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Tour of California 2015: Stage 1

 Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 1 of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California.

The race is still about 40 minutes from the start here in downtown Sacramento, an the teams are beginning to arrive for their warm ups.

The race is still about 40 minutes from the start here in downtown Sacramento, and the teams are beginning to arrive for their warm ups.

The 203.1km open tin stage will be a pancake flat affair that starts in front of the state capitol and finishes in the same place. 

There are three intermediate sprints today that feature time bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 second for the top three. There are also time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds at the finish.

The first sprint comes in Walnut Grove, 53.2km into the race. Sprint 2 is in Isleton, 68.5km in, and sprint 3 will take place in West Sacramento at the 187.9km mark.

 

The 203.1km open tin stage will be a pancake flat affair that starts in front of the state capitol and finishes in the same place. 

There are three intermediate sprints today that feature time bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 second for the top three. There are also time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds at the finish.

The first sprint comes in Walnut Grove, 53.2km into the race. Sprint 2 is in Isleton, 68.5km in, and sprint 3 will take place in West Sacramento at the 187.9km mark.

 

Mark Cavendish won a similar stage here last year, beating John Degenkolb by a mere three millimetres. Cavendish is back again this year and looking to add to the five stages he's won here previously. You can read more about Cavendish and Etixx-QuickStep in California here.

The inaugural three-day Tour of California women's race has been taking place the past two days in Lake Tahoe. The race concludes today with a circuit race in downtown Sacramento after the men's race departs. You can check out all of Cyclingnews' coverage of the women's race here. 

 

Over in Italy today, crashes marred stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia. The crashes caused several splits in the peloton, writes Stephen Farrand, forcing the Cannondale-Garmin and Ag2r-La Mondiale teams to chase for team leaders Ryder Hesjedal and Domenico Pozzovivo. Hesjedal made back into the peloton and did not lose time but Pozzovivo lost 1:09 and slipped to 1:57 down in the overall. You can read more about it here.

 

Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan is the most prolific stage winner in the 10-year history of the Tour of California. The young Slovakian has won 11 stages here, but his week got off to a rough start when team owner Oleg Tinkov had some critical things to say about Sagan in his Cyclingnews blog.

Sagan was asked about the comments at the pre-ace press conference. You can read his response here.

 

Stage 1 of the Tour of California has started. The riders are off for a 3km neutral roll out.

 

 

 

Cannondale-Garmin's Andrew Talansky is back in California for the first time since 2012. He lives in Napa now and considers this his home race. You can read more about Talansky here.

 

It's a windy start today, but riders are starting out fast trying to establish an early breakaway. Last year on this course, strong winds caused a split of about 30 riders late in the race, forcing QuickStep to work hard to weld things back together for the sprint.

 

Team Sky's Elia Viviani was the winner of today's field sprint in Italy. You can read about how the stage played out here.

 

Four riders have a slight advantage on the field. We'll get numbers shortly.

 

The breakaway riders are William Clarke of Drapac, Steve Fisher of Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Rob Britton of SmartStop and his teammate Bobby Sweeting. The gap is over a minute now.

 

194km remaining from 204km

The gap has grown to more than two minutes.

 

One of the riders in this breakaway, Rob Britton, recently won the overall at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. You can read about Britton's win here.

 

Britton's teammate, Bobby Sweeting, owns a company that sponsors the domestic elite amateur team called Alto Velo. You can read more about Sweeting and the team here.

 

While Viviani took today's stage win in Italy, Orica-GreenEdge's Michael Matthews earned the Maglia Rosa. You can read about his day here.

 

The breakaway is getting some real traction now. The gap has ballooned to 3:10.

 

180km remaining from 204km

The race is 27km away from the first sprint of the day, and the gap has gone up to four minutes. QuickStep has summed its position on the front for Cavendish.

 

Ben Jacques-Maynes started his 10th Tour of California today. The California native is the only rider to start all 10 editions of the race. Cyclingnews spoke with him this morning before the start.

"I’m just relaxed. I’ve been here before, I’ve done it before. I’m looking to have a fun tour. We have really good team plans and really good teammates for me to work for. We have good opportunities to ride breakaways and show off the Jamis-Hagens Berman 10th anniversary bike that Jamis made for me.

"I am really looking forward to seeing some people I know out on the road in California. I’m going to gain a lot of confidence and strength from each and every one."

 

The gap to the four breakaway riders has gone up to nearly seven minutes. QuickStep must have a lot of confidence it can bring the escapees back on this flat stage.

The four breakaway riders are William Clarke (Drapac), Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly-Maxxis), Rob Britton (SmartStop) and Bobby Sweeting (SmartStop)

 

The women's race is currently underway on the streets of downtown Sacramento. BMW-Happy Tooth is doing a lot of work on the front.

 

Cavendish has his top leadout man here in California, and Cyclingnews spoke with mark Renshaw before the start. 

"It looks good. It looks like a normal sprint stage. We have a little bit of dirt there somewhere during the stage. It should be normal day at the office. I’m happy with the sun and happy with a little bit of wind."

 

The dirt section Renshaw was talking about comes at 80.5km into the stage and lasts for several kilometres.

 

Team Sky's Ian Boswell is in California again this year after helping Bradley Wiggins win the overall last year. The American rider is looking for his own opportunities in the race this year. You can read more about Boswell here.

 

154km remaining from 204km

The gap is holding now at 6:40 as the race heads toward Walnut Grove.

 

It looks like William Clarke has taken the first intermediate spent ahead of Britton and Sweeting. Clarke will get a three-second time bonus for his effort. Britton will get two and Sweeting one.

 

Back in Italy, Trek Factory Racing's Eugenio Alafaci blamed a spectator on a fixed gear for causing a crash with 10km to go, and he had some angry words for the person. You can read more about it here

 

With both Fisher and Sweeting from the US and Britton from Canada, Clarke is the only non-North American rider in today's breakaway. The 30-year-old Drapac rider has won stages at the Tour Down Under, the Tour of Japan, the Herald and Sun Tour, the Tour of Iran and Tour de Kumano.

 

137km remaining from 204km

The gap continues to hold steady at 6:15 for the four escapees.

 

Of today's stage win in Italy, Elia Viviani said “Greipel was the strongest but I was the smartest.” You can read more from Viviani here.

 

Rob Britton is a surprise member of the breakaway today. The Canadian is a talented climber and time trialist and could figure into the general classification or the Mt. Baldy stage. SmartStop team director Michael Creed tells Cyclingnews that he thinks Britton was just covering early moves for the sprinters and ended up in the move that stuck.

 

We're getting news that Leah Kirchmann (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the final stage of the women's race.

 

The men are through the second intermediate sprint, and Clarke has won again.

1. Clarke (Drapac)
2. Britton (SmartStop) 
3. Fisher (JellyBelly-Maxxis)
 

 

You can check here soon for full results and report from the women's race.

 

79km remaining from 204km

The gap to the breakaway in the men's race has dipped down now to 5:35.

 

127km remaining from 204km

The gap to the breakaway in the men's race has dipped down now to 5:35.

 

Fast Freddie Rodriguez is starting his last Tour of California. The 41-year-old Jelly Belly rider will retire at the end of the season. Cyclingnews spoke with him this morning before the start.

"It’s my last Tour of California. My retirement year. I’m excited. I’m here to do well but to also enjoy this. It’s a beautiful sport. It’s done a lot for me in my life. It’s an opportunity for me to just look around and enjoy the process.

"I’m going to start trying from today. The goal, it is in my mind. I told the guys yesterday we can win this. We can get on the podium. We all have the strength and the character, and the guys have been working really hard the last couple of months to get ready for this, and it is now time to step it up."

 

117km remaining from 204km

The current gap is just over five minutes as the race approaches the halfway point and the dirt section at 86.9km into the race.

 

Team SmartStop is reporting that Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Garmin) is pulling out of the race. No conformation yet from race radio.

It's official: Talansky has abandoned. 

 

100km remaining from 204km

The leaders have turned into a headwind now, and the gap is down to 3:15.

 

Among the Giant-Alpecin riders in today's race is neo-pro Carter Jones, the former Optum rider who was 11th in California last year. Jones' week got off to a rough start when he was involved in a crash while training on a bike path. Cyclngnews spoke with him before the start.

"I took a little spill yesterday. It was an unfortunate moment, but i’m getting past it. I’m a bit banged and bruised, but hopefully today is not too bad and Wednesday is calm and I can ride into the week here.

"I’m just really psyched to be back racing in America. We have Lawson Craddock, who was third last year. We have Warren Barguil, a super, super climber. We are looking to be aggressive this week.

"I’ve always taken this race for granted being on domestic teams, and it’s my only race in America now so it means a lot more."

 

The gap is hanging around three minutes. QuickStep is likely feathering the throttle a bit so as not to bring the escapees back too soon.

 

82km remaining from 204km

The next intermediate sprint is coming up in West Sacramento, just 15.2km from the finish. Clarke has won both previous sprints and has accumulated six seconds in time bonuses, but the winner of the stage will get a 10-second bump.

 

Another young rider with big ambitions for this week is James Oram, who rides for Axel Merckx's Axeon development team. Oram had some tough luck in last year's race after crashing and breaking his collarbone. Cyclingnews spoke to him this morning.

 

"I'm looking forward to getting the week started. Looks like it will be fairly windy out there, which could make things decisive, but it’s still early in the race. Most likely it will come down to a sprint.

 

"The team is looking good, everyone is fit, everyone is healthy, everyone is gelling really well. Everyone is excited. It will be really cool to put ourselves on display with the big teams." 

 

We've received word from Cannondale-Garmin about why Andrew Talansky abandoned. Marya Pongrace, the team's communications director said Talansky was forced to abandon today due to an unfortunate combination of allergies and upper respiratory infection.

"He was highly motivated for his home race, so of course this is a huge disappointment for him," Pongrace said.

 

64km remaining from 204km

The gap has dropped below three minutes now. QuickStep is pulling on the front with help from Tinkoff.

 

Rob Britton has dipped out od the breakaway, leaving Fisher, Clarke and Sweeting to soldier on without him.

 

47km remaining from 204km

With Britton out of the group, the gap continues to come down. The escapees have 2:30 with 47km remaining.

42km remaining from 204km

The gap continues to come down and is just over two minutes now.

 

The loss of Talansky will come as a big blow to Cannnondale-Garmin. We spoke with his teammate Alex Howes before the stage today, and he said the team was ready to race.

 

"We’ve got all the details ironed out and are ready to race. We have a pretty young team, and that should potentially help us in the sprints.

 

"I’m feeling good to be back in America. I’m not expecting a whole lot out of myself this week, and I”m looking forward to U.S. nationals at the end of the month."

 

34km remaining from 204km

The gap has shrunk to 1:15 now. The wind appears to have subsided a bit, and it looks like Cavendish will get an opportunity to add another stage win in Sacramento.

Full results from the women's race are posted now. You can see them here.

 

#AmgenTOC10th mechanical for @theo_bos but he is back in the peloton now after a bike change. 33km to go, break at 1'15".

@TeamMTNQhubeka Sun, 10th May 2015 22:53:11

A moment ago we saw an Etixx-Quickstep rider on the front of the peloton, and fans might think, 'gee that looks a lot like Tom Boonen'. Well, it's not - it's Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, but he is Boonen's body double.

Boonen is racing in Italy, participating in the Giro d'Italia for the first time in his 15-year career.

26km remaining from 204km

The gap is coming down steadily now that Etixx-Quickstep is joining MTN-Qhubeka and Tinkoff-Saxo in pulling. Novo Nordisk is also trying to get to the front.

