May 18, 2014–Amgen Tour of California–Race Results–By Jim Freibert and Jen Benepe
The Manx Missile Mark Cavendish has won the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California, besting his rival Peter Sagan to the line.
He is now the only double stage winner in the eight-day race, ending a torturous week of cycling in extreme heat, especially for a sprinter. It was Cavendish’s eighth win in 2014 and his 133rd as a pro cyclist.
The end of the Amgen Tour of California also brings to a final emphasis the stunning resurrection of British Sky Team rider Bradley Wiggins to the forefront of professional cycling since he almost but disappeared from pro cycling competition in 2013.
“Those young Americans in my team, Joe, Ian and Danny have done a fantastic job – even today they didn’t give up the chase and came back after they’d been distanced on the climbs. This is a fantastic way to finish,” said Wiggo, as he is affectionately known in race circles.
It only raises the specter of what is to come when Wiggins and teammate Chris Froome compete head to head in upcoming Tour de France 2014. Though Team Sky race director Arvesen has told the press that Wiggins will “be working for Froome in GC.”
But we’ve seen that kind of scenario played out before between top teammates Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador when Contador famously dumped the so-called leader of their team Armstrong, on an alpine climb during the 2009 Tour de France.
Behind Wiggins was Australian Dennis Rohan who was unable to put a dent in the Brit’s lead of 30 seconds, and in third place was Lawson Craddock.
It was a cool day finally after seven days of unbelievably high temperatures, and the coastal marine layer cleared just before the start, for a postcard, picture perfect day.
Stage announcers called this week’s winners and jersey holders to the line, including Esteban Chaves of Colombia; Rohan Dennis; two guys three and five-time World Champions Cavendish and Phinney; young Americans Ben King, and Lawson Craddock; KOM leader Will Routley; the mighty Thor Hushovd, before Peter Sagan pulled a wheelie to the line, and Sir Wiggo was introduced.
Out on the course, with twisting descents, sometimes 45-55 mph, two riders flipped over the guardrails.
Meanwhile Peter Sagan gave bike-handling lessons, dropping competition and motorcycles on the downhill!
With the race half over, the field needed to worry about an eight man break, including Jens Voigt, but Jack Bobridge of Belkin, and the 2014 Paris-Roubaix winner, Niki Terstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) broke away from them.
They had 3 minutes, 35 seconds on the peloton as most of the riders started their last lap of the big loop. Behind them Sagan’s Cannondale team and Wiggin’s Sky team set the pace, trying to chase down the breakaway.
With Cannondale and Team Sky setting a fiendish pace on the front of the bunch though, they were also hauled back on the next ascent and Wiggins was sitting pretty on the front of the peloton as he crested the summit for the final time.
Despite more attacks on the descent, Joe Dombrowski and Josh Edmondson rode hard to keep everything in check, and the race came back together with five kilometers remaining as the sprint teams began to work their way to the fore.
Wiggins was able to sit back as Giant-Shimano and BMC battled for the win in the fast finale, but it was Omega Pharma – Quick-Step who joined the celebrations when Cavendish outpaced John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) at the line.