Peter Sagan, trying to jump-start a frustrating 2019 season, found a return to California was just what he needed as the Slovak won the opening stage of the Tour of California.
The three-time world champion freelanced his way to the front of the opening stage Sunday and then held off Travis McCabe of the USA Cycling team to earn his 17th career win in North America’s biggest stage race.
Sagan had only one victory this season, a meager amount of success for arguably the world’s most versatile rider. Some thought he was still feeling the lingering effects of a crash at last year’s Tour de France, though the Slovakian insisted all along that he was close to form.
McCabe nearly caught him at the finish line in downtown Sacramento in what would have been a monumental upset. Max Walscheid rounded out the podium for Team Sunweb, which set a frantic pace over the final couple of miles to set up the sprint finish.
”I felt great. I was closing in on him,” McCabe said. ”I had to come from two or three wheels back of Peter, and I knew this stage has a slightly false-flat, so I waited until I needed to go.
”Losing to a world champion,” McCabe added, ”is not a bad thing.”
The second stage Monday takes riders 122 miles (194.5k) from the start in Rancho Cordova to the popular skiing destination of South Lake Tahoe. The crucial climbing stages come later in the week, but riders will still navigate nearly 15,000 feet (4,570m) of ascent in what could shake up the general classification.
Tour of California 2019 – stage 1 results (Sacramento – Sacramento):
|1||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|2||Travis McCabe (USA)|
|3||Maximilian Walscheid (Team Sunweb)|
|4||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Ineos)|
|5||Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|6||Owain Doull (Team Ineos)|
|7||John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo)|
|8||Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Merida)|
|9||Erik Baska (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|10||Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates)|