Amgen Tour of California | Sagan Wins Stage 4; France Retains Overall Lead
World Champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia has claimed his 15th all-time Amgen Tour of California stage win after a long and hilly ride northward on one of the most scenic and iconic stretches of California roadway, Highway 1, through Monterey County.
“It was hard, but good,” said Sagan, when asked about Wednesday’s stage. “I’m very happy for my other teammates, and I’m very happy to have won.”
At 133.6 miles, the 2016 race’s longest stage began in Central Coast’s charming Morro Bay. The peloton of 133 faced undulating hills much of the day with a total of 8,500 feet of climbing during the only south-to-north route along Highway 1 in 11 years of the race.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s Mark Cavendish (GBR), who has nine Amgen Tour of California stage wins to his credit, was among a breakaway that formed about an hour into the race and stuck until a series of climbs toward the stage conclusion in the final miles. The 2011 World Champion was awarded the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey for his ride out front.
“The plan today was to get in the break,” said Cavendish. “We had a good card to play with Nathan Haas in the final, which we wanted to, but we didn’t want to have to ride to do that, because we wanted as many guys as possible in the final to help him, so the best option to support that was to get in the break.”
Also in the breakaway were Axeon Hagens Berman’s 21 year-old Greg Daniel (Denver, Colo.), who spent his second day in the row riding out front, and Direct Énergie’s Ryan Anderson (CAN).
In the last seven miles of the race, the peloton faced two categorized climbs to reach the finish at a destination known worldwide for speed, the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. As the cyclists fought it out in the streets, the breakaway was mostly overtaken and the peloton shattered, with attacks coming from all sides as riders vied for position early in the climb.
The WorldTour teams worked up front including Etixx – Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) to defend his Amgen Race Leader Jersey won yesterday. The last remnants of the breakaway, Anderson drove at the front, with Daniel eventually gaining ground to take a solo first position up the climb with about 3 miles left to ride.
A chase group containing Sagan, Nathan Haas (AUS) of South Africa’s Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka and Alaphilippe caught up to Daniel with about two miles to go. Another attack from Axeon Hagens Berman, this time from Ruben Guerreiro (POR), was countered by Haas after a hairpin right turn on the race track, to take the lead with just over one mile to go. BMC Racing Team’s Samuel Sánchez (ESP) worked to close the gap, with Sagan coming forward to put himself into contention for the finish sprint.
Haas attacked on the final climb and led out the sprint to the finish. Sagan summoned his trademark burst of speed to propel him there first. Haas ended the stage in third place, with BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) swooping in to claim second.
Sagan’s performance will put him in the Visit California Sprint Jersey tomorrow, and he is the overall leader for that Points competition as well. The SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey will stay with Neilson Powless (USA) of
Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team, who turned in another impressive performance on today’s climb, and Rally Cycling’s Evan Huffman (USA) retains the Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey.
At the midpoint of the race, there is no change to overall top-5 riders with Alaphilippe retaining overall lead by 22 seconds over Trek – Segafredo’s Peter Stetina (USA), followed by George Bennett (NZL) of Team Lotto NL – Jumbo, BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter (USA) and Powless, all within striking distance and 43 seconds of the race leader.
Australian general classification contender Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) got caught up in a crash at bottom of the climb on Laureles Road. His teammates worked to pace him back, but the setback resulted in a drop from 7th to 37th place overall.
Stage 4 Podium
Stage 4 Jersey Winners
Amgen Leader Jersey – Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (BEL)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Evan Huffman (USA), Rally Cycling Team (USA)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff (RUS)
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey – Neilson Powless (USA), Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team (USA)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Mark Cavendish (GBR), Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka (RSA)
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.
Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® program is a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer – from prevention through survivorship.
Since the Amgen Tour of California began in 2006, Amgen has honored and celebrated cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates at every stage along the race course.
“Nearly everyone has been touched by cancer,” said Raymond C. Jordan, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Amgen. “At Amgen, we are passionate about helping people impacted by the disease. Through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, Amgen is able to connect patients with important resources, whether they are interested in prevention, facing a new diagnosis, caring for a loved one or dealing with financial issues.”
Breakaway from Cancer celebrates cancer survivors at each stage of the Amgen Tour of California. During today’s activities, cancer survivor Melissa Johnson
(San Luis Obispo, Calif.) fired the gun at the start of the race and Karen Harrington awarded Mark Cavendish with the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
MEN’S STAGE 5 THURSDAY, PRESENTED BY VISIT CALIFORNIA
Thurs., May 19 – Lodi to South Lake Tahoe
Start Time: 9:45 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:46 p.m. PDT
WOMEN’S STAGE 1 THURSDAY
Thurs., May 19 – South Lake Tahoe
Start Time: 10:50 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 2 p.m. PDT
Amgen Tour of California fans can catch the action daily with live coverage of the race on NBC Sports Network (live conclusion on NBC on May 22), follow along on the Microsoft Tour Tracker App for mobile and desktop, and connect with the race through all of their favorite social media platforms. Links are available at the Social drop-down menu at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com and fans can use #AMERICASGREATESTRACE to join the conversation.
About the Amgen Tour of California and the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM
The Amgen Tour of California and Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM are Tour de France-style cycling road races created and presented by AEG that challenge the world’s top professional cycling teams to compete along demanding courses that traverse hundreds of miles of California’s iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. More information is available at amgentourofcalifornia.com.
The Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2 HC, meaning “beyond category”), awarding important, world-ranking points to the top finishers. This year, the course will cover 782 miles over eight days through 12 host cities, including San Diego (first-time host), South Pasadena (first-time host), Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara County, Morro Bay (first-time host), Monterey County, Lodi, South Lake Tahoe (first-time host), Folsom, Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
The Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race Empowered with SRAM will run for the latter half of the men’s race (May 19-22) as the U.S. debut event on the inaugural UCI Women’s WorldTour (WWT).
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people’s lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world’s leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.
Founder and operators of the Amgen Tour of California and headquartered in Los Angeles, California, AEG is the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company. With offices on five continents, AEG operates in the following business segments: AEG Facilities, which owns, manages or consults with more than 120 preeminent arenas, stadiums, theaters, clubs and convention centers around the world including The O2 Arena, the Sprint Center and the Mercedes-Benz Arenas; AEG Live, which is dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performances, including producing and promoting global and regional concert tours, music and special events and world-renowned festivals; AEG Real Estate, which develops world-class venues, as well as major sports and entertainment districts like STAPLES Center and L.A. LIVE; AEG Sports, which is the world’s largest operator of sports franchises and high-profile sporting events; and AEG Global Partnerships, which oversees worldwide sales and servicing of sponsorships including naming rights, premium seating and other strategic partnerships. Through its worldwide network of venues, portfolio of powerful sports and music brands, AXS.com ticketing platform, AXS cable television channel and its integrated entertainment districts, AEG entertains more than 100 million guests annually. More information about AEG can be found at www.aegworldwide.com.
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