Egan Bernal, Team Sky’s 21-year-old Colombian rider, defended his lead from yesterday to claim the 2018 Amgen Tour of California championship by the second largest margin in race history, +1.25” ahead of BMC Racing Team’s U.S. rider Tejay van Garderen. Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale’s Daniel Martinez (COL) rounds out third place overall.
The Amgen Race Leader Jersey traded between the two leaders after van Garderen’s blazing time trial Wednesday put him ahead of the Team Sky rider for two days. Bernal, who initially claimed the race lead on Monday’s Gibraltar Road summit stage, took back enough time on yesterday’s climbing stage to win back the coveted yellow jersey and a comfortable lead of +1.25”, leading to his first overall WorldTour race win today. Van Garderen himself still holds the race record for the largest winning margin of all time with his 2013 overall win +1.47” ahead of Michael Rogers.
“I’m so happy because it’s my first overall win on the WorldTour level,” said the 21-year old who will also go home with the TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey. “Today I feel great. The team did a really good job on the race and I won, and I’m just happy.”
Presented by Breakaway from Heart Disease, the men’s Stage 7 race conclusion was a 90.7-mile trek that began and ended in downtown Sacramento with three circuits that the peloton’s world-renowned sprinters were hungry for after being shut out all week by Quick-Step Floors’ Fernando Gaviria (COL). In the final stretch, Gaviria’s bike throw over the line seized the photo-finish win over Team Sunweb’s Maximilian Walscheid (GER), followed by Mitchelton-Scott’s Caleb Ewan (AUS). Gaviria held off lauded sprinters who have won this stage in past editions including Team Dimension Data’s Mark Cavendish (GBR) and Team Katusha Alpecin’s Marcel Kittel (GER), bringing his total stage wins this week to three – a clean sweep of the expected sprint finish stages – and clinching the prestigious Visit California Sprint Jersey competition.
The breakaway began early again and lasted until midway through the finishing circuits, containing Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s hometown rider Neilson Powless (Roseville, Calif.), Rally Cycling’s Adam de Vos (CAN), United Healthcare Pro Cycling’s Jonathan Clarke (AUS), and Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team’s U23 World Champ Mikkel Bjerg (DEN), who was awarded the Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey.
1. Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) in 3h07’39’’
2. Maximilian Walscheid (Team Sunweb) s.t
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) s.t
1. Egan Bernal (Team Sky)
2. Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) at 1’25’’
3. Daniel Martinez (Team EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale) at 2’14’’
Jersey Winners at Race Conclusion:
Amgen Race Leader Jersey – Egan Bernal (COL), Team Sky (GBR)
Visit California Sprint Jersey – Fernando Gaviria (COL), Quick-Step Floors (BEL)
Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Toms Skujins (LAT), Trek-Segafredo (USA)
TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Egan Bernal (COL), Team Sky (GBR)
Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Mikkel Bjerg (DEN), Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team (USA)
Photo: Oran Kelly