Liquigas team rider Timmy Dugan leads the pack through the scenic vineyards.
Peter Sagan, who had to deal with a flat back tire in the last five miles, recovered by chasing down the field to win the opening stage of the Tour of California on Sunday. Sagan earned his fourth stage win in the Tour of California despite losing 20 seconds during the mechanical change in the final sprint.
"It was a confusing finish," said Sagan. "There were very few people in the peloton."
The Liquigas-Cannondale team rider also managed to avoid a crash ahead of him as he guided through a technical decent in the scenic wine country area to finish just ahead of Heinrich Haussler and Fred Rodriguez. The crash took place with about three miles to go and involved about 12 competitors, including one of the race's top sprinters, Michael Matthews. Sagan overtook Haussler and Rodriguez in the last mile.
Despite flatting with 7k to go, Peter Sagan delivered the goods with flair.
The racers had to cycle through morning fog at the beginning of Sunday's stage, but blue skies provided a fitting finish as they sprinted through the streets of Santa Rosa. The 115.9-mile first stage of North America's most prominent cycling race began the eight-day, 733.5-mile journey that ends in Los Angeles.
RESULTS: a 115.9 mile ride in Santa Rosa:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Liquigas) 4hrs, 42 mins, 35secs
2. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) s.t.
3. Freddy Rodriguez (USA) s.t.
4. Leigh Howard (AUS) s.t.
5. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) s.t.
6. George Hincapie (USA) s.t.
7. Ryan Anderson (USA) s.t.
8. Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL) s.t.
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) s.t.
10. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) s.t.
1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Liquigas) in 4hrs 42:25.
2. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) at 04.
3. Jeffry Louder (USA) 04.
4. Freddy Rodriguez (USA) 06.
5. Ben Jacques-Mayne (USA) 06.
6. Joshua Atkins (NZL) 09.
7. Leigh Howard (AUS) 10.
8. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) 10.
9. George Hincapie (USA) 10.
10. Ryan Anderson (USA) 10.
Peter Sagan (SVK)
Stage 1 Amgen Race Leader; Visit California Sprint Jersey Rider; Rabobank Best Young Rider Jersey Leader
On his thoughts of winning Stage 1 and holding onto the Amgen Race Leader jersey
“I want to thank my teammates for helping me win this stage. Ted King, who helped me with 3km 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.”
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Stage 1 Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider
On his first race back
“It was great to be here in my hometown in Santa Rosa. Today was a huge success. The course was beautiful and I knew every meter of the road. To be honest, I suffered a little, and suffering on your own roads isn’t fun, but I am just happy to be here.”
On the hometown course
“The design of the course was really nice. Everyone here in downtown got to see the start and participate in the village and see us a few times. It makes for a great experience for the fans and, hopefully, more stages can be designed like that.”
On the importance of the Amgen Tour of California leading up to the Tour de France and London Olympics
“The Amgen Tour of California is of the upmost importance in order to get to the Tour de France and London Olympics. There’s a lot of racing left, and this is my motivation to improve, be as fast as possible and train as much as possible.”
On gaining confidence after this stage
“When you are out of competition for a while, it’s a little foreign. As time passes I’ll get more comfortable and feel part of the peloton again.”
Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA)
Bissell Pro Cycling
Stage 1 Exergy Most Aggressive Rider
On his team’s performance and winning the Exergy Most Aggressive Jersey
“Bissell Pro Cycling is connected to Santa Rosa since this is where we train. 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.”
On riding so aggressively and his thoughts on racing in his hometown tomorrow (Stage 2)
“I’m sure I will be suffering on my home roads a little like Levi [Leipheimer]. I know every inch of the roads and I know how hard Bonny Doon is and Bear Creek road. We’ll see, but today definitely sapped the legs a little bit. The goal is to waive the Bissell flag and Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey tomorrow. I’ll take this win.”
David Boily (CAN)
Team Spidertech Powered by C10
Stage 1 Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey Leader
On winning the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey
“It was a long day in the saddle. However, it was very good to win the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey. We will work very hard to try to keep this jersey.”
On his overall goals for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California
“I’m a strong rider for GC [General Classification.] My overall chances are pretty good, but I will put all my efforts toward gaining jerseys and will work hard on that.”
Fred Rodriguez (USA)
Third-Place Overall, Stage 1
On the final kilometers of the stage
“I caught up to Boonen, but then he flatted. I tried to go around him but didn’t have the legs. [Peter] Sagan was definitely strong today.”
Senior Vice President of AEG Sports and Executive Race Director
On the first stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California
“I want to thank Santa Rosa and Sonoma county for a fantastic overall start for 2012 Amgen Tour of California. Just when we think we can’t produce more fans here in Santa Rosa, we see the largest turnout ever. Today, we saw the peloton change a few times which kept it very exciting, and it was an intense race straight to the finish.”
UNITEDHEALTHCARE TEAM REPORT
Photo: Jonathan Devich - epicimages.us
Jeff Louder (USA) of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team got off the front early in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California and remained in the lead group for more than four hours and 32 minutes before being reeled in the final few minutes of an exciting opening stage in Santa Rosa, California. Louder’s gutsy performance earned him a 3rd place standing in the General Classification in a stage that was won by Liquigas-Cannondale’s Peter Sagan (SVK). Garmin-Barracuda’s Heinrich Haussler (AUS) took second while Team Exergy’s Fred Rodriguez (USA) who finished in third.
