Will Routley made good on three days in the breakaway Wednesday, winning stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California in Cambria. Routley (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) out-sprinted five breakaway companions to take victory in the 103-mile stage from Monterey.
Gregory Daniel (Bissell Development) was second and Kevin De Mesmaeker (Novo Nordisk) was third.
“Things were a little better than planned,” said Routley. “The goal was to go in the break for the KOM points again. It was a little harder to get in the break than in the last few days — I had a couple teammates launch me across to it. I’ve been feeling reall,y really good sprinting at the top of the climbs. That was my whole focus just to lock that down. But I came here with the goal to win a stage, that’s what I’ve wanted to do every time I’ve come to the Tour of California, and this time I felt like I was prepared and ready. I wasn’t expecting that today was going to be the day.”
Bradley Wiggins (Sky) maintained his overall lead with four days of racing remaining. Officials scored a split between Moreno Hofland (Belkin), in 20th, and Ted King (Cannondale), in 21st, which dropped second-overall Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) four seconds on GC, to 28 seconds behind the 2012 Tour de France champion.
Six riders jumped loose of the peloton in the stage’s early going: Routley, Daniel, De Mesmaeker, Chris Jones and Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), and Matt Cooke (Jamis-Hagens Berman).
“The nearest guy in the breakaway was 15 minutes [down on GC], so we had a pretty easy day,” said Wiggins. “We assisted in the chase out of respect for the jersey more than anything. With that tailwind in the run-in, it was always going to be difficult to bring back three minutes at 25 kilometers to go. The speeds were quite high during the run-in.”
Routley, who has landed in the escape on each of the race’s three road stages, defended his climber’s jersey from the front, taking top points at the day’s final two categorized climbs. But the former Canadian road champion left enough in the tank to unleash a race-winning sprint at the line.
Clarke led out the sprint and De Mesmaeker jumped first inside the final half-kilometer. Routley surged up the right side of the road to beat back the Belgian and held on for his first career Amgen Tour win.
“You know for sure, you can win, but you can make a mistake so easily,” said Routley. “These are all veteran bike racers. These guys know what they’re doing.”
Daniel came around De Mesmaeker to land second.
The Amgen Tour of California continues Thursday with the 107-mile fifth stage, from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara.