Stage 3 of the Tour of California did not let anyone that is for sure. If you’ve been on the slopes of Gibraltar road, then you know the difficulty of this climb and what is required from a rider to not just ride the course, but race it. Gibraltar road is 12kilometers long with an average gradient of 8%, reaching as high as 16% in some areas. As such, there is no escaping the sting of this climb.
With the race’s finish at the top, it was clear the winner of the stage would be a climber and would come out of a small group that included GC contenders. This is indeed what transpired as Julian Alephilippe of Etix Quickstep took the top step on the podium, leaving his fellow cyclists gasping for air.
Wahoo-sponsored team rider Peter Kennaugh from team SKY had to abandon the race after a crash with 20 km to go. Peter was the teams main GC contender and team leader for the race, and suffered a suspected collar bone fracture.
We took part in the Rapha group ride earlier in the morning that led us through a portion of the course the pros would be riding later. Our tour ended with the main event, Gibraltar road. We then hung out with fans and cheered the riders on as they approached.
The first three groups of riders were all business, and the cheering from fans reflected that intensity with plenty of “allez, allez, allez” from French speakers, and “go, go, go” from English.
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the looming element of the forthcoming climb on the other, the riders and crowd began to mingle with each other. Some cyclist chose to take the espresso shots we offered, and one rider even accepted an ice cold beer that was handed to him.
As the founder of Rapha was part of our group, all of Team Wiggins swung by to say hello, along with Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. Television never broadcasts these candid moments between the athletes and fans, and yet these interactions are what make the race and cycling culture what it is.
Enjoy the photos: hopefully they get you just as excited as they did for us.
Follow along the rest of the week:
Stage 4: Route checkins from the route explaining how the race will play out and what the riders can expect to experience on course.
Stage 5: Team SKY Instagram takeover. Course report live and post race analysis.
Stage 6: Canyon/ SRAM racing Instagram takeover live from the team time trial.
Stage 8: Final stage ride report and live check in from Sacramento where the winner will be crowned as the King of California.
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