Mark Cavendish Blasts to Sprint Win in 2010 Tour of California Stage 1

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05/17/2010| 0 comments
by Thomas A. Valentinsen

Mark Cavendish Blasts to Sprint Win in 2010 Tour of California Stage 1

Mark Cavendish takes overall lead in 2010 Amgen Tour of California; US Champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team) smashes back and helmet in crash.

Tour of California- Stage 1

Mark Cavendish takes overall lead in 2010 Amgen Tour of California; US Champion George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team) smashes back and helmet in crash.

Under sunny skies, the 2010 Amgen Tour of California kicked off to the roaring cheers of cycling fans from around the world in the picturesque town of Nevada City. In an exciting sprint to the finish, Team HTC-Columbia's Mark Cavendish (GBR) grabbed his third stage win in the history of the race after three high-speed circuits around the State's Capitol building in Sacramento. Cavendish was followed by Juan Jose "JJ" Haedo (ARG) of Team Saxo Bank in second and Team BMC Racing's Norwegian Alexander Kristoff in third.

The 167.8 kilometer stage to Sacramento took the riders through Grass Valley and across the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California and the third highest in the U.S. A mostly downhill stage, which certainly favored the sprinters, the route also included a grueling climb from the American River to the town of Cool. The point-to-point race from Nevada City to Sacramento was a change from the previous edition's opening prologue.

In the first big move of the day Maarten Tjallingii (NED) of Rabobank, Chad Beyer (USA) of Team BMC Racing, Mark De Maar (NED) of United Healthcare Presented by Maxxis and Paul Mach (USA) of Team BISSELL broke away from the pack and quickly gained a one minute gap on the field. In a short-lived attempt to catch the breakaway, three riders formed a chase, but were quickly swallowed up by the peloton. After only 20 minutes, the breakaway's lead grew to more than two and a half minutes and eventually expanded to more than five minutes, giving the group a considerable lead over the pack, which was led for the majority of the race by Team HTC-Columbia's strong men.

"Our strategy was to ride aggressively and try to get in the breakaway. That was goal number one and it worked out," said Team Bissell's Mach.

The first sprint at Meadow Vista was won by Tjallingii, ahead of Mach with DeMaar in third. At 1 km from the KOM climb on Highway 49, De Maar and Mach attacked the other two riders in the break and then Mach soloed away to take the KOM, followed by De Maar. After a descent of four miles at an average speed of 38 mph and a mostly downhill finish into Sacramento, the break of four riders came back together, but was swallowed up as they head for the three finishing circuits around the State Capitol building.

Amgen Tour of California

Two crashes during the finishing circuits took some of the race favorites out of contention for this stage, including Tom Boonen (BEL) of QuickStep, leaving Cavendish in the perfect position to take the stage and the overall lead heading into day two of the race.

"I'm really happy," a relieved Cavendish said after the stage. "I thought it was going to be a bunch sprint and the team controlled it perfectly. When you've got eight guys giving 100% and all trusting each other it just works. Only

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