Boonen sprints to top 10 on Tour of California opening day
In his first race in more than a month, the Belgian was up there with the sprinters in San Diego.
The 11th edition of the Tour of California started out with a 175-km long stage, which included just a categorized climb on the course, but as this came long before the finish, it didn't have any impact whatsoever on the outcome. Oscar Clark (Holowesko Citadel), Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare), Joonas Henttala (Novo Nordisk), Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Daniel Patten (Team Wiggins), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly) and Michael Sheehan (Jelly Belly) have gone up the road and stretched their lead to nearly seven minutes before the teams regrouped and began pushing a scorching pace.
Their job was made easier in the final 20 kilometers of the stage by the fact that the escapees stopped working together and launched one attack after another, so the gap came down and eventually they got caught in time before the crazy dash to the line in San Diego, which was hosting a stage finish for the first time since the inception of the race.
In the last kilometers, Etixx – Quick-Step took the front together with Giant-Alpecin and Katusha, and prepared the sprint for Tom Boonen, who was racing for the first time since coming runner-up in Paris-Roubaix. Despite a chaotic sprint – won by Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) ahead of Wouter Wippert (Cannondale) and Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) – the 35-year-old Belgian managed to find his way through the bunch and concluded in 8th position, a result which gives an extra boost of confidence to the team ahead of the next stages of the US event.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele