The 2016 Amgen Tour of California started today in the very South of the US sunshine state. The 170.5 kilometers long course around San Diego featured one cat. 1 climb. Regardless of that it was set to be a stage for the sprinters. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rode strong but had to leave the win to Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) in the end.
After only a couple kilometers into the race 7 riders managed to jump away. They built up a maximum lead of over 4 minutes. Out of this group Oscar Clark (Holowesko-Citadel) crossed the summit of Honey Springs road first, taking over the lead in the KOM classification.
Our African Team’s goal was to ride for Mark Cavendish, who won nine stages in California so far and was looking to extend his colorful palmarès. Having no rider in the breakaway the team tried to control the gap together with Katusha. Matt Brammeier was the first Team Dimension Data rider who showed himself at the front of the peloton.
The break fell apart on the way back to San Diego with two riders fighting to stay away. They were eventually caught inside the final five kilometers, when the race hit the coastline. In the crosswinds towards the finish line in Mission Beach, San Diego, teams tried to protect their leaders as good as possible. Our African outfit was still to be seen at the front of the action. However, inside the last 500 meters Cavendish got boxed in. In the end the win went to the reigning World Champion. Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) and Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto NL-Jumbo) had to settle for 2nd and 3rd.
Rolf Aldag – Sports Director
We wanted to win today’s stage with Mark Cavendish. This was our goal and we worked hard for it, which was good and nice to see. The guys stayed at the front of the bunch for most of the race and helped controlling the gap to the breakaway. On the run-in to the finish we were positioned well. Unfortunately, Mark got boxed in and couldn’t open his sprint. But that’s racing, I guess. It was only the first stage today, so we will continue to show ourselves. There’re still a few chances to get a stage win.