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Words - Brian Co

Images - Lauren Diaz


 

Ventura - Santa Barbara

The second day of the Amgen Tour of California is uncharacteristically a decisive day in the saddle for the General Classification riders. The race goes from the tranquil sea views of Ventura and finishes at the top of the famed Gibraltar climb. A grueling ascent where the climbers can shine.

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The unsung heroes behind the scenes are the mechanics and soigneurs. They are the first awake and last asleep, and responsible for making sure all the equipment/gear works flawlessly. While bikes are personalized with the rider’s name and number, mechanics see them as their bicycles, with the rider merely using them.

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American favorite, Brent Bookwalter, has spent a good portion of the offseason preparing and training on these roads. He has practiced climbing up Gibraltar Climb in cold and foggy conditions. Today he puts his skills to the test as he and fellow American Tejay Van Garderen head team BMC and take on the World Tour's best climbers. He appears optimistic and ready for the day ahead.

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Bookwalter's number ends in 1, as is customary for leaders of teams. Meanwhile, New Zealand's Patrick Bevin appears relaxed before the tough day. Fun fact: before a race he prefers his breakfast all mixed together in his own creative concoction.

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Every sprinter knows that when the race goes uphill, they’re on borrowed time. Yellow Jersey winner from Stage 1, Colombian Fernando Gaviria, remains realistic about his chances, but still confident in his Quick Step team, one of the strongest in the world.

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Green Jersey winner Australian Caleb Ewan is one of the smaller riders of the peloton yet he still carries himself with the confidence and swagger of a giant.

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There’s excitement and ceremony at the start of each stage. Race announcers energize the crowd, music is blaring, rider favorites get call-ups and intros. Even with all the fanfare, riders are calm, collected and ready for a big day in the saddle.

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For spectators, the only way to view the race is to actually ride up Gibraltar Climb. At the top, a lucky few gain entry to the VIP tent, to watch the feed. It’s a lot of effort just to be able to catch a glimpse of the best in person, sometimes for only a mere moment.

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If Stage 2 winner (and eventual overall winner), Colombian Egon Bernal of Team Sky, wins a Grand Tour, this will be a day that he forever remembers as his professional winning debut. Also, when he put all of his competition on notice.

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Pre race favorite; Switzerland's Mathias Frank of Ag2r, is exhausted and humbled after tackling his first major climb on American soil. Amazingly enough, he was still willing to share his thoughts after crossing the finish line.

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With the majority of the cyclists out of contention for the overall win, they get ready for the next stage to Monterrey. New Zealand's Jack Bauer of Mitchelton Scott and Italy's Daniel Oss of Bora Hansgrohe, gave their thoughts on the experience and what lies ahead…