Race: Amgen Tour of California Stage 1 (WorldTour)
Date: May 13, 2018
Weather: Overcast, 18-20°C
Winner’s quote: “I felt pretty good during the race and had pretty good legs. I’m really happy with the really good job from my team, and we are happy to win the stage,” said Gaviria, who is in his third race since returning from an injury suffered at Tirreno-Adriatico. “I don’t know if I’m surprised. I’ve been training at home for this, and I think it’s good to come back and win. I tried to come back really strong at Romandie, but it was difficult because of the climbs. After that I went to Eschborn-Frankfurt, and the legs were better, and now I’ve come back to win here, which I’m really happy about.”
Critical point: When Mitchelton-Scott’s Roger Kluge flatted inside two laps to go, Ewan’s final lead-out man had to chase back and expend energy he could have used to launch his teammate’s sprint. It’s not clear how much Kluge’s chase took from his lead-out, but it certainly didn’t help.
“Roger Kluge had a puncture – I can’t remember if it was the last lap or the second to last lap – which wasn’t ideal, and then he had to come back,” Ewan said at the post-race press conference. “We were kind of waiting in the middle of the bunch for him, and that kind of left our train to get to the front a bit later. I waited for them, and eventually we got there inside the last K.”
Final kilometre: With the wide streets in downtown Long Beach, several teams jockeyed to move to the front across the road. The Quick-Step train moved Gaviria into position and he powered past Ewan, but not before a few bumping sessions with Hagens Berman Axeon’s Jasper Philipsen. But the stage winner wasn’t rattled, and was able to surge again, raising his hands well before the line, a few bike lengths clear. Sagan made a final charge to the right of the winner, nearly catching Ewan but ended up third ahead of Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).
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