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"I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I cou...

Photo: Paumer Kare Dhelie Thorstad


22.05.2016 @ 04:26 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) finally got the victory that he has been chasing the entire week when he came out on top in the hilly stage 7 of the Tour of California. Having survived the hilly course, he was given the perfect lead-out by Michael Mørkøv and then narrowly held Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) off in a photo finish, with Danny Van Poppel (Sky) beig a distant third. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) retained the lead on the eve of the final stage.


We have gathered several reactions.


Alexander Kristoff: If he hadn’t been on the attack, Sagan would have beaten me

It was a stage Alexander Kristoff was unsure of at the start of the day - would the climbs be too hard for him or would he still have the answer in a fast sprint to take the win? Once over the last climb, Team Katusha’s Norwegian fast man had the answer he needed – he put his team on the front and kept them there through the closing laps in the city of Santa Rosa. With 200m to go he came off the wheel of teammate Michael Mørkøv and gunned for the line, taking the victory just ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), marking his first win in the Amgen Tour of California in two appearances. The win was the 8th win for Kristoff in the 2016 cycling season and marks the first win in the USA for Team KATUSHA. 


”We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK.  I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France,” said Alexander Kristoff. 


"It was a hard day. This guy [Sagan]  was pretty strong, and we were having trouble to catch him. For me it was more than enough just to sit in the back. I was suffering all day, and at the end I was feeling quite tired and I knew everybody else would be tired also.


"I was surprised looking by my side at the finish line and I saw him there. He was there all the time on the front and also a long time by himself, so he had a really strong ride today. For me it was good that he used a lot of energy because then at the end I just managed to beat him."


Kristoff and Sagan were joined on the stage podium by third place finisher Danny Van Poppel of Team Sky.


Stage 7 returned to Santa Rosa, an area that has hosted many stages of the Amgen Tour of California. The 175,5km stage featured 6 rated climbs including the category 1 King Ridge Road. From a break Peter Sagan went solo and held 2 minutes to the peloton, with the yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe in the group. Sagan tried to hold his advantage but once the majority of the climbs were behind and the groups were coming back to him, he sat up to try his luck in the circuits/ Kristoff had plans of his own and used his team to perfection to earn the victory. 


Team KATUSHA’s Jurgen Van den Broeck currently holds tenth place at +1:48 on the general classification.


“Tomorrow is a really flat stage and I think there will be many sprinters that want to win. So we will see how things go, but of course we want to win again,” concluded Alexander Kristoff.


Excellent Peter Sagan put on a show in California

Stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California was very nearly crowned as the Sagan show as Peter Sagan dominated the stage before then just missing out on the win by a matter of centimetres in a photo finish sprint. Obviously feeling good today, Sagan spent much of the stage up the road before waiting for the bunch, and then had the energy to contest the sprint from the front at the finish.


“That’s Peter – he’s able to do everything,” said Sport Director, Patxi Vila from the finish in Santa Rosa. “Everyday there’s an opportunity, and he has a great repertoire of winning possibilities – in a bunch, solo, even over climbs. It was an incredible ride. Michael Gogl did a strong ride to get in the break and still be there at the finish too, as well as the other guys who helped these two early in the stage – it was a nice team effort.”


It was Gogl who kicked off an active day for Tinkoff as he got clear in a strong group of five on the first climb of the day, pulling out 25” advantage over the peloton. However, the bunch wasn’t going to let that go easily and nine riders bridged across, including Sagan, making a group of 14 at the front.


Despite a hard chase from behind, the leaders pulled out over a two-minute advantage by the second climb of the race, but it was here that the attacks came from behind leaving the break’s advantage shattered. There was a coming together of sorts, but Sagan didn’t ease off, pressing on taking first over the third climb over the day before forcing a break of six to go clear. With ninth place on GC in the move, the bunch weren’t keen to let the group get far ahead, and knowing this was the case, Sagan decided to jump clear with just over 60km to race, going it alone.


He soon set about building his advantage, the move echoing those he made occasionally in the spring classics – just quite a bit further out. He managed to pull out over a minute’s advantage over the chasers who were swallowed up by the peloton, but with sprinters still present the reduced bunch was keen to chase Sagan all the way.


Having gone under the 25km to go banner, Sagan decided to sit up and wait for the chasers behind, saving his energy for the sprint at the end. Vila explained the situation further:


“The plan was actually to get Michael Gogl or Juraj Sagan in the break today, which we achieved with Michael and then Peter bridged across. When he got away in the group of six the guy from Lotto was a GC threat so Peter went solo to see what happened behind. We gambled to see if the sprinters would get dropped and there wouldn’t be much of a chase but when Katusha started to pull we decided to wait for the sprint. Then at the end it was so close in the sprint to the big prize.”

After being caught by the chasing bunch, Sagan set about sitting in the wheels alongside teammate Michael Gogl who helped to keep him in position for the impending sprint. They got a few opportunities to see the finish, with several finishing circuits to cover, but it wasn’t too technical with a large open straight road to the line after a final right hand bend.


Coming out of the last corner, Sagan was right in the wheel of Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who’s team had done all the work in setting up the sprint at the end, and as Kristoff opened up his effort Sagan started coming around but ran out of ground before the line came, leaving him in second by the smallest of margins. The placing, together with the points won at the intermediate sprint earlier in the day, give Sagan a large lead in the points classification ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.


“It was really hard out there today, one of the hardest races I’ve done in my career,” said Michael Gogl after the stage. “It was the whole day full gas so I was pleased I could stay in the front group after having been in the first break. When we caught Peter I tried to support him as much as I could for the sprint.


