Sagan returns to 'his' Tour of California, Cavendish ready for sprint battles
May 12 2018 01:16 pm CET

Sagan returns to 'his' Tour of California, Cavendish ready for sprint battles
Sagan returns to 'his' Tour of California, Cavendish ready for sprint battles
Tour of California

This year's Tour of California, which begins in Long Beach on Sunday, hosts a string of impressive names.

The GC will be a battle between Rafal Majka, Egan Bernal, Adam Yates, Tejay van Garderen and Daniel Martinez, while the sprints will be contested with names as Alexander Kristoff, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan. The most impressive name on the start list however, is that of three times World Champion and winner of the 2015 Tour of California, Peter Sagan.

Sagan returns to the race where he is always successful. With 16 stage wins and a GC he is by far the most successful rider in this race. Since his debut in 2010 he has participated and won at least one stage every year.

During the press conference on Friday, Sagan was cryptic as ever. He does not like these press moments ahead of a race and again he had little to say. However, when he spoke, he had nothing but good things to say about the race. "I have only good memories from here. Every year I have won some stages and one year I won the overall classification. That was the biggest thing I've done here," the Slovakian World Champion told the press.

When asked about the Tour de France and his preparations for it, he answered: "This year, the Tour is a little later and everything is a bit changed, but we're here and I think riding a race is better than training."

Another former World Champion at the start is Mark Cavendish. To say that the Brit had an unlucky early season is an understatement, with DNF's in his last 4 races. He started well with a victory in the Dubai Tour, but after this he was involved in one crash after another. He crashed on stage one of the Abu Dhabi Tour and had to abandon, when he returned in the Tirreno-Adriatico he hit the deck during the opening team time trial and arrived outside the time limit. After having recovered from this, he crashed out of Milan-San Remo after hitting a traffic bollard and flipped over his bike. He returned in Yorkshire but abandoned his home race during stage 4.

The Dimension Data rider set out his goals for this race during Friday's press conference. "Like Caleb [Ewan] says, this is a good place to test each other before the Tour de France, but for me that's not really the case. I'm still building back up, but for sure I'm not just here to mill around a bit. You only get better by trying and getting involved, and I'll be getting involved in the sprint days and we'll be looking to be successful as a team throughout the week."

Cavendish is the second most successful rider in the Tour of California when it comes to stage wins. With 10 wins in 6 participations so far, Cavendish feels at home in California. "I'm very happy to be back at the Amgen Tour of California," the Manxman said. "I was sad to have to watch on television last year, but I'm finally back again, and as always I'm glad we have a stage in Sacramento. I've won there every time I've been there in recent years, so that's kind of a nice finish to the race. If you have good memories, there's always a positive kind of influence to how you ride."

The Tour of California starts on Sunday in Long Beach, and finishes in Sacramento 7 days later. There will be three chances for the sprinters, on stage 1, 5 and 7, while the climbers can show themselves in stage 2, 3 and 6. Stage four is a 34.7 km long time trial, so whoever is going to win the GC is going to need strong time trialling skills.

By Siebe Kok




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