Tour of California: Sagan times it right in stage three sprint
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tour of California: Sagan times it right in stage three sprint

by Kyle Moore at 7:44 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of California
Slovak sprinter explodes late around Bling Matthews; Farrar takes third

Tour of CaliforniaOn a more relaxed day in the Amgen Tour of California, Peter Sagan (Cannondale) added to his race record tally of stage wins, getting number nine in the stage three sprint into Santa Clarita. Sagan took a while to find a sprinting lane, caught behind the first line of fast men until he found a gap on the right side and unleashed a short but powerful kick to put a bike length on second placed Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge).

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) came up for third, and the day for the sprinters was finally decided by the sprinters, as opposed to a late attacker, as when Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) stole the show on stage one.

It was another up-and-down day in southern California, and while it was still quite warm, the temperatures were not as hot as they had been the previous two days. The peloton was more than happy to ride a traditional stage, with a daylong break, a few minor mountain points and intermediate sprint checks, the catch, and the sprint.

“My teammates did very good work taking the break back when they did,” he said, speaking after what was his 51st professional victory. “I had luck with Boivin pulling me to the last 200 meters. When everyone is sprinting it is difficult. With the wind where it was, it was best to go at the last moment, so I went in the final 100 meters. I'm very happy about the win.”

The prototypical day for the sprinters got underway in a traditional manner, with an attack by Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Leopard) at kilometre zero. Voigt couldn’t get away alone, but the German veteran did join a 23-man breakaway that had a 45-second advantage after 25 kilometres were raced.

Four climbs offered points during the stage, beginning with Munz Ranch Road, two climbs on Lake Hughes Road, and Bouquet Canyon Road. King of the Mountains Carter Jones (Bissell) had gotten into the 23-man breakaway, and emerged from the group to sweep up the maximum points on Munz Ranch Road. At the top of the climb, the peloton had reattached to the sizeable group, and on the lengthy descent, four men charged up the road and formed the day’s feature break.

Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Gavin Mannion (Bontrager), Chad Beyer (Champion System), and Andy Schleck (Radioshack-Leopard) provided a nice mix of WorldTour punch and younger American flavor, and 40km in to the 177km day, their lead was 2’30”. The quartet added two more minutes at the 55km mark, and the gap continued to hover around four minutes as the break swung onto Lake Hughes Road to begin the first of its two climbs.

Beyer led the escape over both the climbs unchallenged, cresting the second with a 4’45” gap. Jamis-Hagens Berman and race leader Janier Acevedo, along with Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp got to business with 80km to race, reducing their deficit to under four minutes, and with 60km left, it was at three minutes.

The two intermediate sprint checks came late in the stage, but the breakaway was still out there to nab them, and points jersey holder Westra ensured that he grabbed both, and his three other escapees didn’t argue with it. With 40km to race, the quartet was within reach at 2’35”, and Schleck mopped up the final mountain points on Bouquet Canyon Road. With most of the final 35km going downhill, Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale drove the peloton harder. On a little riser interrupting the descent, Mannion had had enough and dropped back. With 20km to go, the peloton was 45 seconds behind, and it wasn’t long before Westra and Schleck sat up.

Beyer pushed on for a short while longer, but he too was soon back in the confines of the main bunch, as teams were organizing near the front to position their sprinters. With 6km to go, Markel Irizar (Radioshack-Leopard) hit out in an effort to duplicate Westra’s effort of two days ago, but the peloton was more vigilant this time, and the move went nowhere.

Saxo-Tinkoff took over with 3km to race, while behind, a single rider crash took out Ryan Eastman (Bontrager). Under the 1km kite, no team had obvious control, and riders were fanned out all over the road.

BMC was the last team on the front heading toward the line, in a lead-out meant for Hushovd. The Norwegian opened his sprint, but younger legs were chomping at the bit behind him, and Matthews seemed to have the angle until Sagan found his.

The Cannondale rider darted in front of Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Sylvain Chavanel and shot up a gap on the far right side of the road. With 20 pedal-strokes, he had closed a gap and then opened one on Matthews. Farrar came up behind him for third. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Boy Van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM) used the left side of the road to take fourth and fifth, respectively.

After three stages, Omega Pharma-Quick Step finds itself down three men. Stijn Vandenbergh did not start stage two, and Pieter Serry was one of the much-talked about withdrawals after he collapsed in the heat just a few hundred meters from the stage two summit finish. Bert Grabsch abandoned during stage three, along with Tom Zirbel (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Emanuel Palma (Jamis-Hagens Berman). Mauro Da Dalto (Cannondale) also had to quit after stage two, suffering from heat stroke at the end of the stage.

Tour of California Stage 3: Palmdale – Santa Clarita (177km) Brief Results:

1, Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
2, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
3, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp)
4, Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
5, Boy Van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM)
6, Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing)
7, Alex Candelario (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies)
8, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)
9, Zakkari Dempster (NetApp-Endura)
10, Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff)

General Classification after Stage 3:

1, Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman)
2, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing) at 12”
3, Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) at 27”
4, Mathias Frank (BMC Racing) at 45”
5, Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) at 55”
6, Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy) at 1’03”
7, Chad Haga (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) at 1’13”
8, Matthew Busche (Radioshack-Leopard) at 1’15”
9, Lawson Craddock (Bontrager) at 1’32”
10, Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) at 1’40”


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