Tour of California: Mark Cavendish cruises to stage win and race lead in stage one
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tour of California: Cavendish cruises to stage win and race lead

by VeloNation Press at 8:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of California
 
The Manxman is back on form

Mark CavendishHTC-Columbia sprinter Mark Cavendish won the first stage of the Tour of California today, easily beating Saxo Bank's J.J. Haedo to the line in Sacramento.  The Argentinian made a valiant effort to come around the Manxman, but the man with number 13 on his back was out to prove that he's back to top form.  BMC Racing's Alexander Kristoff took the last spot on the podium, finishing just behind the front pair in third.

Chaos ensued in the wake of the HTC-Columbia leadout train, with Belgian national champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank) among the casualties.

With his win, Cavendish will wear the golden jersey of race leader for tomorrow's stage.

"I'm really happy," said Cavendish after the stage. "I thought it was going to be a bunch sprint and the team controlled it perfectly. When you've got eight guys giving 100% and all trusting each other it just works. Only one guy crossed with their hands in the air but it's a team effort.

"The beginning was quite hard when the attack was trying to go but after that the team controlled it all day to keep the gap down. A couple of teams helped us along the way and then we took over. We've got the best team in the world for leading out a sprint and we know not to take over too early or too late.

"I trust Mark Renshaw's wheel, he trusts Bernie Eisel's wheel, Bernie trusts Tony Martin's wheel and it just goes like that. I'm the one who crosses the line first but all the guys in front of me deliver me perfectly."

A sunny day in Cali

The 2010 Tour of California kicked off with a 167.7 kilometer stage from Nevada City to Sacremento under perfect weather.  The race revolved around a group of four escapees that included Paul Mach (Bissell), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Chad Beyer (BMC Racing) and Mark De Maar (UnitedHealthcare).  The peloton allowed them more than 5 minutes before they started to slowly reel them back in.

As the peloton approached the finishing town of Sacramento the four riders were doomed, but Mach was able to pick up enough points to lead the King of the Mountains competition, while Tjallingii led the sprint competition on the road, but in the end had to settle for the most aggressive rider prize.

The catch was made with 16 kilometers remaining in the race.  The peloton then had three laps of a 3.2 circuit through the wide streets of the state capital.  The HTC-Columbia team took over the reigns, with Kelly Benefits helping to keep the pace high to discourage attacks.  In the closing kilometers Saxo Bank riders Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara and O'Grady looked to take over the front for Haedo, but the American team would have none of that, and rode around them on the right to give the rest a clinic on how to give a proper leadout.

Several crashes split the field up in the closing kilometers, but they happened with less than 3 kilometers to go, so there was no threat to the overall contenders losing time.  Elbows were flying on the way to the line, with all of the sprinters and their teammates fighting for wheels.  The final corner into the finishing straight saw Boonen and O'Grady hit the pavement, while ahead Cavendish did what he does better than anyone else, and took his third victory of the season.

2010 Tour of California stage 1 results:
1. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
2. JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank)
3. Alexander Kristoff (BMC Racing)
4. Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions)

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