Santa Rosa — What started out as a miserable, rainy California day turned out to be one of the best days in the entire history of Team Type 1’s Professional Men’s team, thanks to the efforts of Thomas Rabou. Stage two’s conditions were more reminiscent of Rabou’s native Holland than a late spring day in Davis, California, as Rabou used the many short, steep ascents to climb his way into the Amgen Tour of California’s King of the Mountain leader’s jersey and the Most Courageous Jersey.
Threatening skies met the riders from Team Type 1 when they assembled in Davis for the start of stage two, which would take them 110 miles to the finish in Santa Rosa. In between stood two intermediate sprints, as well as one category four climb, one category three climb and two category two climbs. After missing the main breakaway in yesterday’s stage, Team Type 1 was determined to make the day’s main move, and sure enough, Rabou was present when a group of five took leave of the peloton.
After rolling through the day’s first intermediate sprint and taking second, Rabou turned his eyes to the first king of the mountain sprint, a category four climb that peaked at mile twenty-seven. Rabou was the quickest to the top of the climb, picking up Team Type 1’s his first four King of the Mountain points. The group reformed just past the summit and set to work crossing thirty-five flat miles in scenic Napa Valley.
Next on the agenda for Rabou was the category two Howell Mountain climb at mile sixty-four. In the flat section the two King of the Mountain points, Rabou and his four companions established their largest advantage over the peloton of the stage, topping out at 6:50 ahead of the chasing group. As the breakaway hit the slopes of Howell Mountain, Rabou made his move to make sure he would take home as many King of the Mountain points as possible. Rabou’s attack quickly distanced the others in the breakaway, and he crested Howell Mountain first, with a sizable advantage behind him.
Rabou felt he would be better served with some help at the front, and not long after he had begun the descent from Howell Mountain, the breakaway had come back together. The peloton had seemed to come alive after the day’s second King of the Mountain point, and the gap to Rabou was closing steadily. At mile sixty-six, Rabou collected another second place finish at the day’s second intermediate sprint. From there, Rabou doggedly pushed on, as the category three Oakville Grade stood ahead, at mile 84, followed shortly by the famed Trinity Grade at mile 89. Thanks to cohesive efforts amongst the leading group, Rabou hit the bottom of the Oakville Grade with a gap of more than 3:30.
Once again, the pace at the front of the group began to cause separations among the leading five, and it was Rabou who darted out of the pack to take the maximum points at the top of Oakville Grade. This time, however, Rabou’s efforts had permanently left the breakaway with one less rider as they made their way towards Trinity Grade. The gap behind them was falling rapidly, and it was going to be a struggle for Rabou to remain clear of the peloton long enough to win the Trinity Grade King of the Mountains points.
Rather than wait for the rest of the breakaway, Rabou and Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare p/b/ Maxxis) struck out together for the top of Trinity Grade. The gap was down to two minutes as Rabou and Menzies reached five kilometers to go to the summit, and was steadily shrinking. Rabou dug deep, however, and reached the top of the climb with thirty seconds to spare, taking his fourth King of the Mountains victory of the day.
As Rabou and Menzies dropped down into Santa Rosa, they were brought in by an elite group of twenty-five who had crested Trinity Grade not long after the leading duo. Now all that remained was for Rabou to survive to the finish and collect his King of the Mountains jersey. Despite a deceptively difficult profile, Rabou hung tough and finished the stage with the same time as the stage winner
After picking up the maximum number of King of the Mountains points available in the stage, Rabou was awarded the California Travel and Tourism King of the Mountains jersey to wear and defend in tomorrow’s stage three. Thanks to his determined fight to secure those King of the Mountains points, Rabou was also awarded the Amgen’s Breaking Away from Cancer Most Courageous Rider award. The later achievement was made all the more poignant when Rabou dedicated his day’s work to his Mother, Kerien, who is in Holland fighting cancer. “I think she will be proud of me today, and I dedicate this jersey to her, of course, and I think it will help her to fight even harder to get rid of this disease.”
Overall, Rabou finished the day in twenty-fourth, quite the accomplishment after having spent the majority of the day on the front of the race. Thanks to his two second place finishes in intermediate sprints, Rabou moved himself up to fifth place on the overall classification standings.
As for tomorrow, Rabou said, “I will try to be in the breaks. I think I need to be in the break in order to keep the jersey all the way to the end.” He went further to say “I think tomorrow will be the same story as today. Radio Shack or the yellow jersey will control the race but there will be a breakaway again tomorrow. I need to make sure that I am in there or one of my teammates are there. It’s always a gamble if you get in the break or not, but I will try my best.”
Behind, solid and consistent riding by Team Type 1’s Chris Jones and Valeriy Kobzarenko allowed the two riders to finish in the first chase group to hit the line, 1:17 behind the group containing Rabou, good for X and Y on the day. Jones and Kobzarenko, as well as Davide Frattini, who finished 49th and only lost 2:47, are still well within striking distance on the general classification.
After one of the greatest days in Team Type 1 history, the team will face a 113 mile stage from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Team Type 1 will defend Rabou’s King of the Mountains jersey over two category two climbs, including the famed Bonny Doon climb, one category three climb and one category four climb.
Team founder Phil Southerland underscored the importance of Rabou’s day and of holding on to the King of the Mountains jersey, saying “he immediately dedicated the day to [his mother]. He helped us spread the message for diabetes, while also helping his mom with a boost for her own fight. He is a fighter, and we plan to fight to take the jersey all the way to the end.”
The eyes of the world will be on Rabou and his Team Type 1 teammates as he looks to keep hold of the jersey all the way to Thousand Oaks on Sunday.