If you find a good spot to watch the Amgen Tour of California's 128 riders, it's entirely possible you'll miss seeing the eventual winner of the race as he whooshes by. That's because racing's stars -and its winners- are often shielded behind a wedge or a wall of teammates, waiting for the opportunity to strike in the part of the race that favors them most.
Mark Cavendish has 25 stage wins in the Tour de France and is the 2013 National Road Race champion. He says it's hard to win a stage -much less an entire tour- by going it alone.
"The most effective way to win is to sprint to not have to fight your way to the finish, he says. "Nowadays everybody in the peloton thinks they can do it and It becomes quite dangerous. The best way for you to win is to be delivered at the front and not have to fight your way. And to have the strongest guys, the fastest guys there, it makes my job easier. I just have to sprint to the end, you know?"
Which is exactly what Cavendish did in stage one of the 2014 Amgen, slipping by John Degenkolb with less than 100 yards to go. It's Cavendish' fourth Amgen stage win.
So, when you see the winner on the podium with the flowers and the smile and the crowd going crazy, remember, there are seven other guys who should be up there too.
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