Watsonville's Ben Jaques-Maynes will start Monday's second leg of the Amgen Tour of California in fifth place after a gruelling 119.6 mile day in the hills of Santa Rosa.
His aggressive riding earned him the black Exergy Aggressive Rider Jersey, which he will wear in Monday's leg which starts in San Francisco at 11 a.m. and ends 117.1 miles later at Cabrillo College in Aptos between 3:40 and 4:30 p.m.
Peter Sagan, 22, was in first place at the end of the day. The Slovakian who rides for the Liquigas-Cannondale team will wear the yellow jersey Monday when the cyclists shoot down Highway 1 before tackling the Santa Cruz mountains, first by climbing Bonny Doon Road and then heading down into the San Lorenzo Valley only to climb again up Bear Creek Road.
Jaques-Maynes, 33, who rides for Bissell Pro Cycling, was thrilled to get a jersey.
“The goal is to waive the Bissell flag and the Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey tomorrow," he said. "I’ll take this win."
Jaques-Maynes was part of a breakaway of eight riders who sprinted ahead of the peloton just after all 128 riders rode two short, crowd-pleasing loops through downtown Santa Rosa before heading for the Sonoma county hills.
“It was a manageable group," Jacques-Maynes said after the race. "We were given the leash and we had good cooperation."
The group had an 11-minute lead over the peloton, a lead that left spectators, commentators and cyclists starting to question the peloton’s ability to catch up before the finish.
The breakaway group was absorbed by the peloton less than three miles from the end after a challenging 10,000 feet of climbing that wound up back in Santa Rosa for the finish.
“There are some pretty gnarly descents, but we had good cooperation with the weather today," Jacques-Maynes said. "It was just a great day to be out with a great crowd. I’m really happy to win a jersey.”
Tens of thousands of spectators cheered on the racers, the biggest crowd ever, according to Amgen officials.
are all too familiar to Jacques-Maynes, who rides most of this stage at least once a week for training, but expects to be challenged after putting on such a show Sunday.
“I think I will be like Levi, suffering on my home roads,” he said. Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa, broke his leg when a car hit him during training six weeks ago yet chose to race. He described his day as both rewarding and suffering after receiving a jersey for the most courageous rider.
Despite the expected suffering, Jacques-Maynes intends to put on a good show for his home crowd, and expects his familiarity with the terrain to give him an advantage.
“Today definitely sapped the legs a little bit," he said, adding, "I’m going to do my best.”