Louder’s aggressive riding also enabled him to pick up both sprint victories on the day. General Manager and Team Director, Mike Tamayo, praised the effort from the Salt Lake City, Utah native and his Teammates.
“It was a great day for the Team,” Tamayo said. “Our primary goal was to get a rider off the front and get early representation and Jeff did that for us really well. At one point it looked like he might have a shot at going to the finish line when the Pro Tour teams were looking around at each other and the break got out to more than 10 minutes. It was also good to see Rory, Marc and our top climbers climbing in the front group with no difficulties. It was a good day for the Team today, especially having UnitedHealthcare and so many of our sponsors here in Santa Rosa.”
After spending more than four and one-half hours in the break today Louder spoke of his Herculean performance. “The goal for Team UnitedHealthcare was to get in the breakaway today and my number came up as the lucky guy to make it,” Louder said. “When you’re out there, you look for the opportunities on the road and fortunately I was able to win the sprints. We had a pretty good lead coming into the final climb and I thought the three of us (Louder, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale) – might be able to stick it to the end. We gave it our best but it wasn’t quite enough.”
Louder continued, “But it’s Mother’s Day today and it’s also my wife’s birthday, so I really wanted to try and show something to her just out of appreciation for everything she does for me. So, it was a good day for me and I’m happy to have been able to be out there for the Team.”
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Roster:
Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Marc de Maar (CUR)
Jeff Louder (USA)
Philip Deignan (IRE)
Jonny Clarke (AUS)
Jason McCartney (USA)
Brad White (USA)
Chris Jones (USA)
QUICKSTEP TEAM REPORT
After the peloton reeled in the final three riders of an original eight rider breakaway with 10km to go, it became clear that the 185.5km Stage 1 of AMGEN Tour of California would likely come down to a field sprint. However, a crash with more than 3km to go affected the chances of several riders — including Bert Grabsch — and an unfortunate flat tire for Tom Boonen with 600 meters to go cost him the chance of contesting the stage.
"It was an hard stage but I really fought to try to do the sprint," Boonen said. "I came back in the peloton at about 9 miles to go thanks to Vandenbergh who helped me a lot. At that point I started thinking about the sprint. I was in good position, ready to take off but I had a flat tire at about 600 meters from the finish, crossing the railroad. Fortunately I didn't crash, but I lost my chance to make the sprint. We will try again."
"The course was beautiful and the fact I know every meter of the Rosa makes it enjoyable," Levi Leipheimer said of racing in his home town, Santa Rosa. "But to be honest I suffered a little bit, so that always stinks. Especially when you're suffering on your own roads. Good and bad, but i'm happy to be here. I think participating in the AMGEN Tour of California is of the utmost importance to be good in July for the Tour de France and hopefully the Olympics. There's Tour of Utah, hopefully the USA Pro Cycling Challenge — there's a lot of races left in the season and that was a lot of my motivation to recover as fast as possible and train as much as my leg would allow me to in order for me to be fit enough to take the start here, finish, and then benefit from the race and not just get blown out the back within one or two days."
SPIDERTECH TEAM REPORT
In his second Amgen Tour of California appearance, David Boily of Québec, QC sent a strong message today at the opening Amgen Tour of California: he wants the King of the Mountain jersey. And today he did so in style with his Argon18 Gallium Pro, winning the first three KOM sprints.
Cheered by thousands of spectators in the vibrant cycling city of Santa Rosa, Quebec’s David Boily jumped on the early break of eight riders that took off as the riders left the downtown neutral laps, a break that lasted for the vast majority of the day, and showed a maximum gap of over 11 minutes.
In the King of the Mountain standings, a jersey that Team SpiderTech’s Pat McCarty won last year, Boily carried the honors in the opening stage, scoring 22 points to finish the day atop the standings.
“It feels very good. I have a lot of confidence now. I know the form is there, I know the mental is there. I now need to focus on my recovery for the next couple of stages, and try to keep the jersey,” said Boily.
“I wasn’t too sure of my plan of attack. I didn’t know the guys in the breakaway. I got a chance to see if the first climb to see how they were riding. I saw a guy from Optum-Kelly Benefit (Canadian Sebastien Salas) that was riding very good, and he proved to be a tough challenge. He made me suffer,” continued Boily. “I used some SpiderTech “X” bands on my knees at all time, in all races. It really helped me with the blood flow in my legs, and prevent some wear and tear. It definitely helps really good for me."
Boily, who turned 22 just last week, finished second in the 2011 Tour de l’Avenir, which featured massive climbs in France.
The race ended in a bunch sprint as the peloton rejoined the break into the town of Santa Rosa. Peter Sagan of WorldTour team Liquigas-Cannondale crossed the line first, edging Heinrich Haussler of Team Garmin-Barracuda and Jeffry Louder of American continental team UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling.
Ryan Anderson of Vancouver, BC was seventh in the bunch sprint, and is now in tenth place of the General classification.
Stage two will be held tomorrow, starting from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, a 188-km joyride on the beautiful California coastline.
The 2012 Tour of California is broadcast on television in Canada on SportsnetOne. Check your local listings for more information.
Fans from across the world can follow the race live through the RadioShack Tour Tracker, which delivers race coverage across web, mobile and tablet viewing platforms via live video, audio and real-time data streams using the tested Tour Tracker technology.
Follow Team SpiderTech on twitter at www.twitter.com/TeamSpiderTech for live updates from the caravan. You can also follow your team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamspidertech.