Amgen Tour of California | Defending Champ In Lead After Stage 1; In SCV Monday
[San Diego, May 15] – The 2016 Amgen Tour of California presented by AEG came in like a lion with World Champion and reigning race champion Peter Sagan (SVK) of Tinkoff roaring to victory in a bunch sprint to the finish line in Mission Beach, San Diego, putting him back into the yellow leader jersey he wore at the race’s conclusion last year. Today’s stage kicked off the 11th annual 8-day stage race, which features some of the most accomplished riders in the sport competing across 782 miles before concluding in Sacramento next Sun., May 22.
“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,” said Sagan of his 14th Amgen Tour of California career victory (the race’s all-time record holder for stage wins). “I came here the first time in 2010…it was a very nice race, very good organization, very nice hotels, food… Also, the level of the race is very good, and it’s also very good for preparation because it’s good weather. Now it’s the Giro and Tour of California. And I prefer to come here to train and prepare. And also I like California for the fans, and I’ve won a lot of stages here, and I’m very happy always to return here.”
The picturesque 108-mile ride began with a breakaway group of seven riders who sprang out to take a 4+-minute lead over the peloton, which they held for much of the stage. Team KATUSHA rode at the front of the peloton for much of the stage, with Team Sky, Tinkoff and BMC Racing Team lending a hand to chase down the leaders in the final miles. For his part in the breakaway, Jacob Rathe (USA) of San Diego-based Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, the 24 year-old rider who is coming back from artery surgery last season, was awarded the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
With about two miles left in the stage, Team Lotto NL – Jumbo leapt to the front of the pack with Tinkoff jockeying for position to bring Sagan to the front. The last mile and a half saw a chaotic peloton fighting for control, with Lotto NL – Jumbo seeming to take over but Tinkoff still in the mix. Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team’s Tom Boonen (BEL) made a move toward the final meters which did not prove strong enough for the win today, turning in an 8th place finish. Nothing could hold back the explosive World Champion, with Sagan claiming the coveted Amgen Race Leader Jersey as well as the prize for Sprint points today.
“The fans are very nice. Every year it’s more and more fans for me, and I’m very happy for that,” said Sagan, who spoke of his love for California in the days leading to the race. The fans loved him right back, erupting into roars when he catapulted over the finish first by the length of his handlebars.
Cannondale’s Wouter Wippert (NED) took second place (and will wear the Visit California Sprint Jersey tomorrow) with fellow countrymen Team Lotto NL – Jumbo’s 22 year-old Dylan Groenewegen (NED) earning third place on the stage as well as the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey.
American rider Oscar Clark (USA) of Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear will ride tomorrow in the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey, which he earned in the one KOM climb today during his time in the breakaway. Speaking of the level of competition at the Amgen Tour of California, he commented:
“It’s great for us. It’s the biggest race we do all year, so to have the world champion and past world champions, and all the big name riders, it’s awesome for what we do,” said Clark.
Alexander Kristoff’s (NOR) Team KATUSHA rode hard for him all day with the famed sprinter getting swallowed by the other teams and coming in 16th for the day.
Stage 1 Podium
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)
Celebrating its 11th year, the Amgen Tour of California is the most esteemed stage race in the U.S. Amgen has been the title sponsor of the race since its first year.
For more than 35 years, Amgen has been pioneering science to help patients suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Leveraging its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, Amgen is raising awareness around two of the world’s most serious illnesses and connecting with patients through Breakaway from Cancer and Breakaway from Heart Disease.
Breakaway from Cancer, created by Amgen in 2005, is a national initiative to raise awareness of the important resources available to people impacted by cancer – from prevention to survivorship. Through its four non-profit partner organizations – Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cancer Support Community, Patient Advocate Foundation and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship– Breakaway from Cancer helps connect patients and caregivers to important resources.
As part of Breakaway from Cancer, Amgen will honor and celebrate cancer survivors and their support networks at each stage of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. Throughout the week, cyclists will wear Breakaway from Cancer “I Ride For” bibs recognizing someone in their life impacted by cancer.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
Amgen’s newest initiative Breakaway from Heart Disease encourages others to take action to make heart health a priority. The campaign encourages people to use road bikes and stationary bikes to get active and heart healthy.
American Heart Association’s healthy heart journey, known as the Heart Health Tour, launched today with the CycleNation spin event adjacent to the finish line and it will continue across America. If you can’t attend an event in person, join the ride virtually by uploading your bicycling photo and pledging your miles. Each time a photo is submitted, you will be entered to win a set of Schwinn bikes; each photo submission will also trigger a $1 donation to the American Heart Association. Go to www.BreakawayFromHeartDisease.com to join the movement and learn more about what you can do today to help improve heart health for tomorrow.
STAGE 2 MONDAY, PRESENTED BY SRAM
Mon., May 16 – South Pasadena to Santa Clarita (92.3 miles)
Start Time: 12:05 p.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:45 p.m. PDT(c)2016 AEG | SCVTV