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U.S. National Team Riders complete Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California

Hoehn attempts to defend his polka dot jersey on a blustery day and the Amgen Tour of California Women's Race Empowered by SRAM Kicks off

USA Cycling was back on the attack during stage 5 at the Amgen Tour of California, where 22-year-old Alex Hoehn (Lenexa, Kan.) once again infiltrated the race breakaway to protect the King of the Mountains jersey he won during a daylong breakaway on stage 3.

The 219.5km kilometer route from Pismo Beach to Ventura included five KOM sprints, including the category 1 climb up San Marcos Pass Road at 128.5km into the day. Hoehn fought mightily just to make it onto the day’s move as a strong tailwind blew the peloton’s pace sky high.

“That was one of the hardest breaks I’ve ever had to make,” a dust-covered and battered Hoehn said in the team parking lot after the stage. “Just getting across with one other guy was incredibly difficult. Everyone wanted to be up in the break today.”

Hoehn bridged with another rider to a group of 10 that was already up the road. The group included three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), among others, as well as USA Cycling development program graduates Brandon McNulty (Rally UHC Cycling) and Neilson Powless (Team Jumbo-Visma).

Despite his efforts, Hoehn’s polka dot KOM jersey found a new owner for Friday’s stage 6 climb to Mt. Baldy, as Astana’s Davide Ballerini also made the breakaway and edged out Hoehn on the first two climbs, taking the virtual polka dot jersey on the road and knocking Hoehn into second.

The rider from Lenexa, Kansas lost contact with the group on the climb up San Marcos Pass, ceding the mountains lead to Ballerini with two stages remaining. Ballerini went on to win the final two KOMs and now leads Hoehn in the mountains classification 51 points to 35.

“There were some hitters up there,” Hoehn said of his breakaway companions. “It was a quality group of guys, so I was pretty bummed to drop out of there. The legs come and go some days, and some days they’re off. Today was definitely an off day for me. I was just happy to make it to the finish and start another day tomorrow.” 

Hoehn spent more than 100km off the front during stage 3, a 208km route from Stockton to Morgan Hill, winning the jersey but also turning himself inside out in the process. He said his legs felt like raw meat the next day during stage 4, but he was back in the mix again on Thursday to fight for his jersey.

Team Director Mike Sayers said he was proud of his young rider’s effort and commitment.

“He got in, and he’s paying the price for the week, but that’s to be expected,” Sayers said. “He gave it a try, and that’s all we ask. He gave it a try, didn’t work out, no problem.”

For his part, Hoehn said he’s not done trying to win the final polka dot jersey in California, because the jersey looks good with the USA Cycling logo splashed across the front. It would be wise not to count him out.

“I’m going to try, absolutely,” he said of making the moves over the final two days. “I’m going to try until my legs fall off.”

Powless, who rode the breakaway until it was caught near the end of the final stage after the final KOM at 99.5km, said it was “pretty awesome” to see the USA Cycling National Team jersey in a UCI World Tour race with the international teams he competes against around the globe.  

“I think they should be a part of this race every year,” Powless said. “With all the other World Tour races I’ve done this season, I’ve seen a lot of them have their national team in the races, and I think that’s super important for young riders, especially now that there’s not a super big schedule for the national team. I think races like this and opportunities like this are so important. You can already see how successful they’re being because they are so eager to perform here and show they can do it. (Travis) McCabe is sprinting with the best of them, and they’re holding at least one jersey. It’s really incredible. It’s a massive display of US talent.”

The Amgen Tour of California Women's Race empowered by SRAM also kicked off yesterday in Ventura. 24 U.S. riders started the race including defending 2018 Champion Katie Hall, National Champion Coryn Rivera, U23 National Champion Emma White, and Time Trial and Track Cycling World Champion Chloe Dygert-Owen. 

The extremely windy day saw one solo breakway in the beginning of the race by U.S. rider Lindsay Goldman, who rides for and owns Hagens-Berman p/b Supermint, she was later awarded the jersey for Most Courageous rider. 

The end of the stage saw a splintered field in which the winner was current World Champion Anna Van der Breggen of the Netherlands. The first U.S. rider to cross the line was Emma White in eighth place. White is the reigning U23 Road Race, Time Trial and Criterium National Champion.

This year’s National Team presence at the Tour of California was made possible with the additional support of JustBARE Chicken and VolvoUSA.

Visit USACycling.org for more information on the athletes, events and membership programs, and follow @USACycling across all channels for the latest on Team USA. For more information on the 2019 Tour of California, visit: https://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/

For more information, please contact Kelly Fox at kfox@usacycling.org or Guillermo Rojas at grojas@usacycling.org.