Having announced that he was targeting stage wins at this year’s race, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) added a second win of the week to his tally on the Laguna Seca race circuit with another superb performance.
The victory marks Sagan’s 15th career stage win at the Amgen Tour of California, and the win also cemented his lead in the green jersey points classification.
Tinkoff’s intentions were clear throughout the stage with a strong presence on the front chasing down the day’s breakaway before Sagan emerged at the head of the race on the day’s final difficulty, the Mazda Raceway Summit, climbing 1.1km at an average of 10.3% and gradients of up to 18%.
Sagan helped to make sure nothing got clear before taking another convincing sprint win from the small group left at the front of the race.
Directeur Sportif Patxi Vila was proud of the work that the team put in today, and full of praise for all the riders. “It’s a really nice win after the effort the guys put in. The team was fantastic – we didn’t get any help in chasing and it was a long, long stage but they were 300% committed to the task.
“Even though we knew the final would be hard for Peter, when you have a leader like him then everybody pulls together and gives that extra bit to make it work.”
The fourth stage came the day after the toughest of the race, but there was no rest for the riders with the longest stage of the week at 217km. To make things harder the peloton wasn’t in the mood to let the early breakaway attempts go clear and despite a number of strong moves, after 50km the group was still all together.
Ten kilometres later and a break had finally prised itself clear, with seven riders building an advantage of over four minutes by the day’s feedzone at 95.5km, having crossed the day’s first two categorised climbs.
The stage rolled its way north along the Pacific coastway with little flat on offer but it wasn’t until the final 15km that the real test lay.
After the break pulled clear, Tinkoff jerseys were present at the front applying pressure to keep the break in check and helping to reduce the gap to the leaders. Working together they brought the difference down to 2’00” with 20km to go, and this continued to fall as the two final climbs approached.
On the penultimate ascent, Laureles Grade Summit climbing for 5.5km at 5.7% average, the break split up leaving just one rider out front and this also saw the advantage tumble to just a handful of seconds over the top.
After the fast descent came the final uphill, and the steep slopes put an end to the last breakaway rider’s hopes as a select front group passed him and fought their way up the short but very steep ascent.
Sagan was always present in the first few places up the climb, showing that the steep gradients were within him, and proving the strength he has not only in the sprints but also on the Flandrian type climbs.
Over the top the group was together and a group sprint was set. Coming around the final corner, Peter sat in second wheel and as the final effort opened up the result was only going one way.
Today’s fifth stage will take the riders up to over 2,600m altitude on a very tough stage that climbs for what will feel like the majority of the day. The 212km parcours takes in two second category climbs before a final third category ascent to the finish line in South Lake Tahoe.