Tour of California Stage 7 Comes Down To A Sprint

peloton_pasadena_atoc_stage7_2014

Final Chance for Leaders to Contest the Yellow Jersey in Tomorrow’s Thousand Oaks Circuit Race

PASADENA, Calif. (May 17, 2014) – With a new Amgen Tour of California champion to be decided as America’s premier annual road race concludes tomorrow, Team Sky and their former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (GBR) played it steady today to keep his 30-second lead in tact. But with a difficult course ahead for Stage 8 in Thousand Oaks, the quest to take home the prestigious yellow jersey is far from a foregone conclusion.

“It depends who’s there, how the race pans out at the start,” Wiggins said about the final stage. “I haven’t really looked at the route yet, so I have to take a look at it and try to think of all the scenarios that could happen tomorrow and try to work out a strategy for those. But I guess Peter [Sagan] will have another go if he’s there.”

Today’s Stage 7 presented by Crunchies Natural Snacks was finally the day the peloton’s top sprinters have been trying to materialize all week, with Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan (SVK) sprinting to his first Amgen Tour of California stage victory this year, and furthering his record stage wins in this race to 11. Marking his 66th career victory, Sagan will remain in the Visit California Sprint Leader Jersey, which he has won four years running.

“Today, I am very happy for this victory,” said Sagan. “It was big work of my team, all the team, because they were all pulling from the start to the finish. It was a very big stage for us. I am very happy for a victory because I’m a finish man and today we did very, very good work.”

The 88.7-mile stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena began with a breakaway of seven cyclists around mile 13. Nearing the top of Angeles Crest, at more than 4,000 feet elevation, the final climb before a speedy descent into Pasadena, Team Garmin-Sharp’s Ben King (Charlottesville, Va.) attacked, narrowing the group to four, with the peloton trailing by about two minutes. Determined to deliver Sagan first over the line, Cannondale Pro Cycling propelled the peloton forward, steadily gaining on the lead group even as the elevation continued to rise.

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As the breakaway descended into downtown Pasadena at speeds near 60 mph, rider by rider fell back until King and BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) punched up the speed to become the last two standing out front with 10 miles left to ride. As they crossed the iconic Colorado Street Bridge onto the first of three 3-mile circuits, the peloton bore down and finally caught the two just before the final lap. King’s ride earned him the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.

In the final lap, Cannondale Pro Cycling, Team Giant-Shimano and BMC Racing Team maneuvered to put their sprinters into prime position to pounce, with Team Sky taking turns at the front to ensure their leader would not lose time at the line. In the final kilometer, BMC Racing Team’s Taylor Phinney (Boulder, Colo.) led out former world champion Thor Hushovd (NOR) in a bid for the stage win. At his heels were Team Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb (GER) and Sagan.

Sagan used three tight corners leading to the finish to his advantage, moving around to the front to claim the stage win by a clear margin. Hushovd, who has racked up stage wins in every Grand Tour, including nine in the Tour de France, placed second, with Trek Factory Racing’s Danny Van Poppel (NED) in third, Zakkari Dempster (AUS) with Team NetApp-Endura in fourth and Degenkolb settling for fifth.

There was no change to the overall lead today, and Wiggins will ride the final stage in Thousand Oaks wearing the Amgen Race Leader Jersey (+:30) over Team Garmin-Sharp’s Rohan Dennis (AUS). Lawson Craddock (Austin, Texas) of Team Giant-Shimano remains in the Crunchies Best Young Rider jersey and in third place overall (+1:48) with Team NetApp-Endura’s Tiago Machado (POR) in fourth place (+2:02). Will Routley (CAN) of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies further cemented his hold on the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain Jersey today, which he alone has worn all week.

“The Amgen Tour of California provides an opportunity to raise awareness of some of the world’s most serious illnesses, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease,” said Ray Jordan, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs, Amgen. “Our sponsorship also allows us to connect with patients through programs running in tandem with the race, such as the national Breakaway from Cancer® initiative.”

Founded by Amgen in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, Breakaway from Cancer continues to raise awareness of the important resources available to people impacted by cancer – from prevention to survivorship.

As part of today’s activities, Santa Clarita resident and cancer advocate Lisa DeLong fired the official start gun, and Bakersfield’s Larry Aronat, winner of the recent design contest to create this year’s Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey, presented the jersey to Team Garmin-Sharp’s Ben King.

For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.

From iconic ocean vistas to mountaintop finishes to desert scapes, the cyclists will cover more than 720 miles of beautiful and varying California terrain this week as they ride from the north to the south of the state in the ninth annual Tour de France-style competition.

STAGE 8 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY AMGEN:
Sunday, May 18 – Thousand Oaks (76.1 mi)
Start Time: 8:30 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 11:40 a.m. PDT
Satellite Feed Time: 12:50 – 1 p.m. PT

Results on Saturday in the seventh stage
of the Tour of California, 143 km from Santa Clarita to Pasadena:

1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Cannondale) 3hrs 24min 33secs, 2. Thor Hushovd (NOR)
same time, 3. Danny Van Poppel (NED) s.t., 4. Zakkari Dempster (AUS) s.t., 5.
John Degenkokb (GER) s.t.

15. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) s.t.

Overall standings after seven of eight stages:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/Sky) 25:28:15, 2. Rohan Dennis (AUS) at 30sec, 3.
Lawson Craddock (USA) at 1:48, 4. Tiago Machado (POR) at 2:02, 5. Adam Yates
(GBR) at 2:14.

Jersey Winners
Amgen Leader Jersey – Bradley Wiggins (GBR), Team Sky (GBR)
Wiggins has won the Amgen Leader Jersey six times since stage 1
Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Will Routley (CAN), Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
o Routley has won the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey every stage
· Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Cannondale Pro Cycling (ITA)
o Sagan has won the Visit California Sprint Jersey three times since stage 1
Crunchies Best Young Rider Jersey – Lawson Craddock (USA), Team Giant-Shimano (NED)
Lawson has won the Crunchies Best Young Rider Jersey six times since stage 1
· Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Ben King (USA), Team Garmin-Sharp (USA)

Stage 7 Men – Top 3
· FIRST – Peter Sagan (SVK), Cannondale Pro Cycling (ITA)
· SECOND – Thor Hushovd (NOR), BMC Racing Team (USA)
· THIRD – Danny Van Poppel (NED), Trek Factory Racing (USA)

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