The overall jersey winners: Pat McCarty, Peter Sagan, Chris Horner, Tejay Van Garderen and Jan Barta
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Seven stages of tightly-fought battles
The Amgen Tour of California awarded the Herbalife Sprint Jersey, the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey, and the Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey on Sunday in Thousand Oaks. Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale won the sprint classification, Pat McCarty of SpiderTech-C10 won the mountains prize, and Tejay van Garderen of HTC-Highroad won the white jersey for Best Young Rider. Jan Bartá won the final Breakaway From Cancer Most Courageous award of this year's race.
The sprint jersey rewards the most consistent sprinter. Peter Sagan won the stage in Paso Robles, placed second in Sacramento, placed fourth in Modesto, and second in Thousand Oaks. Though Team Sky dominated the opening two stages with Ben Swift and Greg Henderson, neither of the team's sprinters could match Sagan's consistency. "I'm very happy to have been able to come to the Tour of California," said Sagan after Sunday's stage. "With a stage win and the points jersey, I'm very satisfied."
In the mountains classification, Pat McCarty began his campaign for the California Travel & Tourism King of the Mountains Jersey by winning the hors catègorie Mount Hamilton climb. The following day, he joined the early breakaway on the road from Seaside to Paso Robles. His teammate Svein Tuft helped him make it across, and McCarty spent the day in a tight battle with Jesse Anthony for the mountains points.
Saturday's Queen Stage proved decisive for the mountains jersey, and again, McCarty joined the early break and scooped up the points along the road. "It's a really great race. For me as a climber, it's a really big deal for me and a really big deal for my SpiderTech team. For my sponsor, it feels really good to be able to do this for them. It feels really good to win this KOM jersey," McCarty said of the prize.
The Best Young Rider's Jersey, meanwhile, proved one of the more closely-fought battles of the race. Garmin-Cervélo's Andrew Talansky, who has previously won the Young Riders' classification at the Tour de Romandie, took an early lead with an impressive ride on Sierra Road where he finished ninth. His rival Tejay van Garderen of HTC-Highroad had a rough day on the first hilltop finish of the race when he went too hard too early. The following day, van Garderen overtook Talansky after the Garmin-Cervélo rider got caught behind a crash on the run-in to Paso Robles.
During the following two stages, the HTC-Highroad rider extended his lead. Van Garderen rode a scorching time trial in Solvang and placed third on the stage. On the Queen Stage to Mount Baldy, he held on to the lead group until late in the action and was among the last riders to be dropped by the torrid pace of RadioShack's Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer. Van Garderen finished seventh at 1:29 behind Leipheimer and Horner, and secured fifth in the general classification.
Talansky, meanwhile, went with the early break in support of his team's general classification riders on Sunday. His Garmin-Cervélo team-mate Tom Danielson finished third overall. The hard day in the break meant an end to Talansky's individual ambitions in the general classification and he slipped to 17th. He said before the final stage that supporting his teammates for the general classification was his priority. Garmin-Cervélo took home the team prize in addition to Tom Danielson's podium position.
Van Garderen said at the outset that he came to this year's Amgen Tour of California to win. "The goal could either be to do well or to win and I'm going to try to win. If I fail then I fail," he said at the race's opening press conference. Van Garderen finished fifth overall in the general classification.
"We brought a young American Tejay van Garderen here, and we put a lot of pressure on him to grow and to compete with these great athletes. And we're really pleased with his progress. He's a rider for the future, and I hope he can follow in the footsteps of Levi and Chris. I think people ought to be really excited for cycling in the United States, and this was a great showcase for that," said HTC-Highroad owner Bob Stapleton on Sunday.
The Amgen Breakaway From Cancer Most Courageous Rider award each day rewarded a rider who went out on the attack. On the final day, Jan Bartá won his second Most Courageous Jersey award for day out in the breakaway. "The beginning was quite fast, and a lot of riders wanted to be in the front group," he said of Sunday's stage to Thousand Oaks.
Bartá also won the award for his ride in the break during Tuesday's stage from Auburn to Modesto. On Saturday's Queen Stage, Alexander Efimkin attacked from the break and was the last rider to be caught by Horner and Leipheimer. Likewise, Ryder Hesjedal won the Most Courageous Award for his attack on Sierra Road.