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Amgen Tour Finishes As It Started

  

Mark Cavendish had bookend stage wins in the Amgen Tour of California and Sir Bradley Wiggins had only one.

But Wiggins' (SKY) second-stage victory and course management over the following six stages was enough to win his first Amgen Tour of California. 

A second place finish in stage two and a win in stage three netted Rohan Dennis (Garmin Sharp) second overall. 

Lawson Craddock (Giant Shimano) took third and the Crunchies Best Young Rider jersey.  Craddock finished eighth last year.

A breakaway early on the final day was seemingly ignored for a time by the peloton as the lead riders extended their lead to four minutes.  But, the course -three laps totaling 76 miles and including a climb of 910 feet on each lap; plus the relentless pace of the lead group eventually fractured the peloton in half as they caught the breakaway. 

Wiggins and Team SKY forced the pace when they felt a threat to the lead throughout the tour, with the notable exception of Rohan Dennis' breakaway win in stage three.  Dennis cut Wiggins lead in half with the victory. Wiggins will likely never overlook the Australian again in their future competitions.

stage eight riders

When it was all said and done, Wiggins gave most of the credit to his team, calling them "incredible."

"Without those guys, I wouldn't be in this position now because you can't do it on your own," he said. "As strong as my performance was individually in the time trial, the team took the strain the whole week."

The end of the final stage looked almost exactly like day one in Sacramento.  Cavendish beat John Degenkolb (Giant Shimano) in a photo finish.  Cavendish was almost caught celebrating too early.  The photo finish will forever capture his celebration as Degenkolb came racing up from his right.  Peter Sagan (Cannondale) finished fourth in the day one sprint and third today.  He takes the green Visit California Sprint jersey for the 2014 tour.

Will Routley (Optum) was opportunistic in the middle stages as part of several breakaways through the climbs to be Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain jersey winner.

The next week-long road race is next month's Tour de Suisse.  The Tour de France is the first week in July.