The eighth and concluding stage of the 10th anniversary Amgen Tour of California could not have been any closer, with Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan (SVK) winning the race by two millimeters over 22-year-old SRAM Best Young Rider Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) of Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team.
After more than 700 miles and eight days of racing, the overall win came down to mere seconds, with the bonus time awarded at the finish line and one Sprint the deciding factors for the title. Sagan and Alaphilippe were separated by just two seconds when today’s 65.3-mile Stage 8, presented by Amgen, began at L.A. LIVE across from STAPLES Center.
Photos © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com
Sagan took on Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team’s Mark Cavendish (GBR) for the Sprint at the start of nine Rose Bowl Stadium circuits, and the first photo finish of the day saw maximum points going to Cavendish, with Sagan pulling within one second of Alaphilippe. But the young Frenchman was not to be counted out and picked up one second of his own by coming over the line third.
To pull off the overall victory, Sagan had to finish the stage in the top-3 and in front of Alaphilippe. The yellow jersey changed hands five times in eight days.
Coming to the finish, he was challenged by a field of impressive sprinters, with Cavendish (GBR) again crossing in first place. Sagan rocketed over the line just behind Drapac Racing Team’s Wouter Wippert (NED) and neck and neck with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s U.S. rider Tyler Farrar. Another photo finish decided the race – Sagan had claimed third for the day and the overall win by less than a tire rim. His overall time after eight days of racing was 28:13:12, just three seconds ahead of Alaphilippe.
“I believed about today, I can do it. I am very happy for this general classification victory today,” said 2015 Amgen Tour of California champion Sagan. “This year I lose the green jersey, and I had to do something to be on the podium!”
Sagan swaps the green jersey, which he has won for five years running, for yellow, with the Visit California Sprint Jersey going to Cavendish after his stage win today, his fourth of the week. Today’s win brings the 25-time Tour de France stage winner’s career California wins to nine, the second-most behind Sagan (13).
Today’s route wound from downtown Los Angeles’ famous sports and entertainment district L.A. LIVE to the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena where the riders completed nine 3.2-mile circuits at speeds nearing 40 mph. Last year’s race ended in Pasadena as well, with Sagan claiming the stage win.
Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team started the day at the front of the peloton. Belgian cyclist Yves Lampaert launched an early attack and was followed by four riders who gained :20 over the field in hopes of making Sagan’s team work hard to keep the overall contender in the game. Tinkoff-Saxo drove up the peloton’s pace to keep them in easy reach, bringing the field back together before the Sprint line.
Hincapie Racing Team’s Oscar Clark (USA) rode in a breakaway of four that formed entering the Pasadena circuits. He was the last standing when the peloton caught him with two laps left in the race, earning him the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
Two Americans finished in the overall top-10, including 23-year-old Joseph Dombrowski (Charlottesville, Va.) of Team Cannondale-Garmin in fourth place and yesterday’s Queen Stage third-place finisher Ian Boswell (Bend, Oregon) in seventh for Team Sky. Robert Gesink (NED), the 2012 Amgen Tour of California champion, placed fifth for Team LottoNL-Jumbo.
STAGE 8 PODIUM
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
2. Wouter Wippert (NED), Drapac Racing Team
3. Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
2015 AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA FINAL STANDINGS
1. 28:13:12 Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
2. +:03 Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
3. +:37 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (COL), Team Sky
4. +1:14 Joseph Dombrowski (USA), Team Cannondale-Garmin
5. +1:15 Robert Gesink (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
2015 AMGEN TOUR OF CALIFORNIA JERSEY WINNERS
- Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
- Visit California Sprint Jersey: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
- Lexus King of the Mountain Jersey: Daniel Oss (ITA), BMC Racing Team
- Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey: Oscar Clark (USA), Hincapie Racing Team
- SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Overall Team Classification – Team Sky (GBR)
Celebrating its 10th year, the Amgen Tour of California is the most esteemed stage race in the U.S.
“When we first set out to build America’s Greatest Race, we could only imagine being here 10 years later with the most thrilling race yet. Not only has the Amgen Tour of California become the largest sporting event in California, but it’s one of the most respected races in the world,” said Kristin Bachochin Klein, executive director of the race and senior vice president of AEG Sports. “Our thanks to everyone who has cheered, watched and worked alongside us this year, and over the past 10. Until next year!”