Skujins Retains Race Lead Midway through 8-Stage Race
AVILA BEACH, Calif. (May 13, 2015) – Tinkoff-Saxo’s Peter Sagan (SVK), who has posted second place finishes in each of the race’s first three stages, finally earned a first place finish at today’s Stage 4 of the 10th anniversary Amgen Tour of California. The victory brings his record for career wins at the race to 12 over rival sprinter Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team, who now tallies 7 stage wins after winning the 2015 race’s first two stages.
Presented by SRAM, the Stage 4 start in Pismo Beach and finish in Avila Beach were only about 7 miles apart, but the 107.6-mile course between the two beachfronts treated riders to coastal breezes, strawberry fields and plenty of California Central Coast countryside.
Approaching the first sprint in Guadalupe, four riders flew off front including William Clarke (AUS) of Drapac Professional Cycling, who also spent day one in the breakaway, and Gregory Daniel (USA), a young cyclist for Axeon Cycling Team. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s four-time African Time Trial Champion Daniel Teklehaimanot (ERI) gave chase near the second sprint and remained with the breakaway until they were caught just under the 100-mile mark.
Around the halfway mark after the only King of the Mountain (KOM) climb of the day where riders gained more than 1,000 feet of elevation in 4.7 miles on the Category 3 climb, the gap was at 2:30 with Hincapie Racing Team and Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team pacing the peloton through the countryside.
Daniel took the first three sprints and tried to make a solo run to the finish with about 24 kilometers to go, reminiscent of the last time the Amgen Tour of California ended in Avila Beach in 2013, when 2015 Race Ambassador Jens Voigt rode solo to his last win as a professional cyclist.
After stunning the peloton and holding his lead for several miles, 20-year-old Daniel ultimately was pulled back into the peloton as teams began jockeying to put their sprinters into play for a finish line shootout. A flutter of activity in the peloton saw Tinkoff-Saxo and Sagan push their way to the front, trailed closely by Cavendish.
BMC Racing Team’s Daniel Oss (ITA), who gained notice yesterday riding in the breakaway, surprised the assemblage of sprinters by bolting ahead of everyone at the 1 kilometer mark. Drapac Professional Cycling’s Wouter Wippert (NED) responded along with Sagan and Cavendish, who were several positions back. Wippert looked as though he might take the stage in the final meters, but Sagan catapulted past them over the finish line, earning his first stage win after three consecutive days finishing second. Cavendish followed in third.
The only movement on the leader board from today is that Sagan’s performance puts him 10 seconds closer to the general classification leader, now back :22 from Hincapie Racing Team’s Toms Skujins (LAT), who retains the Amgen Race Leader Jersey for another day.
“The team rode brilliantly, so I just had to sit back and relax and enjoy the day,” said Skujins, adding that his team will defend the yellow jersey as long as they can.
STAGE 4 PODIUM
1. Peter Sagan (SVK), Tinkoff-Saxo
2. Wouter Wippert (NED), Drapac Professional Cycling
3. Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
STAGE 4 JERSEY WINNERS
Amgen Race Leader Jersey: Toms Skujins (LAT), Hincapie Racing Team
Visit California Sprint Jersey: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Lexus King of the Mountain Jersey: Toms Skujins (LAT), Hincapie Racing Team
Amgen Breakaway from Cancer® Most Courageous Rider Jersey: Gregory Daniel (USA), Axeon Cycling Team
SRAM Best Young Rider Jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Etixx – Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team
Celebrating its 10th year, the Amgen Tour of California is the most esteemed stage race in the U.S. Amgen has been the title sponsor of the race since its first year.
As part of Amgen’s effort to honor and celebrate cancer survivors and to raise awareness of its Breakaway from Cancer® initiative, a Breakaway Mile walk kicked-off the festivities in Pismo Beach before the start of the race today. Local breast cancer survivor Kristin Alexander was joined by 150 community members in this celebratory walk along the race course to honor the millions of cancer survivors millions worldwide.
“The Breakaway Miles along the Amgen Tour of California route brings together patients, survivors, caregivers and advocates whose lives have all been impacted by cancer,” said Raymond C. Jordan, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at Amgen. “Amgen is proud to celebrate the efforts each of these individuals has contributed to the fight against cancer at this year’s tenth anniversary Amgen Tour of California.”
At the end of today’s stage Kristin Alexander presented the Breakaway from Cancer Most Courageous Rider Jersey to Daniel. This jersey is awarded each day to the cyclist that best exemplifies the character of those engaged in the fight against cancer – courage, sacrifice, inspiration, determination and perseverance.
For more information about Breakaway from Cancer, visit breakawayfromcancer.com.
STAGE 5 TOMORROW, PRESENTED BY VISIT CALIFORNIA:
Thursday, May 14 – Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita (95.7 miles)
Start Time: 11:55 a.m. PDT
Estimated Finish Time: 3:50 p.m. PDT
Fans can cheer on the world-class cyclists as they travel across the state or catch the action with the free Amgen Tour of California app for tablets and mobile devices. More information on ways to watch is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
For further information about the Amgen Tour of California and to experience the race like never before with VIP Access, please visit 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. Amgen Tour of California is listed on the international professional cycling calendar (2 HC, meaning “beyond category”), awarding important, world-ranking points to the top finishers. More information is available at www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.
This year, the men’s course will traverse more than 700 miles and wind through 13 host cities, including Sacramento, Nevada City, Lodi, San Jose, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, L.A. LIVE (Downtown Los Angeles) and Pasadena. The women’s three-day stage race traveled more than 150 miles through South Lake Tahoe and Sacramento, followed by a 15-mile Invitational Time Trial in Big Bear Lake.
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 one of the world’s leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.
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, Mercedes-Benz Arena, Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Best Buy Theater Times Square; sports franchises including the LA Kings (NHL), two Major League Soccer franchises, two hockey franchises operated in Europe, management of privately held shares of the Los Angeles Lakers; 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.
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Michael Roth, AEG
Eileen Tanner, Golin
Diana Valdez, Golin