Peter Sagan of Liquigas-Cannondale made it an incredible five out of eight today, winning the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California, while Rabobank’s Robert Gesink finished safely in the pack to win the overall title.
“This is my best win,” Gesink said just after the finish. “I’ve done really good results in the past, but this is a whole new thing. This is the most special one I’ve ever had.
“It’s good to be back in California and be winning again,” he added. “I’m very happy for this tour of California. I’m feeling good.”
Sagan took advantage of a perfect leadout train by Tom Boonen’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step, and then sprinted past the big Belgian on the line.
“I’m very glad and thanks to my team,” said Sagan. “I like this country!”
“The last kilometer was very fast and the last turn was dangerous – its good we went by it six times. I went from 150 meters back and just finished first.”
There was no change in the top three on GC, as Gesink finished 46 seconds ahead of second place finisher David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) – his fourth runner-up finish in the Amgen Tour – with Zabriskie’s teammate Thomas Danielson in third, 54 seconds back.
“The time trial was a high point,” Zabriskie said. “Really, really good; really, really strong. I knew what I had to do on Baldy, and didn’t really have it.
“Last year, when they put the Baldy in, I really felt the chance of me doing well here was pretty slim. And then this year, I was able to get second with Baldy and Big Bear,” he said. “Definitely, I think I showed I can win this race if I continue with this sport,” he added to laughter.
Danielson shared his teammate’s enthusiasm. “Overall, the team rode a phenomenal race,” he said. “The young team had to support three guys, and they did a phenomenal job, they rode above themselves.”
Gesink pulled on the jersey after a thrilling victory in that Mt. Baldy stage – this year’s Queen stage, held Saturday – and his team protected him well today. He is enjoying great results again, after a tough 2011 when his father died.
He said he had his father in mind during the race. “He always was my biggest fan. He was here [at the Amgen Tour] once – he had the best time of his life. He was a great guy.”
Sagan won the first four straight stages of this Amgen Tour, and took another one on the line today. Before the tour began, BMC rider Taylor Phinney had predicted the Slovakian would win four – he did that and one more.
He said after the race that he will ride in the Tour de France, as well as the Olympics and world championships. “I think Mark Cavendish is very strong. I think, for a sprint, when we have a flat stage, it’s very hard to be with Mark Cavendish,” he added. “But, maybe some stage for me, with some climbs and the race finishes on the flat is good for me. I don’t know. We’ll see at the Tour de France.”
In third today was Boonen’s teammate and last leadout man German Gerald Cioleck in the same time.
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