Cavendish beats dazed Sagan.
A few observations from the final 10k of stage 2 of the Tour of California.
This was a guaranteed, genuine sprinters stage and with Mark Cavendish taking a that-was-easy-win over Peter Sagan and company, a second win had high odds.
On the way into Lodi for three circuits, the action heated up and so did the questions. As in, what the fruit loops was Drapac doing up from, forming a train at 6-7k to go? This seemed premature and doomed from the beginning.
The boys in red had 3-4 riders up front and TV coverage was nice but premature burnout was a given. Did they think they were going to wear out Etixx-Quickstep, a well-drilled and confident World Tour squad with Cavendish in toe?
Sure enough they ran out of gas and while their whippet, Wouter Wippert, managed a nice third, perhaps he might have pulled the upset if they’d held fire for a few more K.
Draped went early and MTN-Qhubeka went haywire. Really, what’s the exact plan for these guys? They have four sprinters and everything seems like ad-lib, grab bag, throw sprinters against wall, see what sticks.
Tyler Farrar, Matthew Goss, Gerald Ciolek and Theo Bos don’t seem to be a cohesive force. Race announcer and former Garmin teammate Christian Vande Velde said Farrar had a shot at the podium but that seemed to be the overly generous assessment of a hopeful friend. MTN got nothing out of the first two stages.
Goss in particular seems to be heading toward total invisibility. Then again, tough for anyone to beat Cavendish when his training is flying and he’s on a roll. We just question this band of opportunists who have trouble with well-executed plans. We’d love to see the classy Farrar pick up a win but that has long shot written all over it.
Which brings us to Oleg Tinkov’s least productive superstar, Peter Sagan. After Cav crushed him in Sacramento yesterday, Sagan made all the right moves in Lodi yet missed a redemptive win by mere inches. Video images of Sagan’s face moments after the finish show a guy who looked numb with disappointment and confusion.
Sagas has had so much fun in California over the years with 11 wins to his credit. California was the one place in the world where he was guaranteed victories, fan adulation and endless good times. Now, even California has become another pressure-filled stage for failure. Oleg Tinkov is in Italy at the Giro but Sagan can feel the Russian’s long and angry shadow.
The Pistachio pitchman Cavendish has taken control at the Tour of California. Greipel is in Italy, Kittel is sick, Sagan is dazed and confused and MTN-Qhubeka just plain lost.
The grin on Mark Cavendish’s face just keeps getting bigger.