The Queen stage of the women’s Amgen Tour of California gave all that it promised; with a 7740-foot ascent over the summit of Luther Pass, a 13 kilometre climb of Kingsbury Grade and a final climb at the Heavenly Mountain Resort making it the most difficult stage of this years race.
As soon as the flag dropped, Team Sunweb were back at their aggressive racing style with 18-year-old Juliette Labous going on the attack. Only after 31 kilometres up the road solo was she absorbed by the chasing bunch. As soon as she rejoined the pack, Team Sunweb took to the front and put the hammer down to try cause some splits to the bunch. As the kilometres ticked down the size of the bunch reduced and Team Sunweb were in contention with Coryn Rivera looking to continue with her good form. On the brutal first category ascent of Kingsbury Grade, Coryn was ahead of the bunch in a group of nine riders. She followed an attack but the seven riders behind didn’t give the duo any room to stay away and they were soon chased down. Another attack was launched on the climb which saw two riders go clear. As the winner came from the two leaders, Coryn fought her way up the final ascent to the finish and took 7th place at the line. After her tremendous efforts in the days breakaway, Juliette was also awarded the most courageous rider of the day.
After the race Juliette said: “It was nice to be out at the front, it was my first solo ride in a UCI race which was great fun. The conditions were really tough because it was very cold at the beginning of the race. I knew it was going to get warmer afterwards which kept me going! I’m very happy to be rewarded with the most courageous rider jersey, I think it also represents the aggressive race we did as the team. It was a good day and we look forward to tomorrow.”
Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans said: “We are very happy with today, we did what we could and raced really aggressively and with us not having a team of climbers here this was our best option. It’s a shame that nobody wanted to go with Juliette but when she was alone we thought we would just go for the jersey, for a young talent like Juliette it is a nice reward. After 50km we tried to put it in the gutter with the crosswinds and we managed to whittle the group down to about 20 riders but we didn’t have enough support to keep it going. I am also satisfied with how the final played out, Coryn surprised me on the long climb. In the final she suffered with some cramps but 7th is a very good result! Overall another great day for the team.”