Peter Sagan (Cannondale) extended his Tour of California stage win record to 10 with a sprint victory in Santa Rosa, and in doing so secured his fourth-consecutive points classification victory in the race. The Slovakian champion showed his competitors a clean set of wheels on the breakneck dash to the line at the end of two quick, technical downtown circuits that capped off the 129.9km stage.
"I'm really happy to have won today," Sagan said. "Thank you to all of my teammates who did very good work from the start of the stage."
Cannondale showed a strong presence at the front of the peloton as they entered the circuits, having absorbed the three-man break that led for most of the stage, but then took a back seat to Garmin Sharp, who was working for stage 4 winner Tyler Farrar. Had Farrar won, he would have taken the green jersey, but Sagan was ushered to the front at just the right moment before the final turn.
"After the team helped me get to the front, and after the last left turn I was on the front and started my sprint and won, and I'm very happy," Sagan said. "I'd like to dedicate this win to one of the Cannondale friends," he said, referring to an 11-year-old boy, Alex Shepherd from Oregon, who is also a bike racer and a friend of the Cannondale team and is battling a brain tumor.
One rider who has been instrumental in the Sagan's success at the Tour of California over the past three years was American Ted King, who worked to bring back the three-rider breakaway on a short, fast stage.
"It's always nice to end on a high note," King said. "It was a short but super-hard stage today. The three guys got a pretty significant gap. We were rotating straight away, and we were rotating quickly and the gap was going up. That just meant we had to rotate significantly harder."
For Sagan the win was further confirmation that his form is back on the upswing after his post-Classics break, and with less than two months before his Tour de France green jersey defense.
"I'm more relaxed because my condition is coming for the Tour de France," Sagan said. "I did this race also last year, and I feel good for the Tour de France, and I think it's good preparation."