Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) got his Amgen Tour of California campaign off to a perfect start sprinting to a resounding stage victory in San Diego.

Sagan’s first race back after a break following his successful classics campaign proved he is still riding strongly as he found a perfect opening in the hectic sprint finish to take the win and the first leader’s jersey with it.

Having identified the first stage as one that suited Sagan, Tinkoff hit the front with 5km to race, keeping Sagan out of trouble.

Tinkoff’s Sport Director in California, Patxi Vila said from the finish: “We knew it was a good chance today and it was one of the objectives to go for the win. Katusha did a strong ride to chase today but we knew we wanted to follow and wait as long as possible, keeping the team together and this paid off.”

The race got off to a predictable start with an early breakaway of seven riders moving clear in the opening kilometres and quickly building an advantage that would see them spend the day at the front of the race.

The stage featured one main difficulty along its 175km parcours, the first category climb of Honey Springs Road, a 9.5km ascent at an average of 5.5% gradient.

With the breakaway holding several minutes advantage on the climb, the peloton took it fairly steady and no real splits occurred behind the leaders.

As the race headed back downhill all thoughts turned to the stage finish, and the sprint opportunity that awaited – and the gap started to fall as teams applied more pressure to the front of the race.

Having sat at over six minutes, the lead was down to 2’30” with 45km to race. After the final intermediate sprint, the front group split and that signalled the end for them with the catch finally coming with just over 3km from the line.

With a headwind finish it was important to leave it late to open up the sprint and Sagan pulled clear to take a convincing win ahead of the Dutch pair of Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

The stage win is Sagan’s 14th at the Tour of California, and he also won the overall classification at last year’s race. The World Champion will wear the leader’s jersey on tomorrow’s second stage, 148.5km from South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, which is another potential opportunity for the Slovakian sprinter.

Stage 1 Result
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) Tinkoff 4:20:41
2. Wouter Wippert (NED) Cannondale Pro Cycling Team +00:00:00
3. Dylan Groenewegen (NED) LottoNL – Jumbo +00:00:00
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) Direct Energie +00:00:00
5. Martijn Verschoor (NED) Team Novo Nordisk +00:00:00


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