Carpenter's day in the breakaway on the flat-but-windy course that started and finished in the state capitol of Sacramento earned the 23-year-old from Philadelphia the final Cyclingnews rider of the day honours.
Carpenter infiltrated a seven-rider group that got away early in the pancake-flat 138km stage that was buffeted throughout the day by winds that howled across the agricultural lands along the Sacramento River.
The nervous peloton didn't give the leaders much leash during the stage, but Carpenter and his breakaway companions soldiered on, yo-yoing back and forth as the gap would go down and come up back down again.
The breakaway made it all the way onto the 3.5km finishing circuits with a 30-second gap, and Carpenter was one of the last riders caught, along with Krists Nielands (Axeon Hagens Berman), as they neared the final kilometre.
"Usually at these kind of races my M.O. is to get in a long break, and that's how I win stages, by sprinting from a smaller breakaway, and I really struggled to do that this week until today," he told Cyclingnews in the finishing straight of stag 8. "That's partly because I was trying to save a little bit for the time trial, because I knew I could do a good ride there. I was 13th. I wanted to be in the top 10, but I was happy doing that. And I guess I ended up 17th on GC, which is surprising for me, so I'm happy with it."
Pat Malach says:
"Carpenter is so often in the breakaway at big races, that it's become a joke to say that if he wasn't in the breakaway, did the race really happen? The team's director, Thomas Craven, says that Carpenter likes to rack up points in the classifications – any classification – and getting into breakaways is the best way to do that. His stage win at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge came from a long breakaway on a cold and muddy run-in to Crested Butte. Carpenter's absence from the moves this week seemed odd, but he remedied the situation during the final stage on Sunday and came within 1km of vying for another stage win in one of America's biggest races."