Under clear blue skies with a brisk wind blowing off the Pacific Ocean, Tuesday’s stage 3 in the 12th Amgen Tour of California proved to be a good one for Team KATUSHA ALPECIN with lead out man Rick Zabel, 23, able to hold a long uphill sprint to take second on the day behind stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Team leader Alexander Kristoff was fourth, all on the same time of 4:53:26 (38.135 km/h) for the 186.5km stage from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay.
“We made a plan for today’s stage and the team did exactly like we wanted. They kept things under control like we asked and at the last corner with 400 meters to go Alex was on my wheel so I just went with everything I had to give for the lead out. I had a pretty good punch. Unfortunately, Alex could not come by, only Peter Sagan so I went in his draft and got second place, but we wanted to win so we will try again in other stages,” said Rick Zabel.
The long uphill drag from the corner proved to be the undoing for many sprinters but Zabel and Kristoff executed strong teamwork to head out for the finish line. Sagan motored past on the right of the KATUSHA ALPECIN duo and showed a clean set of wheels to take another win in the California tour. Third place on the day went to Simone Consonni of UAE Team Emirates. The GC remained the same with Sagan teammate Rafal Majka in the leader’s jersey by 2-seconds to George Bennett of Team LottoNL-Jumbo and 14-seconds to Ian Boswell (Team Sky).
On hand today was another well-known sprinter also known as Rick’s dad, Erik Zabel. “My dad was here watching and he’s super excited for me, but really we want to win, not just be second, so we are still hoping to win a stage. There are more chances to try,” promised Rick Zabel.
Racing continues on Wednesday with a start in Santa Barbara and finish in Santa Clarita at 159.5km.
Photo credit © Andy Bokanev