Cavendish Wins Stage 8 of Tour of California 2014
The 2014 Amgen Tour of California ended like it began - with a thrilling photo finish in which former World Champion Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma - QuickStep) beat John Degenkolb (Team Giant-Shimano). Team Sky Pro Cycling's Bradley Wiggins took the overall Tour of California victory.
In what may be remembered as the most competitive peloton in Tour of California history, Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins (GBR) fended off his challengers to claim the top prize in the fourth-closest finish that the race has seen in its nine year history.
“It’s a lot more strenuous," said Bradley Wiggins referring to wearing the Yellow Jersey all week. “And then, obviously, the teammates have to take the strain as well. No matter how strong you are individually, you’re nothing without a team behind you. They put themselves on the line and they really raised the game, especially the young guys on the team. I’m very grateful to them.”
The 2014 Amgen Tour of California proved to be both a showcase for the “new class” of young talents and for the time-tested gladiators of the sport. Up-and-comers proved their mettle, taking chances that paid off big in surprise stage wins while time-tested champions claimed their due with the likes of Wiggins, Peter Sagan and Cavendish – some of cycling’s all-time winningest competitors – taking home prizes.
The conclusion of the eight-day stage race featured an inspired ride by Wiggins who will leave the Golden State wearing yellow after handily defending the Amgen Race Leader Jersey in today’s 76.1-mile stage 8. With a final time of 28 hours, 22 minutes and 05 seconds, Wiggins has led the race since the stage 2 individual time trial, after which he overtook first day leader and fellow British rider Mark Cavendish (Team Omega Pharma – QuickStep), who won the closest finish in race history on opening day, and pulled out another narrow win in today’s finishing stage sprint.
A former World Champion and current National Champion, Cavendish’s well-earned victory today is the 133rd of his career. After being dropped on the third pass up the infamous 2.6-mile Rock Store climb during the first of three 20-mile circuits of Thousand Oaks, headquarters of the race’s title sponsor Amgen, he clawed his way back to the main group in the final miles of the race with enough reserves to accelerate to the front of the pack. Up against several other world-class sprinters in the final 500 meters, Cavendish mirrored his day one result, tearing over the finish line just inches ahead of Team Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb (GER). Earlier in the race, Cavendish had flatted on the second circuit and considered abandoning the race.
“To be fair I wasn’t anticipating a sprint today. I wasn’t going to start today, let alone finish, Cavendish explained to RoadCycling.com and added “I had a small breakfast and then we started. Rode with a few guys with the first lap, then on the second lap I actually punched it on my own during the climb. I did the whole second climb alone. Over the top, I could see the group. I was chasing the group. I finally got back to them on the descent.”
Also in contention for today’s stage win was Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan (SVK), who ended up third and will take home the Visit California Sprint Leader Jersey the