Enthusiastic crowds welcomed riders to the finish of Stage 2 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California in Sacramento this afternoon after beginning in Nevada City, California. For the second year in a row, Nevada City was host to the first official day of racing in the Amgen Tour of California , after dangerous weather and road conditions required a last-minute change from the original Stage 2 start host city, Squaw Valley, to ensure rider safety and guarantee a complete day of racing. Even a little bit of rain at the end of Stage 2 couldn’t dampen the riders’ enthusiasm for getting on their bikes and starting the competition. And, even with the rain, the circuit was lined with fans. After three adrenalin-pumping circuits through the streets of downtown Sacramento, Ben Swift (GBR) of Sky Procycling won the stage and solidified himself as the overall race leader.
James Driscoll (USA) of Jamis-Sutter Home, was awarded today’s Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey, for his daring performance in a four man breakaway. “It was my duty today to try and get in the breakaway and fortunately four of my teammates were able to join me. We were working well together as a team; it was a classic formulaic sprint and we knew the Pro Tour teams would reel us in.
It was good to race aggressive like we were told to do.”
Also honored this afternoon was cancer survivor, Prakashni Shandil, who, together with her children and family, led today’s Breakaway from Cancer Breakaway mile march. After months of unexplained sore throats, this mother of three went to the emergency room where tests revealed a shocking dia gnosis. Prakashni had Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a form of cancer in which the bone marrow produces abnormal blood cells and the body’s ability to fight infection is weakened.
Prakashni’s medical team explained that a bone marrow transplant offered the best chance for a cure, and siblings are the preferred donor source. Testing ruled out two of Prakashni’s siblings and no matches were found in the National Bone Marrow Registry.
The family’s hope now turned to Prakashni’s brother, Anil, who was stationed in Iraq. Anxiously, they awaited his arrival home on leave. To their great joy, he tested as a perfect match. Prakashni says, “When I got the bone marrow transplant, it was a new life for me – a new birthday.” Prakashni now helps others as a mentor. She volunteers to speak to cancer patients regarding her own disease and survival, and she is a valuable resource for patients who are considering blood and marrow transplants.
California’s capital city served as the perfect backdrop for this first race stage of the tour. Follow CSC on Facebook and Twitter for timely updates throughout the tour. We’ll be in touch tomorrow from the Stage 3 finish in Modesto, CA!