World champion Peter Sagan unleashed his powerful sprint at the last possible moment, overcoming Wouter Wippert and Dylan Groenewegen to win the opening stage of the Tour of California on today.
The Slovakian rider was quiet in the peloton all day before freelancing his way through the field at the end, winning his record-extending 14th stage by a half-tire length.
Today’s 109-mile stage began on the San Diego waterfront and included only one serious climb, midway through the route.
But there was plenty of time for the field to come together again on the run-in to the finish in San Diego, setting up a frantic sprint near the Pacific Coast.
Meanwhile, race hopeful Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) suffered from being boxed in during the scrappy finale and finished outside the top 10. Despite Katusha’s early work, Alexander Kristoff also did not figure in the sprint.
The day’s break consisted of seven riders: British rider Daniel Patten (Team Wiggins), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Michael Sheehan (Jelly Belly), Oscar Clark (Holowesko), Joonas Henttala (Novo Nordisk) and Danny Pate (Rally Cycling).
The gap moved out to over five minutes, but work largely from Team Katusha team made sure they didn’t get too much of an advantage.
The first category climb of Honey Springs Road was a feature at the mid-way point of the stage. Cavendish was among those dropped as the climb was navigated, but caught back up to the bunch on the descent.
As the peloton got within a minute of the break, Patten, Rathe and Clark struck out for one last stretch out front. Irishman Matt Brammeier (Dimension Data) joined Katusha at the front to help out with the chase for team-mate Cavendish.
Patten then got dropped, leaving Patten and Clark. With time running out, Sky and Tinkoff also collaborated with the chase inside 5km to go. The catch was made with 3km to go to set up a bunch sprint.
Sagan leads Wippert by four seconds overall thanks to his winner’s time bonus, with Michael Sheehan (Jelly Belly) in third also at four seconds after he collected bonus seconds from the intermediate sprints out in the break.
Stage 1 Results
SVK 1 SAGAN, Peter (TINKOFF) 4:20:41
NED 2 WIPPERT, Wouter (CANNONDALE)
NED 3 GROENEWEGEN, Dylan (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
FRA 4 COQUARD, Bryan (DIRECT ENERGIE)
NED 5 VERSCHOOR, Martijn (NOVO NORDISK)
ITA 6 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (TREK – SEGAFREDO)
POR 7 GUERREIRO, Ruben (AXEON HAGENS BERMAN)
BEL 8 BOONEN, Tom (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
CAN 9 DUCHESNE, Antoine (DIRECT ENERGIE)
USA 10 MURPHY, John (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)
GBR 11 FENN, Andrew (SKY)
NED 12 VAN POPPEL, Danny (SKY)
USA 13 POWLESS, Neilson (AXEON HAGENS BERMAN)
USA 14 PUTT, Tanner (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)
GBR 15 DOULL, Owain (TEAM WIGGINS)
NOR 16 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA)
ITA 17 CANOLA, Marco (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)
GBR 18 TENNANT, Andrew (TEAM WIGGINS)
USA 19 ANTHONY, Jesse (RALLY CYCLING)
ITA 20 PERON, Andrea (NOVO NORDISK)
USA 21 MCCABE, Travis (HOLOWESKO/CITADEL)
GBR 22 GEOGHEGAN HART, Tao (AXEON HAGENS BERMAN)
USA 23 PHINNEY, Taylor (BMC RACING)
USA 24 BOOKWALTER, Brent (BMC RACING)
USA 25 OWEN, Logan (AXEON HAGENS BERMAN)
ESP 26 MEGIAS LEAL, Javier (NOVO NORDISK)
SLO 27 BRAJKOVIC, Janez (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)
USA 28 EATON, Daniel (UNITEDHEALTHCARE)
GBR 29 CAVENDISH, Mark (DIMENSION DATA)
ESP 30 IRIZAR ARANBURU, Markel (TREK – SEGAFREDO)
General Classification after Stage 1
SVK 1 SAGAN, Peter (TINKOFF) 4:20:31
NED 2 WIPPERT, Wouter (CANNONDALE) + 4
USA 3 SHEEHAN, Michael (JELLY BELLY P/B MAXXIS)
NED 4 GROENEWEGEN, Dylan (LOTTO NL – JUMBO) + 6
USA 5 EATON, Daniel (UNITEDHEALTHCARE) + 7
FIN 6 HENTTALA, Joonas (NOVO NORDISK) + 8
FRA 7 COQUARD, Bryan (DIRECT ENERGIE) + 10
NED 8 VERSCHOOR, Martijn (NOVO NORDISK)
ITA 9 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (TREK – SEGAFREDO)
POR 10 GUERREIRO, Ruben (AXEON HAGENS BERMAN)
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