SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Katie Hall kept churning over the final climb during the second stage of the Women’s Tour of California, driven ahead by the voices of her UnitedHealthcare teammates in her ear.
They were saying "Suffer! You can do this! Go, go, go!" Hall recalled.
So she did. All the way to the finish.
Hall caught and passed Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen in the last mile Friday to win not only the stage south of Lake Tahoe but also assume the overall race lead with two stages left.
"I have some teammates who are really good at suffering and are teaching me how to suffer," Hall said. "That encouraged me to dig as deep as I could to pull her back in the last kilometre."
The peloton shattered on the final climb to Daggett Summit, and it was Hall, van der Breggen and Coryn Rivera who managed to shake loose near the top of the hill.
Rivera was quickly dropped and Hall and van der Breggen stretched their lead to more than 30 seconds on the downhill. Van der Breggen attacked with about three miles left and put about 8 seconds into Hall, who promptly clawed back the lost time and swept right into the lead.
"A climb of 15 kilometres is something different than we’ve done before," said van der Breggen, who helped teammate Megan Guarnier win the opening stage. "The team did great to make a good pace and when Katie attacked we had to follow. I just had to stick on her wheel."
Her second-place finish left van der Breggen just three seconds behind Hall heading into the 73-mile third stage from Elk Grove to Sacramento. Guarnier finished fifth on the stage and the defending overall winner is 26 seconds adrift for her Boels-Dolmans team.
"Megan is getting back in shape again," van der Breggen said, referring to a concussion Guarnier sustained earlier this season, "and she did really good coming in the group behind us."