Drapac Professional Cycling came close to their first win Wednesday at the Tour of California. At Wednesday's stage between Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, Wouter Wippert followed Graeme Brown in the run up to the finish. Wippert was one gear off and could not match Peter Sagan's (Tinkoff-Saxo) acceleration in the final sprint.
The final sprint was captured on a Go-Pro that was installed on the back of Brown's saddle.
"Yeah, that was really cool to see that back on the camera. I lost his wheel with one kilometre to go," said Wippert about the final sprint. "I had to go outside, and I came back on Sagan so that was actually perfect. But, we knew it was a like a short finish after the last corner and it was just too short to get past Sagan, it is what it is."
It has been a successful season for Wippert. The Dutch rider already has three victories this season, one from the Santos Tour Down Under, and two from the Tour de Taiwan. It was Wippert's second close call at the TOC. Wippert placed third behind Cavendish and Sagan on stage two between Nevada City and Lodi.
Part of the team's success is their improving sprint train. Former Rabobank/Belkin rider Graeme Brown has helped organise the team for Wippert at the end of the race.
"With Brownie we have some really good experience, and he is teaching the younger guys how to do it and that works really good," said Wippert. "We are coming closer and hopefully we can take the first spot this week somewhere."
The team has been opportunistic throughout the week. William Clarke joined Sunday's early break and sucked up all the intermediate sprint points. The effort nabbed Clarke the first sprint jersey of the week.
"I managed to get the three sprints on offer and tied with Mark Cavendish on the sprints points for the moment, so I'm happy about that," said Clarke at the start of stage two. Clarke didn't hold onto the jersey Monday, but the team put Wippert in position to contest the sprint with Sagan and Cavendish in Lodi.
The team feels they have the capability to go head to head with Etixx-Quick Step and Tinkoff-Saxo. The only question is if they compete with the deep European squads.
"Our physical ability is up there and we are as equally as strong. We have the ability to time it right and use our strength," said Travis Meyer. "We don't have the numbers as they do. We do what we do best. We have to think to how to maximize our power."
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