Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) confirmed the return to the kind of form which won him a stage of the 2009 Vuelta a España, following up his overall victory at the Tour of the Gila with a fine performance on the second Tour of California stage in Palm Springs.
The 29-year-old Irishman was at the head of the race on the 3.7-mile final ascent and rather than be content to just follow wheels, he launched an attack which, while unsuccessful in netting him a stage win, resulted in a third-place on the day and third overall.
Just 27 seconds down on race leader Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), and 15 seconds behind second-placed Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Deignan is hoping to have enough to hold on for a top result.
"I had a good block at altitude, and then did Gila, and I think that worked pretty well for me. The only thing I was worried about today was the temperatures, and I think later in the week when it cools down a little bit, it will be better for me," Deignan told Cyclingnews.
It's been a few years since Deignan has shown his class: following his 2009 Grand Tour stage win, he struggled with a host of issues, glandular fever, overtraining, other various illnesses and injuries. He was on an upward trend in 2012 with the UnitedHealthcare team, but had to cut his season short to head back to Ireland when his father fell ill.
He performed consistently in the early season, and then in the lead-in to Tour of California captured the overall victory with a brilliant performance on the final stage of the Tour of the Gila.
Can he hold onto a podium spot? Deignan is hoping his time trialing skills will hold up to the test.
"I'm time trialing better this year than before. I don't know if I can be on terms with [Michael] Rogers and guys like that, but definitely in Gila I was close in the TT, and I'll try to limit the losses and see what I can do on Diablo."
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