By Amy Firth, Cycling Writer
For any cycling race, be it a local Gran Fondo, road racing, cyclocross or mountain biking, California always promises backdrop of stunningly beautiful scenery. For the second time in the Amgen Tour of California’s 11yr history the race passes from South to North starting today, in San Diego, for the “grand depart”. San Diego is a city whose residents thrive on a healthy lifestyle and is home to many passionate cyclists. In fact, it was recently described as North America’s cycling capitol in a survey by San Diego Sports Innovators generating a 600-million-dollar industry supporting 1,100,000 cyclists throughout the county.
Stage one, a picturesque 108-mile ride through San Diego County was predicted to end in a sprint finish. Despite the long climb up Honey Springs, part of the “Great Western Loop” a favorite for local cyclists, British sprinter Mark Cavendish hoped to be part of the sprint to the line on this Stage. Adding a little humor to the pre-race press conference, Jens Voight claimed this stage would just “warm up the legs a bit”.
Seven riders established a breakaway group who rode fearlessly to hold a 4+-minute lead over the peloton for much of the race. San Diego based, Jacob Rathe (USA) of Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis was awarded the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey, an outstanding achievement after coming back from artery surgery last year.
Team KATUSHA controlled the peloton throughout the race and with the assistance of other key teams they reeled in the break setting the stage for the sprint finale promised. World Champion, Peter Sagan, emerged from a chaotic peloton jockeying for position and exploded over the finish line celebrating a victory over Wouter Wippert (NED) by the width of his handlebars. Sagan, now sporting the yellow jersey and celebrating his 14th Amgen Tour of California career victory (the race’s all-time record holder for stage wins), in Mission Beach, San Diego announced “I’m very happy to be here again, to catch a first victory here, in the first stage. Thank you to all my teammates. Today was a good day.”
Stage 1 Podium
- Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff (RUS)
- Wouter Wippert (NED), Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA)
- Dylan Groenewegen (NED), Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (NED)
Stage 1 Jersey Winners
Amgen Leader Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff (RUS)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Oscar Clark (USA), Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear (USA)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff (RUS) (jersey will be worn tomorrow by Wouter Wippert (NED), Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Dylan Groenewegen (NED), Team Lotto NL – Jumbo (NED)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Jacob Rathe (USA), Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis (USA)