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Amgen Tour of California Women’s Final Report, Video Interviews, Photos

by Andrew Rogers
Leah Kirchman in green  ©  Andrew Rogers

May 11, 2015 (Sacramento, CA) – With the leaders separated by only seconds after two days of racing, the first 3-day, 3-stage Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM came to a thrilling conclusion with Velocio-SRAM’s Trixi Worrack (GER) posting a powerful ride to claim the title of the UCI-sanctioned event as the first-ever Amgen Tour of California women’s road race champion. Meanwhile, Canada’s Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) took her second consecutive stage victory as well as the overall Sprinter’s jersey.

Trixi Worrack and teammates celebrate  ©  Ethan Glading

“I’ve had an amazing time racing the Amgen Tour of California this week,” said Kirchmann. “It really means a lot for women’s cycling that the organizers have stepped it up and held an internationally sanctioned race with such a quality field. The venues were spectacular this week. The crowds were enthusiastic and big every day. And I just can’t wait to return to this race next year. It’s been awesome!”

Race action  ©  Andrew Rogers

On a day when the overall race leader changed three times, Stage 3, presented by Visit California, featured a fast and flat six-corner circuit course around California’s State Capitol Building in downtown Sacramento. Designed as a sprinter’s delight, the race leaders had to push hard to defend their positions, as the 65 cyclists still standing battled for every available Sprint point during a 17 lap all-out race totaling 54.7 kilometres.

Annie Forman-Mackay  ©  Andrew Rogers

Kirchmann climbed from 4th into second place overall with her victory, jumping ahead of Lauren Komanski (Twenty 16) by only 1 second, and just five seconds behind overall victor Trixi Worrack (Velocio-SRAM).

The top contenders Hannah Barnes (GBR, UHC), Mirnada Griffiths (AUS, BW), Erica Allar (USA, Colavita) and Kirchmann all battled in the final meters, but Kirchmann turned on her reserves with an extra inner burner and did the improbable with hard earned back-to-back victories, yesterday in the mountains and today on the smoking flats in California: “I truly feel like sharing this victory with my amazing teammates who pushed hard to day to put me on the podium, and being put in just the right spot at the right time, well, taking home these victories is like a dream.”

Annie Ewart  ©  Andrew Rogers

Saturday’s South Lake Tahoe road race winner, Kirchmann – a triple threat in the hills, sprints as well as in time trials – took the Sprint Leader Jersey from Canadian Allison Beveridge – and kept that jersey. She gained strength and confidence by making her mark on the West coast again: “I really like competing and being in California, though I do love returning to Canada to energize and see friends. Especially this race, which is so well organized and the fans were REALLY loud today, that I couldn’t even here the announcer as we passed on the last lap!”

Kirchmann wins the final Stage 3  ©  Ethan Glading

When asked about the balance of having a mix of three Americans and Canadians and if she is becoming a “Cali girl”, Kirchmann flashed that trademark smile: “It’s fun to have this mix and as we train in the winter here in California, it seems completely natural, but I’m all Canadian.”

Continuing with the recent success of Canadian women in California over the past few years, Kirsti Lay added another palmare to her resume as the Lexus Queen of the Mountain victor on Saturday and remained in her jersey through the final stage with no climbs to defend. She enjoyed an historic first ever QOM for Canada in this prestigious UCI race (and the first in Amgen’s pro women history).

Of note: 12 of the 61 finishers were Canadian, making up a full fifth of the field, with Alison Jackson just 41 seconds from the race leader, placing 7th overall, and Lex Albrecht coming in 9th, just 13 seconds slower; Kirsti Lay rounded out the top 20 just 2:03 behind Worrack (GER). Annie Ewart came in 26th, Karol-Ann Canuel in 31st with Denise Ramsden in 32nd in the same time. Laura Brown finished 39th, Rhae Christie Shaw placed a hard-fought 45th after leading the peloton on the penultimate lap of the final stage. Alison Beveridge, who wore the sprinters jersey after stage 1, placed 51st, Shoshauna Routley was 54th, and Stephanie Roorda finished 61st.

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