For Axeon’s Ian Garrison, descending skills combined with disc-brake technology helped him earn the most courageous rider jersey for the day at Amgen Tour of California.
Garrison, of the Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling team, was part of the main breakaway of the race in Stage 3 from King City to Monterey. The 20-year-old deftly traded pulls with his older and more experienced breakaway companions. Garrison especially shined on the tricky and technical descents on the California Central coast. At one point he was dropped on the uphill and rejoined the group on the downhill. His effort earned him the blue jersey recognizing him as the day’s most courageous rider.
Photos by Jordan Clark Haggard
Garrison was purposeful in selecting a disc-brake equipped bike (Specialized with SRAM RED eTap Hydro with Zipp 303 Firecrest disc-brake wheels) after carving up downhills in his pre-race training. The modern day pro peloton is a mix of rim and disc-brake bicycles, but Garrison said disc brakes made a big difference in Tuesday’s hilly stage.
“I kind of got popped over the top of the climb when Logan (Owen), Toms (Toms Skujins) and Evan Huffman came back up to me,” Garrison said. “It was a tricky descent, but after having ridden on them for two or three weeks now I feel confident in how they feel, and I was really able to smash that descent and catch back up to those guys…. They definitely help you brake later. You have more control so you can go a bit hotter into the corners with a little more confidence and not worry about losing control. I think that’s the biggest thing, is just being able to dive into the corners with confidence.”
Team director Axel Merckx added: “It’s the future. That’s what it is. Riders like him really benefit from disc brakes because he’s a great downhiller. He’s a great bike handler. That’s where he can make the biggest difference. The braking skills are there. Already before the Tour of California he did some testing with the bike and broke a few Strava’s downhill not even trying hard, and that kind of tells you that the technology in the disc brakes is giving a huge advantage on the downhill.”
It was a particularly successful day with Axeon’s Sean Bennett taking second on the stage after a late attack.