Philip Deignan’s return to form continues this week at the balmy Amgen Tour of California.
The Letterkenny native was standing in third place overall at the beginning of yesterday’s fourth stage between Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara.
Deignan, who is racing for the UnitedHealthcare team, made his move on the 200km stage two, which passed through Palm Desert onto the slopes to Coachella Valley that average a 9.7 per cent gradient on Monday and onto New Palm Springs. Temperatures reached 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45.5 Celsius).
The 29-year-old was at the head of the race on the 5km final ascent and launched an attack which, while unsuccessful in netting him a stage win, resulted in a third-place on the day and third overall.
Many of the riders were suffering from extreme dehydration at the finish and needed medical attention or to be helped into their team vehicles as the savage slopes of the final ascent and the heat took their toll.
Having been in the US for some time, Deignan has clearly acclimatised very well.
Janier Acevedo of Colombia, racing for Jamis-Hagens Berman, won the stage.
In second place, BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen was 12 seconds off the pace - those were also the time gaps in the overall classification with Deignan 27 seconds behind Acevedo.
Deignan has made an enterprising start to the new season having won the Silver City Tour of Gila in New Mexico on May Bank Holiday weekend.
“I had a good block at altitude, and then did Gila, and I think that worked pretty well for me,” Deignan said after stage two in California.
“The only thing I was worried about today was the temperatures, and I think later in the week when it cools down a little bit, it will be better for me. It’s never been this hot in Ireland!”
Peter Sagan of Slovakia sprinted to the stage three win on Tuesday. The Cannondale rider completed the 189-km Palmdale to Santa Clarita road race in our hours, 20 minutes, 31 seconds.
Michael Matthews, from the Orica-Greenedge team, of Australia was second and American Tyler Farrar from Garmin-Sharp was third in the sprint finish.
The eight-day, nearly 1207km race began Sunday with a 164km stage in Escondido. Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands won in four hours, 31 minutes, 23 seconds - four seconds ahead of Francisco Mancebo Perez of Spain. Peter Sagan of Slovakia was third in 4:31:35.
The individual time trial takes place on Friday in San José and then race concludes following a 120km journey between San Francisco to Santa Rosa on Sunday.