Peter Sagan Sprints to Stage 1 Victory in 2012 Amgen Tour of California
Peter Sagan overcame a flat tire five kilometers from the finish only to have teammate Ted King tow him back up to the pack at more than 40 miles per hour to pass his stage victory challengers within the last 100 meters to win stage 1 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California.
California must suit Slovakian Peter Sagan of Team Liquigas-Cannondale well. The 22-year-old rider overcame a flat tire five kilometers from the finish only to have teammate Ted King tow him back up to the pack at more than 40 miles per hour to pass his stage victory challengers within the last 100 meters to win stage 1 of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California before thousands of screaming fans in Santa Rosa - the city where Team BMC Racing's headquarters are located.
"I want to thank my teammates for helping me win this stage," a happy Sagan told the press after the stage and elaborated "Ted King, who helped me with 3 kilometer to go and Daniel Goss who piloted me to the front so I was able to win. It's going to be really tough to hold onto the yellow jersey. This race will definitely get harder and harder as we go."
Today's stage kicked off the seventh edition of the race, which will take riders and fans nearly 750 miles throughout some of California's most iconic terrain, including the Pacific Coast, Mt. Diablo and Big Bear Lake over the next six days, before ending in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, May 20.
The Amgen Tour of California peloton of 128 riders, who headed out behind Santa Rosa native and three-time Amgen Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Team Omega Pharma-QuickStep on two short neutral laps before setting out on the 115.9-mile course. The Stage 1 route took the peloton through the Sonoma wine country before winding up and over to the Pacific Coast, and then back into Santa Rosa, where Sagan outsprinted Team Garmin-Barracuda's Heinrich Haussler and American Fred Rodriguez of Team Exergy to take the stage one victory.
After the two neutral laps around Santa Rosa, the riders wasted no time attacking, resulting in six riders forming a breakaway group. Included in the breakaway were Maxime Bouet (FRA) of AG2R La Mondiale; Jeff Louder (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team; David Boily (CAN) of Team Spidertech Powered by C10; Andrew Dahlheim (USA) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) of Bissell Pro Cycling; Sebastian Salas (USA) of Team Optum Powered by Kelly Benefit Strategies; Josh Atkins (NZL) of the Bontrager Livestrong Team; and Sam Johnson (SUI) of Team Exergy.
"Bissell Pro Cycling is connected to Santa Rosa since this is where we train," Jacques-Maynes commented after the stage and added "We rode this course at our training camp in February. Coleman Valley has a lot of history here. There are some pretty gnarly descents, but we had good cooperation with the weather today. It was just a great day to be out with a great crowd. I'm really happy to win a jersey. Bissell is one of the most aggressive teams out here and that's what we are here to prove."
As the road tipped upward, the peloton closed in on the breakaway, dropping the gap to eight minutes and 45 seconds. At the half-way mark in the stage and 10 kilometer from the day's first KOM, the break was