Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) continued his unbeaten streak at the Amgen Tour of California with his third stage victory in as many days in Livermore. The Slovak champion and Tour of California leader once again turned on the afterburners to win a field sprint finale, with Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) garnering his own second place result for the third straight stage. Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) rounded out the top three.
Sagan continues to lead general classification and added to his advantage with the winner’s time bonus. The Liguigas-Cannondale rider leads Haussler by 12 seconds and Jeffry Louder (United Healthcare) by 24 seconds.
However, the story of the stage from an Irish point of view was the performance of former national champion, Nicolas Roche. With the final climb on the stage being a medium tough Category 3 and situated approx 20km from home, Roche attacked the peloton along with Fabio Duarte of the Colombia – Coldeportes team. Ultimately their plight was not fruitful but the pair crested the climb in that order with a 25 second lead, but with a gentle descent, a straightforward run to the line, and the peloton reforming with most of the sprinters present, they were eventually reeled in by the peloton with just over 7km left.
“I just thought that when Duarte went on the climb I’d give it a shot, too. It wasn’t planned at all. I was just riding at the front of the bunch and hoping that something would happen,” Roche said. “I was thinking that a proper group would go ahead and just not wait for the sprint scenario, but unfortunately it happened again, another sprint scenario. You know, I’m not going to win sprints, so you have to try thinking that way. I’ll try again when I get the opportunity, like today. … It was good to get a bit of thrill of attacking on the climbs. I haven’t been feeling good lately, and just getting the legs turning around again, I’m enjoying it.”
Nicolas Roche eventually finished in 47th place on the same time as the stage winner, he remains in 36th place in the General Classification, 30 seconds behind the yellow jersey of Peter Sagen. Irelands other rider in the race is Philip Deignan of United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team, he has had a quiet enough Tour so far but remains on the same time as Roche and both cyclists are well set for a good GC finish.