Britain’s Ben Swift (Sky) won stage two of the Tour of California in Sacramento to become the first rider to don the leader’s jersey in the weather-affected 2011 race.

Swift opened up his sprint early and kept his momentum after a near-perfect lead-out from his Sky team-mates. Slovakian Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) nipped past Australian Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) on the line to take second place.

Swift’s time bonus for winning the stage puts him four seconds ahead of Sagan in the overall classification, and six ahead of Goss.

It’s Swift’s fifth victory of the year, having already won two stages of the Tour Down Under, a stage of Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and one at the Tour of Romandie earlier this month.

Big break

Earlier, Laszlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), Timon Seubert (Team Netapp) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) had formed up a successful breakaway. The quartet put on a good show but never really put a great deal of space between themselves and the bunch, driven along by the sprinters’ teams.

Three of the escape group were caught with 14 kilometres to go, but Jacques-Maynes went solo for a further crowd-pleasing kilometre before sitting up.

The sprinters’ squads then spread themselves across the wide roads as the heavens opened. Saxo Bank moved to the front of the bunch in the final finishing circuit for the Haedo brothers and were joined by Sky to build up the pace for their man Swift.

Despite an attempt to challenge Sky’s dominance in the finale by HTC-Highroad, Swift out-paced the challenge from HTC’s Matt Goss to take his fifth victory of the year.

Snow joke

Although it was stage two in name, Monday’s stage was actually the first to be contested in the 201 race after the proposed opening day on Sunday was cancelled due to severe weather conditions. Snow and ice had rendered the roads treacherous, and the organisers decided to draw the stage to a close after the riders had nervously ridden just a few kilometres.

The weather also took its toll on stage two, with the organisers shifting the stage start from Squaw Valley to Nevada City, and then finishing the stage with three circuits around Sacramento to bolster the mileage.

On Tuesday, the riders will hope for a more straightforward day from Auburn to Modesto over 196.2km. The 2011 Amgen Tour of California concludes on Sunday, May 22, in Thousand Oaks.

Six British riders are taking part in the race: Alex Dowsett, Chris Froome, Jeremy Hunt, Ian Stannard, Ben Swift (all Sky) and Charly Wegelius (Unitedhealthcare).  

Results

Amgen Tour of California 2011, stage two: Nevada City to Sacramento

1. Ben Swift (GB) Sky in 2-47-12


2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale

3. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad

4. Kevin Lacombe (Can) Spidertech

5. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank-Sungard

6. Alejandro Borrajo (Arg) Jamis-Sutter Home

7. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo

8. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing

9. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

10. Shawn Milne (USA) Kenda all at same time

Other

35. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Sky at same time

45. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at same time

80. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 15 secs

96. Alex Dowsett (GB) Sky at 26 secs

97. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 26 secs

130. Charly Wegelius (GB) Unitedhealthcare at 59 secs

Overall classification after stage two

1. Ben Swift (GB) Sky in 2-47-02


2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale at 4 secs

3. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad at 6 secs

4. Kevin Lacombe (Can) Spidertech at 10 secs

5. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank-Sungard

6. Alejandro Borrajo (Arg) Jamis-Sutter Home

7. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Garmin-Cervelo

8. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing

9. Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

10. Shawn Milne (USA) Kenda all at same time

Other

35. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Sky at 10 secs

45. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 10 secs

80. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 25 secs

96. Alex Dowsett (GB) Sky at 36 secs

97. Ian Stannard (GB) Sky at 36 secs

130. Charly Wegelius (GB) Unitedhealthcare at 1-09

Ben Swift wins and takes lead, Tour of California 2011, stage two



Britain’s Ben Swift wins stage two and takes the lead

Ben Swift wins and takes lead, Tour of California 2011, stage two



Ben Swift finds a fan on the podium

Related links



Snow forces Tour of California opening stage cancellation

  • Ken Evans

    Swift looks a good prospect for the worlds in Copenhagen.

  • Angharad

    Well done, Ben. This lad is going to be a force to reckon with as he grows in experience and confidence. I hope this win helps towards places in the world championships.

  • Mark Jones

    Good to see Swift doing so well this season and beating decent opposition.

  • arronski

    Awesome ride by Swifty, Sky bullied HTC, put him up against Cav in the TDF !