Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan (SVK), who has posted second place finishes in each of the race’s first three stages, finally earned a first place finish at today’s Stage 4 of the 10th anniversary Amgen Tour of California. The victory brings his record for career wins at the race to 12 over rival sprinter Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team, who now tallies 7 stage wins after winning the 2015 race’s first two stages.
Presented by SRAM, the Stage 4 start in Pismo Beach and finish in Avila Beach were only about 7 miles apart, but the 107.6-mile course between the two beachfronts treated riders to coastal breezes, strawberry fields and plenty of California Central Coast countryside.
Approaching the first sprint in Guadalupe, four riders flew off front including William Clarke (AUS) of Drapac Professional Cycling, who also spent day one in the breakaway, and Gregory Daniel (USA), a young cyclist for Axeon Cycling Team. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s four-time African Time Trial Champion Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI) gave chase near the second sprint and remained with the breakaway until they were caught just under the 100-mile mark.
Photos © Darrell Parks
Around the halfway mark after the only King of the Mountain (KOM) climb of the day where riders gained more than 1,000 feet of elevation in 4.7 miles on the Category 3 climb, the gap was at 2:30 with Hincapie Racing Team and Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team pacing the peloton through the countryside.
Daniel took the first three sprints and tried to make a solo run to the finish with about 24 kilometers to go, reminiscent of the last time the Amgen Tour of California ended in Avila Beach in 2013, when 2015 Race Ambassador Jens Voigt rode solo to his last win as a professional cyclist.
After stunning the peloton and holding his lead for several miles, 20-year-old Daniel ultimately was pulled back into the peloton as teams began jockeying to put their sprinters into play for a finish line shootout. A flutter of activity in the peloton saw Tinkoff-Saxo and Sagan push their way to the front, trailed closely by Cavendish.
BMC Racing Team’s Daniel Oss (ITA), who gained notice yesterday riding in the breakaway, surprised the assemblage of sprinters by bolting ahead of everyone at the 1 kilometer mark. Drapac Professional Cycling’s Wouter Wippert (NED) responded along with Sagan and Cavendish, who were several positions back. Wippert looked as though he might take the stage in the final meters, but Sagan catapulted past them over the finish line, earning his first stage win after three consecutive days finishing second. Cavendish followed in third.
The only movement on the leader board from today is that Sagan’s performance puts him 10 seconds closer to the general classification leader, now back :22 from Hincapie Racing Team’s Toms Skujins (LAT), who retains the Amgen Race Leader Jersey for another day.
“The team rode brilliantly, so I just had to sit back and relax and enjoy the day,” said Skujins, adding that his team will defend the yellow jersey as long as they can.
STAGE 4 PODIUM
1. Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
2. Wouter Wippert (NED), Drapac Professional Cycling
3. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
STAGE 4 JERSEY WINNERS
Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Toms Skujins (LAT), Hincapie Racing Team
Visit California Sprint Jersey: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Lexus King of the Mountain Jersey: Toms Skujins (LAT), Hincapie Racing Team
Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey: Gregory Daniel (USA), Axeon Cycling Team
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team