The Amgen Tour of California opener at Nevada City was won by Mark Cavendish of HTC-Columbia, witnessed by a large crowd cheering the 128 riders. Giving credit to his team, Cavendish slipped past Juan Jose Haedo of Saxo Bank and Alexander Kristoff of BMC.
Cavendish shares, “We took control of the race all day. There were a couple teams that helped and a couple inexperienced teams that took over, but we’re experienced and we knew when we had to take control. We got swamped a couple of times [toward the finish], but all I had to do was follow Renshaw’s wheel and cross the line first, really. If I’m delivered to the right place then I will cross the line first. The most satisfying thing about winning is knowing I can deliver to my team-mates who did the hard work.”
Taking fourth place was Robbie hunter of Garmin-Transition and Jonathan Cantwell of FlyV was fifth in the 167.8km race.
This win was only the third season win for the Brit. Cavendish explains that his goals were to show more in the Tour de France and at the UCI’s World Championships in October. Although his form was progressing, the start of the stage proved to be quite a challenge for him. “The course was hard. We were all saying to each other ‘this is supposed to be a sprint stage?’ But I can get over the climbs if I want to, and if there’s a chance you can smell the finish line, then with the help of the team you can get there. The pressure’s off for me now, from now on we’ll be looking at the GC. Mick Rogers is on some of the best form of his life, so hopefully we’ll get some more stage wins – not only from me.”
There were some crashes at the circuit and many cyclists were part of it. However, Cavendish and Haedo did not notice the break in the peloton. Haedo shares, “I was immediately behind HTC-Columbia train and was so focused on Cavendish’s wheel, I didn’t hear or see anything.”
As for Kristoff, his third place win was the biggest win yet in his career. “I’ve won my national championships, but this is the best result of my career, and I’m very pleased with that.”
Cavendish wore the overall leader’s yellow jersey due to the time bonus on the line.