Mark Cavendish Claims First Stage of 2014 Amgen Tour of California Following Closest Finish in Race History in Sacramento
May 11, 2014
Carmen Small Claims Women's Circuit Race Victory
Competition Continues Tomorrow with Women's and Men's Time Trial in Folsom
SACRAMENTO (May 11, 2014) - The 2014 Amgen Tour of California began and ended a historic first day of racing at the foot of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, with Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team's Mark Cavendish (GBR), the victor in what was the closest finish in the event's nine years.
In the longest race day (120 miles) this year (with seven days yet to come) and a finish designed to favor sprinters, the 128 cyclists in the ninth annual race, May 11-18, ended the Stage 1, with three two-mile laps around the State Capitol building. Prior Amgen Tour of California finishes in Sacramento have been some of the most memorable, and 2014 was another one for the history books, with the most accomplished pack of sprinters in race history vying for the first stage win to the cheers of several people-deep crowds.
The final circuit saw Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team and Team Giant-Shimano battling for control and position to propel their sprinters to victory. In a thrilling photo finish, Cavendish (GBR), the 2011 World Champion who also holds the third most Tour de France stage wins, came blazing from behind in the very final meters to lunge over the finish line just a tire rim past Team Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb (GER). With Cavendish donning the Amgen Race Leader Jersey following his fourth career Amgen Tour of California stage win, Degenkolb's second place finish will put him in the Visit California Sprint Jersey tomorrow. Belkin-Pro Cycling Team's Moreno Hofland (NED) rode through the line fractions of a second behind the two leaders to claim third place.
"I've won a sprint by 10 cm before, and I've lost a sprint by 3 [cm], and both of them I knew the outcome. That was the first time in my career I really had no idea who'd won...I'm super happy," said Cavendish of his seventh win of 2014.
With 128 of the world's elite cyclists (16 teams) all vying for an early hold on the race, an early breakaway of six riders included the peloton's youngest member, 19-year old Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) of the Bissell Development Team, who was awarded today's Crunchies Best Young Rider jersey for his efforts. They held the gap, which was more than five minutes at times, until about 30 miles to go when Team Sky began to control the tempo of the peloton and Cavendish's Team Omega Pharma-Quick-Step, which helped close down the breakaway.
From there, a flat section of farmland saw 15 leaders at the front of the pack, many of whom retired back into the peloton after battling the heavy crosswinds. Coming into downtown Sacramento, three leaders held a :10 advantage over the peloton going into three 2-mile circuits lined with thousands of screaming spectators. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team's Kiel Reijnen (USA) held onto a 20-second advantage until the final lap. In the second circuit the green train of Cannondale Pro Cycling could be seen forming in a bid to lead out their decorated sprinter Peter Sagan (SVK), who ultimately was swept up away in the final meters and ended the day in fourth place.
Today's result sets up the battle of the sprinters for the overall green jersey, which Sagan has won four years running, along with the title for the most Amgen Tour of California stage wins (10). Cavendish won the overall green jersey five years ago.
Other jerseys awarded today include: the Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey to Team Novo Nordisk's Charles Planet (FRA) and the Michelob Ultra King of the Mountain Jersey to Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies' Will Routley (CAN).
108 OF THE WORLDS BEST WOMENS CYCLISTS ALSO RACED ON DAY 1
After the men rolled off the start line, 20 top professional women's teams (108 riders) in the world competed on a 1.25-mile circuit race course surrounding the State Capitol building. In the first of two days of professional women's racing presented by SRAM, Team Specialized-lululemon's Carmen Small (USA), the current National Time Trial Champion and a podium finisher at the National Road Race Championships, catapulted her way to her first win of the season. She sprung to the front of the tightly packed bunch in the final moments of the exciting, all-out sprint to the finish line. The one-hour race featured aggressive riding and attacks from the beginning, with speeds on the four-corner course averaging 27.5 mph. Other contenders who shaped the race today included UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team's Alison Powers (USA), who with meters left to go appeared to have victory in hand until teammate Coryn Rivera (USA) caught her to claim second place, followed by Brianna Walle (USA) taking third for Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies.
The Amgen Tour of California is the largest and most prestigious race in the U.S. and has become known for attracting top international talent. Among the riders at the start line today were Olympic gold medalist and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky); Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team's Tom Boonen (BEL), a former World Champion; BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney (USA) and Thor Hushovd (NOR), a former World Champion; ORICA-GreenEDGE's Matthew Goss (AUS), one of the top sprinters in the world; Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b MAXXIS' Fred Rodriguez (USA), the only four-time U.S. Champion; and perennial crowd favorite Jens Voigt (GER) of Trek Factory Racing, in what will likely be his final Amgen Tour of California appearance.
