The 10th anniversary of the Amgen Tour of California began big, with the longest ride of this year’s 8-stage race (126.2 miles) beginning and ending at the California State Capitol building in Sacramento where Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team’s Mark Cavendish (GBR) rocketed to his 10th stage win of the 2015 season.
A site of some of the most well-attended stages and memorable sprinter shootouts in race history, including last year’s photo finish that Cavendish (GBR) claimed over John Degenkolb (GER) by less than 1/4 of an inch, the rider from the Isle of Man won his sixth overall stage and second consecutive Sacramento stage win.
An early breakaway of four riders lasted most of the nearly five hour day of racing, with the gap approaching 7 minutes early on. The 143 cyclists representing 18 teams from around the world ambled through nearby small towns, over dirt and gravel roads – which led to mechanical issues for some and a withdrawal from a local favorite – and made several river crossings on today’s beautiful course, including two passes over the iconic Tower Bridge.
Photos © Darrell Parks
The halfway point of the race saw the gap steadily closing, down to 5 minutes, with Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team continuing to set the peloton’s pace as they had for much of the ride, working early to position 25-time Tour de France stage winner Cavendish to take his sixth Amgen Tour of California win today, which ties him for second of all-time.
Drapac Professional Cycling’s William Clarke (AUS) and Team SmartStop’s Robert Sweeting (USA) were the last two standing in the breakaway as they approached the downtown Sacramento circuit. Clarke earned the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey for his role in the breakaway and claiming maximum points at every Sprint line up until the finish.
The final of three circuits saw Tinkoff-Saxo leading the field with Amgen Tour of California stage win record holder (11) Peter Sagan (SVK) ready to pounce and Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team biding their time to lead out Cavendish. While other teams with sprinters in the hunt for the stage win worked to get their men in position, no one was a match today for Cavendish and his teammate Mark Renshaw (AUS), who delivered him decisively over the finish ahead of Sagan, also putting him at the top of the Sprint classification.
Some of the most decorated sprinters in the sport are racing in the 2015 Amgen Tour of California. With several stages primed to deliver jaw-dropping sprint performances, today’s result sets up a battle for the overall green jersey, which Sagan has won five years running. Cavendish won the overall green jersey six years ago.
STAGE 1 PODIUM
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
2. Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
3. Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX), BMC Racing Team
STAGE 1 JERSEY WINNERS
Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Visit California Sprint Jersey: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey: William Clarke (AUS), Drapac Professional Cycling
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Zico Waeytens (BEL), Team Giant-Alpecin
TRIXI WORRACK UNLEASHES MASTERFUL RIDE TO CLAIM AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
One More Chance to Cheer on Elite Women Cyclists at May 15 Invitational Time Trial in Big Bear Lake
With the leaders separated by only seconds after two days of racing, the first 3-day, 3-stage Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM came to a thrilling conclusion with Velocio-SRAM’s Trixi Worrack (GER) posting a powerful ride to claim the title of the UCI-sanctioned event as the first-ever Amgen Tour of California women’s road race champion.
On a day when the overall race leader changed three times, Stage 3, presented by Visit California, featured a fast and flat six-corner circuit course around California’s State Capitol Building in downtown Sacramento. Designed as a sprinter’s delight, the race leaders had to push hard to defend their positions, as the 65 cyclists still standing battled for every available Sprint point during a 17 lap all-out race totaling 34 miles.
With only seconds separating overall times for the race leaders, every point awarded in today’s four Sprint opportunities made a difference as to who would end the day wearing the yellow overall winner’s jersey. Worrack, the 2013 German National Road Race Champion who placed third yesterday, went hard for the win and swept the first three of four Sprints. This incredible feat put her at a 6-second advantage leading to the final laps.
But with the biggest time bonuses of the day at the finish, it was still anyone’s race. Velocio-SRAM was on the front for the last lap to defend Worrack’s position, finally giving way to a bunch sprint across the line. To the backdrop of crowds roaring, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Leah Kirchmann (CAN) claimed the stage for the second day in a row, but Worrack’s performance today paid off in yellow as she was crowned the inaugural Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM champion.
“It was such a really nice race, especially with the organization,” Worrack. “It was a really nice [Amgen] Tour of California. The first two stages were really hard for us because it was at altitude and today was a crit, also really hard. But with lots of spectators, it was really good.”
Kirchmann ended second overall, as well as walking away with the Visit California Sprint Jersey.
“I’ve had an amazing time racing the Amgen Tour of California this week,” said Kirchmann. “It really means a lot for women’s cycling that the organizers have stepped it up and held an internationally sanctioned race with such a quality field. The venues were spectacular this week. The crowds were enthusiastic and big every day. And I just can’t wait to return to this race next year. It’s been awesome!”
Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air’s Lauren Komanski (USA), the only rider of the top three overall to podium every day, earned third place overall and Oakland, Calif. resident Katie Hall (USA), the race leader after day one, finished in fourth place for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
With no Queen of the Mountain (QOM) points today, the climbing jersey remains with Canada National Team’s Kirsti Lay (CAN). Hannah Barnes (GBR), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, catapulted to second place for today’s stage and cemented the SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey, which she’s worn since day one. Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air will go home with the team honors.
2015 WOMEN’S RACE GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Trixi Worrack (GER), Velocio-SRAM (6h24’16”)
2. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (:5)
3. Lauren Komanski (USA), Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air (:6)
Best team: Twenty16 p/b Sho-Air
2015 WOMEN’S RACE JERSEY WINNERS
Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Trixi Worrack (GER), Velocio-SRAM
Visit California Sprint Jersey: Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Lexus Queen of the Mountain Jersey: Kirsti Lay (CAN), Canada National Team
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Hannah Barnes (GBR), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
STAGE 3 PODIUM
1. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
2. Hannah Barnes (GBR), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
3. Erica Allar (USA), Colavita|Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking