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Tour of California 2018: Stage 1


And the race is off! 

It was a calm neutral zone, 2.5km, but the race has started and the attacks are already rolling off of the front of the field on the Long Beach circuit.


Two riders have cleared the field on the opening lap.


The two riders in the breakaway are Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko) and Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare).


This Tour of California is going to be a treat for those who like to see world-class sprinting.


The sprinters headline the race this year with world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).


The seven-day WorldTour race should provide three clear opportunities for the sprinters with today's stage, along with stages 5 and 7.


And then there is stage 3 at Laguna Seca Raceway, after a punchy route, might also be another opportunity for a bunch sprint.


You can read the full preview of the Tour of California, written by Pat Malach, here.

Katusha-Alpecin and Quick-Step Floors are taking up the reins at the front of the peloton in the early part of this stage.

119km remaining from 134km

Today's stage is held along the Pacific Coast in Long Beach with a 12-lap circuit race. The 134.5km stage is pan flat and so we should see a bunch sprint today.


The start and finish is held on Shoreline Drive. The peloton make a right turn to head east on Ocean Boulevard and then race along the coast before making a U-turn to head back along Ocean Boulevard.


Once they reach Bixby Park, though, the riders will then take a right onto Junipero Avenue, and head toward the downtown area. They will make left turns on E 4th Street and then Cherry Avenue, before turning right back onto Ocean Boulevard.


They will pass Shoreline Pine Avenue, and continue on to Pine Street, where they will turn left and loop back around the Rainbow Lagoon Park, and back onto Shoreline Drive.


There are two intermediate sprints located at the end of lap 4 and lap 8, for those riders looking for a special jersey.


Most of the top sprinters will have their eyes on the top prize, however, which is the stage win and the first overall leader's jersey.



106km remaining from 134km

Our two breakaway riders: Tanner Putt (UHC) and Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko) are holding a gap, as they see 10 laps to go.


With the exception of the stage 4 time trial in San Jose, all stages including today offer time bonuses to the top three finishers - 10, 6 and 4 seconds.


Intermediate sprints offer time bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 seconds.




101km remaining from 134km

Putt and Krasilnikau have just crossed under the finish line and are seeing nine laps to go. They have more than two minutes on the chasing field.


Putt is part of the UnitedHealthcare team, that came to the Tour of California with a goal of being in every breakaway.


The team's director Sebastian Alexandre told us ahead of the race -  "We will intend to take any opportunity we may have, to be in breakaways, to go for KOMs, and every year there is probably one stage that the break can make it, so we want to have good representation."


You can read the full story about UnitedHealthcare's goals for the Tour of California here.


Putt and Krasilnikau are holding a two and half minute gap on the field. When they cross through the finish line on the next lap, they will see the first intermediate sprint offering 3, 2 and 1 seconds in time bonuses for the top three places.



92km remaining from 134km

Katusha-Alpecin, Mitchelton-Scott and Quick-Step Floors all have a rider on the front. Their sprinters might look to pick up that third-place bonus, behind our two breakaway riders.


Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin) was in good spirits this afternoon. He spoke with Pat Malach at the start. Here is what he had to say about the flat stage in Long Beach.



[All in for Marcel today?]



No, we’re gonna go for Boswell (laughs). We’re going to try and put him up on GC early. You gotta get ahead of these guys, they're so fast.



[You must be looking forward to the Laguna Seca stage. You were third there in 2016?]



I was damn close last time we were there. I kicked off with a K to go and then still sprinted for third. I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach that day, but, yeah, it would be nice to give it another try. But the first goal really is to get stages with Marcel, and everything after that is secondary. We’re here for that.


If you know your history of the Tour of California, you already know that Long Beach has hosted a stage back in 2007.


That race, which was stage 7 of that edition, ended in a furious bunch sprint won by Cuban sprinter Ivan Dominguez, who now live on the outskirts of Los Angeles.


And it's Putt who takes the intermediate sprint along with the three seconds.


Krasilnikau grabs second place and two seconds in bonuses.


Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) sprints for the one second offered to the third placed rider. That may have been a test sprint for what's to come.


Cavendish had a rough spring with crashes at Abu Dhabi Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo. He is hoping to put all that behind him here in California.


"Coming back after such a crash at Milan-San Remo is not easy," Cavendish said on Friday at the Tour of California's pre-race press conference.


"I'm very happy to be back at the Amgen Tour of California. I was sad to have to watch on television last year, but I'm finally back again, and as always I'm glad we have a stage in Sacramento. I've won there every time I've been there in recent years, so that's kind of a nice finish to the race."


Read the full story here.


Cavendish picked up a point in that first of two intermediate sprints, along with the one second bonus second.


The finish of the race has the bulk of the points, to put toward the point classification, with 15 points for the winner, 12 for second place and nine for third.


The point breakaway down for the finish is as follows:

1st - 15 pts

2nd- 12 pts

3rd- 9 pts

4th- 7 pts

5th- 6 pts

6th- 5 pts

7th- 4pts

8th- 3 pts

9th- 2 pts

10th- 1 pts


74km remaining from 134km

Putt and Krasilnikau have lost some time as the gap dropped to a minute and half. 


They have seven laps to go.


Katusha-Alpecin are doing the bulk of the work but they are getting some assistance from Mitchelton-Scott and Quick-Step Floors.


72km remaining from 134km

Mitchelton-Scott's Caleb Ewan will want to win the stage today, and show is form against the world-class sprint field here in California.


His teammate Matthew Hayman spoke with Pat Malach at the start, here is what he had to say.



"Today's pretty straightforward. It's a good circuit for [Caleb Ewan]. Nice short stage to start off the tour. But it’s a who's who of sprinting at the moment, so it’s going to be a nice showdown, I reckon."



[Are lead-outs important today?]



"Yeah, yeah. I think like they always are now. With so many teams so well drilled the last few years it’s, uh, gone are the days where you just have one team pretty much and then a few sprinters floating off the back of that. Everyone seems pretty drilled, so it’s going to be a real race."


Sunweb and LottoNL-Jumbo have started with six riders each at the Tour of California.


Lenard Kamma was on Sunweb's provisional roster but did not start, while LottoNL only had six on provisional roster.


There's a good crowd out to watch the race in Long Beach. World champion Peter Sagan of the Bora-Hansgrohe team was mobbed at the start, of course.


He's a big favourite for the sprints this week, and California fans have claimed him as their own.


Sagan holds a record 16 stage wins at the Tour of California.



Putt's representation in the breakaway will take some pressure off of his faster teammates Travis McCabe and Sebastian Haedo, both looking for top places on the stage.


The team's director Sebastian Alexandre told Pat Malach at the start,


"We will try to go for Haedo and McCabe in the sprint. We know it’s going to be very difficult with so many WorldTour sprinters. I think there are six Tour de France stage contenders here. But we’ll give it a shot."



[Goals for the week?]



"Gavin [Mannion] is riding really well. He had a great Tour of the Gila, then rested and did Redlands as kind of an opener for here, so we’ll put some energy on him and Serghei [Tvetcov] for the TT. We’ll see how the race plays. We’re here to try and take any opportunity we have during the week."


65km remaining from 134km

Krasilnikau is taking a long turn on the front of the two-man move, and looks very strong. 


He's in his third year with the Holowesko team. In his career, he has picked up two national titles in the road race for Belarus.


He's spent some time overseas this spring racing at the Tour de Normandie and Tour of Croatia.


63km remaining from 134km

The two breakaway riders are holding 1:45 on the field.


BMC Racing's director Jackson Stewart was frank at the start of the race, saying they wouldn't waste energy in a breakaway, given all the number of sprinters in the field looking for a stage win today.


[What are BMC’s goals for the day?]



"I think to stay safe and watch out for any bog moves. Everyone’s seen the number of sprinters here and the level of sprinters here. I think everyone’s expecting a nice fast start to the race and a sprint finish.



"We don’t have a true, pure sprinter here, if you will, but we’ll try to just stay out of trouble and definitely stay up there, eve with the three-kilometre rule. We’ll try not to get gapped, and watch out for any kind of crashes, juts little things like that.



"It’s kind of one of the worst days because you don’t have a big agenda for the result, but you still have to race like you do."


Ian Boswell – Katusha-Alpecin told Cyclingnews at the start,



[What’s you job today?]



"To stay safe. I’m here to try and ride GC, so I don’t want to lose time. But for me as well, I would love for us to get a win and I’m more than happy to help Marcel whenever he needs help either in the middle of the race or the final, just to be up there anyways. If we could start the week off with a win that would be huge for us for the whole race and for us as a team, kind of setting a precedent for the whole week.



"It’s definitely a sprinters’ course. There are a lot of good sprinters here, so we’ll see how the race develops, but I think there’s no question that it’s going to be a big bunch gallop. I just hope it’s safe.


55km remaining from 134km

Five laps to go (of 12 laps total) and the breakaway has built their lead back out to 2 minutes.


Ian Garrison, Hagens Berman Axeon is a 20-year-old, second-year rider from Decatur. He is competing in the Tour of California for the first time.


He spoke with James Raia at the start of the stage in Long Beach.


[What do you expect in your time at the TOC?]


“I think the expectations are low, and that’s the beauty of our team. We can only do positive here and to learn at this level of racing.”


[With riders like Sagan, Cavendish and Kittel in the race are you intimidated or do you say, “I think I can ride with those guys"?]


“It’s a little bit of both, I think. They’re at the highest level and I definitely look up to them. I think it’s exciting and that’s my biggest emotion. I get to be in the spot where I can race against them."


Garrison, like other riders, is wearing a heart-shaped sticker on the glove of his left hand. Other riders have the sticker on their bikes. The sticker has the initials JC and a rendering of a bike below the initials.


It’s to honour Jackie Crowell, the former rider and coach who died of brain cancer in late April.


James Raia also spoke with Rally Cycling's director and a former racer Eric Wohlberg.


"It a funny thing, in the first year of the race (2006) I was on Symmetrics. We had great results but we could even get considerations to get an entry, to work on getting a budget, so I never had the chance to ride in the event. But I’ve been at the race since 2009 when I was a director for Bissell."


Rally Cycling have two GC contenders this year in Evan Huffman, a double stage winner last year, and Rob Britton, who help with those wins. 


Although the sprinters will certainly shine this week, there will also be a heated battle for the overall classification.


That race won't officially kick off until tomorrow's stage 2 on the slopes of Gibraltar Road, the summit finish.


And other decisive stages for the overall classification will be the stage 4 time trial in San Jose and the stage 6 'queen stage' to Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe.


91km remaining from 134km

The peloton have just crossed the finish line seeing four laps to go.


Putt picked up the three-second time bonus at the second intermediate sprint, while Krasilnikau took two seconds.


Back in the peloton, Cavendish had some rivalry for the third-place bonus, as Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) jumped out of the field and took the one second available.

After winning both intermediate sprints, Putt now has six seconds, which will help place him higher up in the overall standings ahead of stage 2.


Trek-Segafredo have an overall contender in Peter Stetina, who told Cyclingnews that he would be looking to win stage 2 on the summit of Gibraltar Road tomorrow, especially after he was second on that stage two years ago.


The team also have sprinter and wildcard Kiel Reijnen.


Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) spoke with Pat Malach ahead of stage 1, and said the team will look to stay safe in Long Beach.



"I think in the first place we just want to stay safe, because if you look at the line up we don’t have a really fast guy here, and if you see all those guys here it’s just to stay safe.


"We’ll try for sure to put someone in good position. Normally that would be Kiel [Reijnen]. This is a big goal for him and he has been training well.


"For me, I am just getting back into competition and it will be along block after this, so I think it’s a good shot to him and to support him to give something back after the Classics.



[Breakaways for you this week?]



"I think that’s a good plan to start with. Of course, it’s not always easy to get in the breakaway. There are a few stages where I might try to slip in the break. It would be a good workout and dig deep. If they come back I can help the team, and if not I can try to finish it off."


102km remaining from 134km

The breakaway crossed under the finish line, seeing two laps to go. Their gap has dropped to one minute and the field is starting to put in a more commanding chase.


104km remaining from 134km

Katusha-Alpecin's Reto Hollenstien is leading the peloton with one rider, followed by Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data and Mitchelton-Scott.


Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) looks comfortable in the peloton, sitting slightly further back and surrounded by his teammates.


A Rally Cycling rider is off to the side of the road with a mechanical. His team car has driven up and a mechanic jumps out to help take care of that, and get him back in the race.


Mathew Hayman has done a lot of the work on the front of the field for Mitchelton-Scott's sprinter Caleb Ewan. 


The former Paris-Roubaix winner will likely be doing a lot of work this week during the stages, while Ewan's pure lead-out men will take over in the closing kilometres.


25km remaining from 134km

The gap has dropped slightly to under a minute with 24km to go.


22km remaining from 134km

The breakaway are racing under the banner with two laps (or 12) to go and the gap is down to 30 seconds.


Krasilnikau is pushing the pace at the front of the breakaway, Putt in tow at the moment, but the pair look back and see the shadow of the main field close behind.




The peloton is racing along six kilometres of beach, but there are few people on it. Many are watching the bike race today, while the weather is unseasonably cool at 60F and windy.


The peloton will get a strong tailwind on the finishing stretch today.


17km remaining from 134km

Quick-Step Floors, that have won 29 races this season so far, will look for their 30th victory in Long Beach. 


They have Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria sitting protected in the peloton. But the team is lined out along the coastal road with 16 km to go.


Quick-Step Floors are starting to see rivals from Dimension Data moving forward, as the lead-out trains for the teams with top sprinters start to assemble at the front.


Putt and Krasilnikau are still working well together. holding 35 seconds, but watch for them to start attacking one another in the closing kilometres.


There is a most aggressive rider award up for grabs today and one of these riders is likely to be awarded that special jersey on the podium.


13km remaining from 134km

The peloton is close behind, and the two breakaway riders look back, and see them coming only 15 seconds back.


Lead-out trains have started but Quick-Step Floors look the most organised as they cross under the 1 km to go banner.  


One lap to go!


The bell is ringing for Putt and Krasilnikau signifying one lap to go. The peloton now race under the finish line banner but they are still spread wide across the boulevard.


9km remaining from 134km

The peloton is looming at a mere 10 seconds behind Putt and Krasilnikau.


Putt has dropped back into the field, but Krasilnikau is staying out front. He is not giving up yet.


There are five kilometres to go, and Quick-Step Floors is still dominating the front of the field.


The field is at the top end of the course and are turning around to return to the finish straight away, a strong tailwind the entire way back.


Holowesko has taken the lead, taking on the WorldTour teams, passing Quick-Step's lead-out men.


They are working for American John Murphy, while TJ Eisenhart sits behind to sweep his back wheel. 




Katusha-Alpecin are now moving forward for Marcel Kittel and Quick-Step Floors for Fernando Gaviria, all at the front and preparing for a sprint.


One Holowesko rider is left on the front, they have burned all their lead-out matches and Murphy will now have to find his own way among the world-class field.


AG2R La Mondiale are also in the mix, but Katusha-Alpecin swings wide out to the left of the boulevard.


MItchelton-Scott are nowhere to be seen at the front of the field, and are sitting some 40 places back.


Bora-Hansgrohe have just shown their colours for the first time today, at the front of the field, Peter Sagan is there in the rainbow jersey as the world champion.


Mark Cavendish has moved onto Peter Sagan's wheel.


Quick-Step fly forward and take their lead-out to the front, passed Sagan and Cavendish, with Gaviria.


Caleb Ewan has found his way to the front.


Quick-Step have the numbers


Gaviria, Ewan are sprinting side-by-side for the line.


Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) wins stage 1 at the Tour of California.


Tour of California stage 1 - Top 10


1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors 03:02:23
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
6 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
7 Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
8 Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
9 Tyler Magner (USA) Rally Cycling
10 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data


Tour of California overall classification after stage 1 - top 5


1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors 03:02:13
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:04
3 Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:06
5 Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources


Gaviria's victory marked the 30th season win for Quick-Step Floors. The Colombian will wear the overall leader's jersey at the start of stage 2.


The 157km stage will start in Ventura and finish on the summit of Gibraltar Road. It will be the first stage for the overall contenders to separate themselves from one another.


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