The leaders have only 1:30 at last check, 26km to race.

Whoops! We have a Jelly Belly rider who slid off the road into the ditch. Luckily SRAM neutral support is right there to help him out. It's Jonathan Freter, who was in the peloton. He's not hurt.

Freter will face a long chase through the team cars after getting a wheel change. The officials will hopefully look the other way as he drafts off the cars on his way back to the bunch. The peloton is not going flat out, so he shouldn't have too much trouble getting back in.

20km remaining from 204km

The gap is down to just a minute now as the peloton approaches town for three 3.2km closing circuits.

The riders will have 9.6km remaining once they are on the circuits.

 

 

 

 Tyler Farrar is back in the peloton after chasing back on after a mechanical.

189km remaining from 204km

The gap between the three man break and the peloton is down to 25 seconds now with the sprinters team upping the pace

 

15km remaining from 204km

The gap between the three man break and the peloton is down to 25 seconds now with the sprinters team upping the pace

 

The breakaway has made it onto the finishing circuit. They will do three laps before hitting the finish line

The break has been trimmed to two with Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) dropping away after the sprint point a few kilometres ago

 

MTN-Qhubeka hasn't had a great dat with mechanicals so far with Johann van Zyl also suffering a flat tyre

 

The peloton has the leading duo in their sights and its all coming back together now on the finishing circuit

 

6km remaining from 204km

Kiel Reijnen has launched an attack and tried to go solo buts its long way home from here

 

Tinkoff-Saxo have made their presence felt on the front of the peloton now with MTN-Qhubeka and Etixx-Quick Step also up there

 

6km remaining from 204km

Tinkoff-Saxo have made their presence felt on the front of the peloton now with MTN-Qhubeka and Etixx-Quick Step also up there

 

Lotto-Jumbo are also trying to get up the front for their sprinter Tom Van Asbroeck

 

3km remaining from 204km

Etixx-Quick Step are covering the front of the peloton now and its all for Mark Cavendish

 

Drapac are also showing themselves and will look to position Wouter Wippert in good position for the sprint

 

3km remaining from 204km

The peloton is getting vert strung out now and there are some riders struggling to hold wheel at the back

 

UnitedHealthcare and Giant-Alpecin are moving up and spreading across the road with Etixx-Quick Step on the left-hand side of the road

 

1km remaining from 204km

Flamme rouge! who will it be winning the opening stage?

 

That's an easy win for Mark Cavendish who takes the stage win ahead of Peter Sagan

 

Mark Cavendish takes his tenth career Tour of California stage win and will wear the first leaders jersey of the race after after Etixx-Quick Step controlled the final 10km of the stage and did their job to perfection

 

Results Results#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Etixx-Quick Step4:43:27  2Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo   3Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC   4John Murhpy (USA) Unitedhealthare   5Guillaume Boivin (Can)  

Results Results#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Etixx-Quick Step4:43:27  2Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo   3Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC   4John Murhpy (USA) Unitedhealthare   5Guillaume Boivin (Can)  

So Mark Cavendish now has ten wins for 2015 after his stage win today and will be looking to add a few more this week. He and Etixx-Quick Step really took control of the stage and bossed it all the way to the line. 

On GC, it's Mark Cavendish in yellow with Will Clarke (Drapac) in second place just one second in arrears after his breakaway efforts

 

Find our full race report by clicking here!

 

Here's the margin of victory for Mark Cavendish today

Fantastic work by his teammates! @MarkCavendish finishes it off with his 10th win of the season! #AmgenTOC10th pic.twitter.com/Lv8hYT99ul

Keep checking our race report from stage 1 right here as full results and photos roll in as well as all the reaction

Find our full race report by clicking here!

 

Find our full race report by clicking here!

 

Thanks for joining us for coverage of of the first stage of the Tour of California. We hope you enjoyed the stage and will join us again tomorrow for stage two from Nevada City to Lodi. 

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