it. You just try your best, everybody does, it’s a fair stage. And it is great to have a different course every couple of years, I think it’s a beautiful course this year."

The first part of the stage was dominated by a solo breakaway. Riding for Hagens Berman-Supermint, Lindsay Goldman is also the team’s general manager, and mother of a 15-month-old girl on top of that. She found herself up the road on her own, battling into a strong headwind, and was awarded the jersey for the most courageous rider after the stage.

"I don’t regret it, it was rewarding, but it was also really terrible, unforgettable. Ten years from now, I’ll be telling my kid about it, that kind of terrible. It was very windy, and I was lonely, off the front, off the back. There really wasn’t a lot of time where I was in the peloton which was unfortunate as it was the perfect day to hide in the peloton. But that’s how the race unfolded, so I put everything I had into that solo move and figured ‘I’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow’."

The Tour of California Women’s Race continues with a 74-kilometre stage from Ontario to Mount Baldy on Friday.

Hear from former cyclist and human rights activist Kristen Worley on gender verification testing, testosterone, old ideologies and human rights in the latest Cyclingnews Podcast Women's Edition.

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