Cavendish Sprints to Stage 2 Victory in Amgen Tour of California 2015
Photo finish decides Tour of California stage 2 battle between Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan.
The end of the 193.7 kilometer stage 2 of Amgen Tour of California 2015, which took the riders from Nevada City to Lodi, culminated in a headwind bike-throw-battle between sprint aces Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo). The battle was won by Cavendish, who took his second stage win in two days.
The Etixx - QuickStep team spent much of the stage at the front of the peloton, controlling the race for the British rider in the yellow jersey. Cavendish eventually won by about a quarter of a wheel. Drapac Professional Cycling's Wouter Wippert finished third.
Thanks to the relentless chasing of strong all-rounders from various teams, the peloton eventually re-grouped with 4.4 kilometer to go in anticipation of a predicted bunch sprint finish. The day's original breakaway group of four riders had been reduced to three just before it was caught.
Cavendish's teammates Matteo Trentin, Julian Alaphilippe, and Mark Renshaw were then left to guide the Manx Missile into optimal position for the sprint. Alaphilippe took an extended pull starting at about two kilometers to go. Mark Renshaw then brought Cavendish behind the two remaining riders of Tinkoff-Saxo and proved able to protect his teammate from the wind going inside the final kilometer by sitting on the wheel of one of the Tinkoff Bank - Saxo Bank riders. In the final meters leading up to the sprint, Sagan stayed on the wheel of Cavendish before other sprinters initiated their sprints.
Following stage 2 Cavendish leads Amgen Tour of California by 8 seconds over Sagan, and 11 seconds over Robin Carpenter of Hincapie Racing Team.
A general classification shakeup following tomorrow's stage 3 is likely as the 169.8 kilometer route is of hilly nature and includes Mt. Hamilton in San Jose. Mt. Hamilton is steep and the descent is technical. The stage concludes with a short, but steep uphill finish with gradients of more than ten percent.
"It was a bit nervous," Cavendish explained to Roadcycling.com after being celebrated on the podium.
"[Our team] was the team that rode on the front most of the day again. Tinkoff-Saxo put one rider in front to help with the chase, but this still meant we were really short in riders at the end. There was only four of us at the end with Matteo Trentin, Julian Alaphilippe, and Mark Renshaw in front of me. We were the only guys in the last laps who hadn't been riding. Against teams with eight fresh riders, instead of four, it was always going to be hard," Cavendish complained
"Going into the last corner Sagan made sure he was ahead of me, but I was happy to be on his wheel. I took a quick glance and I saw a Drapac rider come up. I tried to go around, but was a bit closed in. I didn't give up and I went again. On the left I noticed Sagan had the slipstream of the Drapac rider and into the headwind that was a massive advantage. I knew he'd get the slingshot."
"At the line I wasn't sure if I got it. But I'm happy I could get the win after the hard work of Etixx - Quick-Step today. Tomorrow's stage 3 is a mountain stage, so it will be a different story for the stage and likely also the general classification. But we won two stages in a row here at Amgen Tour of California in stages that we came here to win. We defended the yellow jersey as we wanted today. We'll do our best tomorrow and see if there are other chances for victories in the next days," Cavendish concluded.
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