Peter Sagan is the King of Cali. The lime green machine of Liquigas-Cannondale and Sagan have now won five stages in the last three editions of the race.
Sagan has already won the first two stages of this year’s Tour of California — and let’s not forget two years ago he won at Big Bear and that’s back on the menu for stage six.
While more than a few experts thought the climbs of Bonny Doon and Bear Creek Road would break up the peloton, it never happened. Once the riders came down off the descent, it was Liquigas who went to the front in mass.
Timmy Duggan, the Coloradan on the Italian squad, drove the pace for what seemed like forever with Milan San Remo and Liege Bastogne runner-up Vincenzo Nibali in second wheel. Imagine you’re Duggan knowing that a tremendous descender like Nibali is inches from your rear wheel. One sloppy corner and you take down a guy building for the Tour de France. You also don’t get invited to his house for a few bottles of killer Barolo and pasta.
Sagan was content to cruise in third and fourth wheel, totally in control despite being involved in an earlier crash. Even though he’s just 22 years of age, nothing seems to mess with his confidence or concentration. Tom Boonen cited Sagan as one of the “cowboys” who take dangerous risks in the sprint but he hasn’t taken anybody down Ferrari-style and the major wins just keep coming.
In fact, he’s so confident in his bike handling skills that he hit the final right hander at speed and nailed it while plenty of other sprinters mis-judged their line and touched their brakes. He pulled away for an impressive win. There’s a strong possibility he’ll have the leaders jersey until the Tour hits the oil and gas town of Bakersfield for the time trial.
“With two climbs in the end of the stage today I am really happy to win,” said Sagan. “I was thinking when I was still in the front group on the last climb I would try and win another stage. I knew the last corner was close to the finish so I decided to take the turn from the first position, and I won the stage.”
Yesterday’s runner-up Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) was again stuck with second place while Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) watched Sagan win from third place.
The dominance of Liquigas-Cannondale is even more apparent if you figure in their three sprint wins in last years’ inaugural US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Their young sprinter Elia Viviani won two stage and his lead out man Daniel Oss took the final sprint in Denver. (Once again, Timmy Duggan was at the front of that train.) All told, the math says eight stages total for the lime green gas and bike dudes.
Twisted Spoke sends out a certified organic, free trade cotton chapeau to Pete Sagan, honorary California.