Race report

Max Walscheid sprints to strong third place in California opener

Amgen Tour of California

The opening day of action at the Tour of California would see the riders take on 143 kilometres, with the stage both starting and finishing in Sacramento. Given the pancake flat route, it was always going to be a day for the sprinters.

A break of four managed to escape almost straight from the gun but they were never given anymore than two minutes of an advantage. With two riders from the breakaway actually dropping back to the peloton, the remaining duo were left to forge on ahead for the last 80 kilometres.

The break was caught with 20 kilometres to go as the peloton headed for the finish circuit in Sacramento. With the pace high, the Team Sunweb train moved towards the front of the race, keeping Max Walscheid safe for the inevitable sprint finish. Once onto the penultimate lap, the team took control of the peloton, stringing out the bunch and keeping Walscheid in a good position. Coming under the flamme rouge and through the last sweeping turn, final lead-out man Bol delivered Walscheid to within the first six spots of the peloton. Delivering a strong kick to the line, Walscheid would sprint to a third place finish on the day, behind stage winner Sagan.

“I’m pretty happy with the start of the Tour of California and very happy with the teamwork we showed today,” explained Walscheid at the finish. “I think we acted with a lot of self confidence and control in the final laps. It went very well into the final kilometre but at that point I took too much wind. I doubted a little which wheel to follow and in the end I was more in the wind than the slipstream. Technically I didn’t do a perfect sprint but I’m still happy to end up third on the stage.”