SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Anna van der Breggen started the final stage of the Tour of California trailing by a second.
She finished it ahead by a second.
The Olympic road race champion picked up two seconds on Katie Hall at an intermediate check and carried the slimmest of advantages all the way to the finish line Sunday, celebrating her fourth win of the season with a new car from Lexus and a big smile.
"We had to take one second back. It’s not much, but it’s still difficult if you’re not really a sprinter in a stage like this," she said. "The team did great, and I just had to hang on and get some seconds back, and we were really happy that it worked out and we got two seconds."
The finale of the four-stage race consisted of laps on a 2.2-mile course through California's capitol, and it shaped up to be a race that would be decided by the sprinters.
Indeed, Italian speedster Giorgia Bronzini won the race to the line, holding off Stage 3 winner Coryn Rivera and Kirsten Wild of the Netherlands to capture the victory.
But the plan for van der Breggen all along was to try to pick up the time she needed on Hall at the intermediate sprint. Her teammates on Boels-Dolmans set her up perfectly and she managed to come across to gain the bonus seconds, giving her the lead heading toward the final circuits.
Her victory followed the gold she won in Rio and wins in three other major one-day races this season: Amstel Gold Race, La Fleche Wallonne Feminine and Liege-Bastogne-Liege Feminine.
"Everyone tries to be good. The spring for me was not that good, but you don't see that anymore with victories like today," van der Breggen said. "It has to do with a lot of things. It's timing, having the right shape in the right moments, and also a team around you like in a race like this. I couldn't do it without them. Everybody has goals, and I totally go for it, and if it works out that's great, and sometimes it doesn't, and that's what cycling is."
Hall finished second overall in a significant result for her UnitedHealthcare team which, unlike world powerhouse Boels-Dolmans, races primarily in smaller races in the U.S.
"This was a really big deal for us," said Hall, who also won the mountains jersey. "We're not in the WorldTour, and so being able to take it to the WorldTour teams was really an honour. I'm happy we went away with the team (general classification), because it really was a team effort."
Cuba's Arlenis Sierra finished third, winning the points jersey for her consistency.
"This was very important for me. I'm very happy with this opportunity," she said, "and it means a lot to me because I've never had an opportunity to race in California."