An early breakaway has been a constant of every non-time-trial stage at the Amgen Tour of California. In Stage Three, Toms Skujins turned a breakaway into a victory.
There would be no repeat of that on Sunday during the tour's eighth-and-final stage.
Entering the final minutes of the race, Julian Alaphillipe held a lead of a single second over Peter Sagan. Neither rider's teams would let the morning's breakaway get farther than 300 yards ahead.
A stage winner has 10 seconds deducted from his time. Second place has six seconds deducted. Third place has four deducted.
At the end, Mark Cavendish did what he's done three other times this week and sprinted to a stage win. Wouter Wippert was second. But a photo-finish was needed to determine the third-place finisher as Sagan "threw" his bike at the finish line to beat Tyler Farrar to the line by perhaps an inch.
With the finish -and the bonus seconds deducted from his overall time- Sagan leap-frogged Alaphillipe to win the overall title by just three seconds. It is the closest finish in Amgen Tour History.
Alaphilippe entered the race with a two-second lead, which was trimmed to a second as Peter Sagan took second-place during a mid-race sprint which was good for a two-second deduction from his time. Alaphilippe was third in the sprint -good for a second off. Both were behind Mark Cavendish.
Sagan says he once did the same thing in the Tour of Poland, eeking out an overall victory with a second place finish on the last day.
Mark Cavendish took the King of the Sprinters title. Daniel Oss took the King of the Mountains title. Alaphilippe was named Best Young Rider. Oscar Clark was named the Breakaway From Cancer Most Courageous Rider.