Lieuwe, Lieuwe, Lieuwe...

Sometimes taking a risk can be the plan. Today Dutchman, Lieuwe Westra took the risk, and with it victory in stage one of the Amgen Tour of California. I don't know if the Team Vacansoleil-DCM rider planned his move beforehand, or simply saw an opportunity and seized the moment. After the race Westra said "I saw with about 10 kilometers to go, the field was not so good, so I decided to make a move." It was the right move for the strong time-trialist, though he also benefited from the appearance of Francisco Mancebo a short distance later. The wily veteran, Mancebo, who has finished 10th, 9th, 7th, 6th and 4th at the Tour de France, was the only rider in the bunch to take note of Westra's gambit. The two worked well together, trading pulls to the line where Westra proved to have the better sprint. Pre-race favorite, Peter Sagan led in the chasers for third.

I must confess that Lieuwe Westra did not show up on my radar, my list of race favorites. Now that he is on top though, he may prove difficult to dislodge - he is both an accomplished time-trialist (2012 National Champion), and can climb when it counts (he won the Mountains Classification in the 2011 Three Days of De Panne). High placings in a number of premier races already this year would seem to confirm the strength of his ability. Day one may be done, but the heat has already put some prominent names into trouble, and tomorrow is going to be even hotter. What a week it is going to be.