A determined ride by UAE Team Emirates’ 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar’s (SLO) today could make him the youngest ever Amgen Tour of California champion when the race concludes in Pasadena tomorrow. First-timers to this race, Pogacar and 21-year-old Sergio Higuita battled to the steep summit finish atop Southern California’s Mt. Baldy, with the EF Education First Pro Cycling Columbian rider slipping into second place for the stage after a wide turn to the finish gave the younger rider clearance to the line.
“It was for sure a team effort. Once again, my team did a really good job protecting me all day and leading me out to the final climb and supporting me all the ways that they could. I just did my best the last 5 or 6km, and I was climbing really well today,” said Pogacar.
The penultimate race day began with just 36 seconds separating the top-10 riders on the overall race leader board, which shattered on the steep ascent up Mt. Baldy.
Pogacar, who began the day in fourth place 16 seconds off the race lead and in the TAG Heuer Best Young Rider jersey he has worn for four consecutive days, now holds the overall race lead +:16” ahead of Higuita. Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen (DEN) and Team Jumbo-Visma’s 2017 race champion George Bennett (NZL) kept the lead group within their sights up the final mountainous stretch to keep their overall contention hopes alive, ending the day in third (+:20”) and fourth (+:29”) overall respectively. Tejay van Garderen (Tacoma, Wash.) of EF Education First Pro Cycling, who has held the overall race lead since day two, lost time on the final uphill section, falling to ninth place in the overall (+1:22”).
The Queen Stage from Ontario to Mt. Baldy, presented by Visit California, was the shortest but toughest of the week with 12,000 feet of climbing – more than half of that in the last 27 miles. Through the village of Mt. Baldy itself, through Icehouse Canyon, and up the ten switchbacks, the brutal ascent averages 9.4% with a max incline of almost 16%. In fact, the last half mile alone averages 12.8%.
Two thirds of the way into the stage, today’s breakaway held a three-minute advantage before things turned upward near the Glendora Sprint, and contained Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team’s Mikkel Bjerg (DEN), who was awarded today’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
BORA-hansgrohe’s 25-year-old German rider Max Schachmann, who began the day in fifth place and within reach of the overall win, attacked the peloton with less than eight miles left to ride and quickly caught then passed the lead group, the day’s first threat to the leader board. He nurtured his lead to 45 seconds, becoming the virtual race leader, as Trek-Segafredo and EF Education First worked together to close the gap in defense of their GC riders.
Pogacar and Asgreen rode near the front as the peloton gave chase. Van Garderen dropped off the back of the peloton with about 2.5 miles left to ride as it drove up the pace and bore down on Schachmann, a Giro d’Italia stage winner in 2018. Bennett and Pogacar were at the front of the chase group who caught him with two miles to ride.
Higuita soon attacked with Pogacar and Bennett responding, and Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte (AUS) following the trio, then leaped out to a solo lead with 1.7 miles left before Pogacar caught up to him in the final half-mile and sailed past on the final corner to victory.
RESULTS: 2019 Amgen Tour of California Stage 6 Men’s Results
FRIDAY, MAY 17
Podium: Stage 6 presented by Visit California
- Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE), 3h48’49”
- Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (COL), EF Education First Pro Cycling (USA), +00”
- George Bennett (NZL), Team Jumbo-Visma (TJV), +:05”
Jersey Winners after Stage 6:
- Amgen Race Leader Jersey – Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
- Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Mikkel Bjerg (DEN), Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team (USA)
- Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Davide Ballerini (ITA), Astana Pro Team (KAZ)
- Visit California Sprint Jersey – Kasper Asgreen (DEN), Deceuninck – Quick-Step (BEL)
- TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE)