May 17, 2014–Pasadena, CA.–By Jim Freibert, Special to Cyclists International
Photos(c) Jim Freibert.
Peter Sagan won the sprint in the second to last day of racing at the big California race Saturday, beating out other sprinters, and becoming
That brings Sagan’s total Amgen Tour of California wins to 11, and his 60th victory as a professional cyclist.
“I am very happy for this victory, and for the good work of my team because [they]were pulling on the front from the start until the finish. Yeah, it was a very big stage for us,” said the Slovakian road champion in the post-race press conference. “I am very happy for the victory – because I am a “finish” man, and today we did very, very good work.”
But the big story today was that the “general classification” leaders remained the same, with Sky’s ultra cool, eight men who have been riding more like a Swiss watch with ONE Goal – keep Sir Bradley Wiggins protected to finish the week as the AMGEN Tour winner.
Which means as riders start on the earliest start so far in the AToC, 8 AM Sunday morning, Wiggins is almost certainly going to be the overall winner when the tour concludes.
No offense intended to others, but the ingredients of Sky’s team, riders, and equipment are more like the Swiss Army knife, or MacGyver’s tricks, from some of the biggest and best team buses, to cool, almost see-through, Rapha jerseys – that retail for $375 with a pair of bib shorts, not talking about lingerie, we’re talkin’ technology!
For Peter Sagan, relief had nothing to do with the temperature, but everything to do with his team’s lead-out, Eloy Tervel Rovira’s big mistake, and his finishing sprint.
With one lap to go, the bell was ringing and Rovira who rides for Jamis – Hagens Berman (CT) sprinted past the breakaway riders Ben King, and Van Avermaet, only to realize no one was chasing him for the victory.
King said, “I was kind of cringing for him, it’s pretty uncomfortable when you realize what happened.” Half the crowd had gone crazy, until the other half explained the bell indicates one lap to go – no win yet.
On the next and all-important lap, it was Peter Sagan, beating the legendary Thor Hushovd, and young Danny Van Poppel of the Netherlands.
Steve Brunner the Press Operations Director asked a question that everyone might have been thinking, “Was there a sense of relief?”
“Finally, because I am always on the front from the first stage – fourth, second, finally comes a victory because second place is not good, no?” Sagan responded.
Referee’s first calls during Saturday’s 94-mile, 146.5 kilometer race came in Acton where Ben King won five points at the intermediate Sprint, second was Jelly Belly’s Mexican National Road champion, Luis Enrique Davila, who then collected the first KOM points, ten miles farther up the road, beating Colombian Issac Bolivar of United HealthCare.
They were followed by Danny Van Poppel who had a great day, big Lars Boom (a World Champion CX racer), Belkin – Netherlands; and Ben King collected another point, this time for sixth on that climb.
On the next and final climb (again a mile over sea level) UHC’s Bolivar took 8 points, with Chad Haga of Giant-SHIMANO added into the mix, getting five points for fourth,… all together, 66 points were awarded today, before the finish.
Going into the last day, Will Routley leads the KOM competition with 42 points. Among the sprinters, Peter Sagan now leads with 37 points, but unlike the last two years when Sagan wore the green jersey, every day, this year that may be an ongoing battle – all day Sunday.
The post-race press conference with Ben King, Peter Sagan, then Bradley Wiggins, included discussions of the hour record, Team Sky’s Tour de France selection of nine men, and finally Dr. Ramin Modabber, the board certified orthopaedic surgeon who serves as the Chief medical Officer for the AMGEN Tour of California (smog-ortho.com) who stated that riders probably needed to drink even more than the twelve to eighteen bottles a day they were consuming, in addition to ice bags they put on their necks, and other food, and fluid replacement!
Overall Standings (Full Results)