A critical partner since the race's inception, Amgen returns this year as title sponsor of the race.
"As a biotechnology company in the race to dramatically improve people's lives, Amgen is proud to be the title sponsor of the Amgen Tour of California for the ninth consecutive year. This premier race provides Amgen the opportunity to raise awareness of some of the world's most serious illnesses, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, and to connect with patients through programs running in tandem with the race," said Ray Jordan, senior vice president, Corporate Affairs, Amgen. "Our sponsorship also allows Amgen to make real impact in supporting cancer patients and their families nationwide through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative."
Amgen created Breakaway from Cancer® in 2005 as a complementary component to its title sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California. Breakaway from Cancer is a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer - from prevention through survivorship. It represents a collaboration between Amgen and four nonprofit organizations - Prevent Cancer Foundation, Cancer Support Community, Patient Advocate Foundation and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship. These organizations offer a broad range of support services complementing those provided by a patient's team of healthcare professionals.
Throughout the 2014 Amgen Tour of California, Amgen will honor and celebrate cancer survivors through a variety of events including today's Breakaway Mile, a special walk along the race course that crosses the race finish line to honor the millions of cancer survivors worldwide.
In honor of cancer survivors and advocates everywhere, during today's Sacramento Breakaway Mile, colon cancer survivor and Davis, Calif. resident Eve Bukowski was recognized and celebrated as the local Breakaway from Cancer Champion. Bukowski was joined by approximately 150 community members impacted by cancer and Amgen's PK Morrow, medical director, Global Development at Amgen, who plays a crucial role in developing innovative medicines to treat cancer and other serious illnesses.
For access to resources or to learn more, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
From iconic ocean vistas to mountaintop finishes to desert scapes, the cyclists will cover more than 720 miles of beautiful and varying California terrain this week as they ride from the north to the south of the state in this Tour de France-style competition.
STAGE 2 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY MICHELOB ULTRA:
Monday, May 12 - Folsom Time Trial (12.5 mi)
Start Time: 1:05 p.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50 p.m. PDT
Satellite Feed Time: 4:50 - 5 p.m. PT
(Coordinates can be found at http://www.amgentourofcalifornia.com/news/media-resources)
Tomorrow's Stage 2 is the individual time trial event in Folsom. Before the men begin the stage, 20 top professional women time trialists will compete on the same course, the first time in Amgen Tour of California history that women will compete in two events.
Following his win today, Cavendish earned a :04 win bonus over the field as well as the last start position in tomorrow's time trial, a short, flat course that will reward the strongest rider and prove an honest test of who is riding well and who is not. Designed for speed, the 12.5-mile route will begin and finish in Folsom's historic district. A start on Sutter Street will be followed by a turn onto Riley and a short downhill run onto the Rainbow Bridge and over the American River. The route will then turn north toward Folsom Lake. A right turn onto Folsom Lake Crossing will take the riders past the main entrance of California's second oldest prison. A turn onto Green Valley will lead the riders to a 180-degree turn back over the same route to finish downtown. While there is a good chance Stage 2 will result in a new race leader, expect results to be close - no one can afford to lose time on this stage so early in the week.
There are plenty of ways to take in the pro action, whether in person on the race course through May 18, via daily broadcasts on NBC Sports Network and NBC Sports (final Sunday), or by downloading the free Tour Tracker app, which features live race updates, rider background and full race results. More information on all of the ways to watch is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
About the Amgen Tour of California
The Amgen Tour of California is a Tour de France-style cycling road race created and presented by AEG that challenges the world's top professional cycling teams to compete along a demanding course that traverses hundreds of miles of California's iconic highways, byways and coastlines each spring. The teams chosen to participate have included Olympic medalists, Tour de France contenders and World Champions. More information is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Amgen focuses on areas of high-unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be the world's largest independent biotechnology company, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential. For more information, visit www.amgen.com and follow us on www.twitter.com/amgen.
AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Anschutz Company, owns or controls a collection of companies including facilities such as STAPLES Center, StubHub Center, Sprint Center, The O2, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Amgen Tour of California cycling road race; AEG Live, the organization's live-entertainment division, is a collection of companies dedicated to all aspects of live contemporary music performance, touring and a variety of programming and multi-media production. For more information, visit AEG today at www.aegworldwide.com.
# # #
Michael Roth, AEG
Eileen Tanner, GolinHarris
Diana Valdez, GolinHarris