In 2015, Slovakian Peter Sagan (riding with the Tinkoff race team) didn't win his first stage of the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race until the fourth day. He then took the overall lead on the sixth day, lost it on the seventh, and then won the closest finish in the tour's history on the eighth and final day. This year, Sagan didn't wait.
Sunday's stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour in San Diego began with a breakaway, which started as seven riders, but then dwindled to three and then to two.
The peloton caught the pair with about two miles remaining.
Then, as the race teams prepared to provide convoys to their riders, Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team ) of the Netherlands and Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto NL - Jumbo) also of the Netherlands jumped to the outside and raced for the line. Sagan was late on the jump, but weaved through traffic and passed both riders on the left just in time.
After the race, Sagan said, “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,”
Because of a bonus awarded during the breakaway, Michael Sheehan (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) of the United States is in third place overall -four seconds behind. Groenewegen is in fourth- six seconds back. Daniel Eaton (United Healthcare) of the United States is fifth overall, seven seconds behind.
Stage two will begin in Pasadena and end in Santa Clarita Monday. Like stage one, the second stage will feature a mix of sprints and climbs.
The 11th edition of the race is switching direction this year as it begins in Southern California and heads north, ending at the State Capitol a week from Sunday.
Kristen Kline is the President of the Amgen Tour. She says there's a reason Sacramento continues to get a stage.
"Expectations is exceeded every year with them, so we love coming back, even though Sacramento is a big city, you always feel you're in a smaller city because everybody is so supportive there," she says.
The race also includes a 130-mile ride from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe May 19, and a time trial in Folsom on May 20.