Consistency means a lot in stage racing, and it vaulted Lauren Komanski into the lead Saturday after Stage 2 in the women’s division of the Amgen Tour of California.
While Canadian Leah Kirchmann (Optum-Kelly Benefit) sprinted alone to a 49.6-mile stage win in 1 hour, 57 minutes and 33 seconds, Komanski (Twenty16) finished second in a single-file parade among the top four women.
Combined with her third place in Stage 1, Komanski will hold a three-second lead over Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM) entering Sunday’s third and concluding stage in Sacramento.
Komanski’s effort continued her strong season. The 30-year-old rider from Winston-Salem, N.C., claimed the road race and overall title in mid-February at the Valley of the Sun road race in Arizona. Three days later, her squad won the team title trial in the Tour of New Zealand.
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“My teammate took care of me all day, and I just waited for the final climb,” Komanski said.
Worrack, a former German national road race titlist, finished third in the second stage, about two bike lengths behind. Former race leader Katie Hall finished fourth, 6 seconds behind.
“Our plan was to have Lex Albrecht and myself as our team’s protected riders to conserve as much energy as possible and to have good position on the final climb,” said Kirchmann.
Hall (UnitedHealthcare) of Oakland, who assumed the race lead by two seconds with her opening-day win, is third overall and trails by 10 seconds. Kirchmann is fourth, behind by 12 seconds.
“It was hard; there were attacks all day,” said Hall of the two-loop route that ended with a steep climb and short straightaway in front of the lodge at Heavenly Mountain Resort. “I was too far back on the final climb, and I just didn’t have enough.”
Riding in temperatures in the mid-50s – 10 degrees warmer than in Stage 1 – and under blue skies, a group of about 30 riders completed the first loop in just under one hour.
But for the second consecutive day, the climbs and the altitude hurt the field. Six riders were eliminated by time or didn’t finish Stage 2. Eleven cyclists were cut in the opening stage.
Sixty-three women of the original field of 82 will ride a 17-lap criterium Sunday around Capitol Park. The third stage will start and finish at 11th and L streets, with the 34-mile trek scheduled at 11:20 a.m. The finish is estimated at 12:45 p.m.
The 126.2-mile men’s opening stage will start at the same location as the women’s race at 10:50 a.m.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) of Slovakia, who has won 11 Tour of California stages, will return, as will Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quick-Step) of Great Britain. Cavendish has five stage wins in the event, including Stage 1 last year in Sacramento.
The 18-team, 143-rider field will cross the Tower Bridge, progress into West Sacramento and advance along the Sacramento River through Clarksburg, Courtland, Walnut Grove and Isleton.
After a few additional miles, the riders will cross the river into Rio Vista and head north into Solano County and pass through Davis and Woodland.
The route will turn east and return to West Sacramento, cross the Tower Bridge and arrive at the start-finish line for two circuits and an estimated 3:45 p.m. finish.
James Raia is a Sacrameto-based freelance reporter. He has covered the Amgen Tour of California every year.