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Mark Cavendish might have got off to a slightly slower start this year, but it doesn seem to be holding him back at all. The Omega Pharma sprinter won the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California to give him five victories in his last nine starts.
The TT will offer small time gaps, but it will also serve as an indicator of which GC riders are on form and merit watching by rivals for the Stage 3 finish atop Mount Diablo.
While Mark Cavendish leads the sprint classification, because he also the race leader, John Degenkolb will wear the sprint jersey for Stage 2 and 3.
Will Routley (Optum) edged out Matt Cooke (Jamis Hagens Berman) for the first KoM leader jersey by winning the lone summit points on the day route.
Had the wind been slightly different, it might have been a decisive move and changed the face of the race. But when the race took a turn northwest toward downtown, they turned directly into the breeze.
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Instead, they regrouped for the sprint. Even with the energy they expended in the sprint, Omega was able to control Puma Ignite Dual Usain Bolt
Cavendish hadn been to the Golden State since 2010, but wasted little time re acquainting himself with the top spot on the podium. The former green jersey winner from the Tour de France used a powerful team to expert effect, jumping into the day significant split and then piloting a frenetic finale to a narrow win over Giant Shimano John Degenkolb narrow it had to go to judges to decide the photo finish.
The race longest stage was a straightforward 120 mile circuit on paper, with a pair of climbs midway, an early break and what looked to be an inevitable sprint finish. But nature threw a blustery curveball with stiff crosswinds much of the day.
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is the first time in my career I really had no idea Puma Basket All Black Leather [if I won], he said, noting that he won and lost stages by mere centimeters in the past but still known the outcome before it was confirmed.
Monday time trial is one of the pivotal stages of the race. At 12.5 miles, it not long, but it a straight power course that is ideally suited for bigger riders. Jack Bobridge (Orica GreenEdge) and Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) could set early fast times. The focus will be on Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Wiggins, but don overlook domestic pros like Optum Tom Zirbel.
Wiggins certainly put the race on notice that he in good shape and motivated, rolling through in the echelon to help expand the gap. At this point, crosswinds will not likely play a big role the next few days as the winds are expected to calm down. So the focus turns to the crucial Stages 2 and 3 to help set the general classification and settle the race.
didn deplete our energy any further.
Under the pressure, a select group of 18 riders drew clear, including Cavendish and three teammates, plus the heavy favorite for the overall, Sky Bradley Wiggins. With the sidewind nullifying the numerical advantage of the chase, the 18 rider echelon gained up to 45 seconds at one point. Behind, teams that missed the move, like Cannondale and Garmin Sharp, began to organize a chase.
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Mark Cavendish Wins 2014 Tour of California Stage 1
Trek Factory Danny Van Poppel was fifth in the sprint and would normally lead the best young rider standings, but Bissell Tao Geoghegan Hart gets that honor instead. Why? Hart was part of the day major breakaway and picked up time bonuses at the intermediate sprint point. So even though he finished 46 spots behind Van Poppel, he four seconds ahead on time.
the last lap and a half of the finish circuit, delivering Cavendish to the win.
As for as the overall race, today stage wasn all that meaningful. Riders may have burned a few more matches than they wanted in the hectic crosswind sections, but ultimately no major contender lost any time.
felt the crosswinds, knew the split was going to happen, said Cavendish, but when it changed to a headwind, the point of pressing on was moot. you got a small group, that much distance, and a headwind, you never going to stay away, he said. sat up and Puma Ignite Colors
Late in the race, buffeted by a steady 15 20mph push from the right, the race broke apart. Omega hit the front along with several other alert teams and the race quickly lined out into a desperate paceline, as riders fought to get back in the shelter of the echelon up front.
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