“I feel like my shape is getting better day by day – it’s my first race since Roubaix – but the hard stages and transfers are tiring. Although I really like the racing here.”


"It was hard day," Sagan said.


"From the start, six or seven riders went away. We had in the breakaway Michael Gogl. One team, Rally, they wanted to catch the breakaway and they started to pull. They got very close to the breakaway and then they attacked, and I also attacked with them. Then there were 10 or 12 guys in the break."


"It's very difficult to ride in the group, because if I am in the group nobody pulls and they let the breakaway go. And if I am in the breakaway everyone is pulling to catch me. It's not my decision what they can do. I'm doing what I want and what I am told.


"They were pulling very slow on the flat I don't know if they wanted to save energy for the final or something. I told them that we had to go because the field was coming. Nobody was working very well, and then I thought, 'OK, I go alone.' I tried, but in the back was a very strong group.


"I asked him [Vila] who was pulling in the back. He said it's organised and a bunch of teams. I said, 'OK, it's impossible to go alone with that wind and also after a lot of kilometres in the legs.' I told him, 'OK, I'll try to recover and I'm going to do the sprint.' And it was OK."


"In the end I tried my sprint. “If I tried to sprint early I could win, but it's not every day. I am very happy with my result and what I did. I am happy also tomorrow we have the finish and I am holding the green jersey, and I am OK."


Danny Van Poppel confirms great form with third place in California

Danny van Poppel secured Team Sky's second podium position at the 2016 Tour of California by sprinting to third place on the penultimate stage.


Van Poppel was the only Team Sky rider left in a vastly-reduced peloton who battled it out for victory in Santa Rosa, and latched onto Peter Sagan's wheel on the long closing straight.


The Dutchman unleashed a powerful sprint in the last 200m but was unable to round the Tinkoff rider, who was denied victory by the tightest of margins as Alexander Kristoff emerged triumphant.


Kristoff was guided into contention by his Katusha team-mates and fought off a determined charge from Sagan to seal his win by a matter of millimetres. Van Poppel meanwhile, held on comfortably to secure the same result as Xabier Zandio on stage five.


Van Poppel bided his time brilliantly in the pack and jumped from wheel to wheel on a fast finishing circuit before sealing his second top-three finish in Team Sky colours.


When caught up with Sport Director Gabriel Rasch afterwards he praised Van Poppel's efforts on what had been a tough day in the saddle.


He told them: "It was very hard out there - the race took place on narrow, heavy roads and it was up and down all day.


"Vasil [Kiryienka] got a flat tyre just before one of the climbs, and Gianni [Moscon] picked up another in the last 50km which meant Danny was on his own for the final.


"Danny did really well though and he should be pleased with that result, especially given that he was up against some really fast guys.


"We'll try and give him a lead out tomorrow and hopefully he can be up there again."

George Bennett inspired by Kruijswijk’s maglia rosa on hilly stage in California

Mike Teunissen attacked, joined the front split and finished fourth in the Amgen Tour of California’s seventh stage on Saturday. Behind stage winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Teunissen, Timo Roosen took ninth.

The penultimate stage in the Tour of California started with a big fight for a place in the breakaway.


“At first, 14 riders escaped with Mike Teunissen among them,” Sports Director Frans Maassen said. “It seemed to be the break of the day, but Trek - Segafredo kept on riding hard in the peloton. The bunch fell apart and the first part came back to the breakaway. George Bennett, Peter Sagan [Tinkoff] and three other riders broke away afterwards, but they didn’t get enough space.”

“It was a really hard day,” Bennett added. “We raced full-gas from the first kilometre to the finish. I felt superb. The attacks started early and some overall riders tried it, as well. At one part of the stage, there were only five of us left. From there, we caught the early break and I felt it was the moment to go as the other competitors for the general classification were isolated. It didn’t work out.


"There was so much variation and I guess motives and ability. Obviously I was riding for time to get on GC and the other guys were a bit scared of the climb, the second category, and I probably wasn't scared enough of the climb,” he told Cyclingnews.


"You can’t criticise Peter because I know what he was doing, he didn’t want me there because of the GC but once he attacked it doomed the breakaway. I just rode too hard and came unstuck on the climb actually. I had one bad moment. I actually came back pretty well with Lawson [Craddock] but I wanted to race. Yesterday, I felt bad because the boys have put in a lot of work for me all week and then, I can’t say I had a bad day yesterday, I just haven’t ridden my time trial bike more than there times.


"I felt good but just couldn’t get the watts out on the bike and you can’t be surprised if you haven’t trained for it. I felt a little bit bad after that and wanted to race. Our director this morning wasn’t very optimistic I could make up any time."


"I love that small windy stuff and that’s when you really see the difference. The guys that were getting away, that were really at the front were the guys from Europe or the Americans who race in Europe. I loved today. Today was one of the funnest days of racing I think I’ve ever had. Its almost a shame that a stage that hard ended in a bunch sprint. It was incredible and by the numbers it was a really hard, fast day.


"I am surprised it ended [like that]. And there were so many guys there, which is a credit to the Americans and local teams, no disrespect or anything, but they were still there after such an extremely testing day with the roads and stuff like that."

A big group of riders, with general classification riders, sprinted for the stage victory, eventually.


“I finally succeeded in my aim to be part of the breakaway,” Teunissen said. “I wasn’t able to enjoy it very long because it was a tough race. With the help of Timo Roosen, I grabbed a nice fourth place, eventually.”

“It’s great that Mike was able to finish fourth today after all the work he did for me this week,” Bennett added. “It was a special day for our team with Steven Kruijswijk taking the pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia. I wanted to make it even better, but I couldn’t do more than this, unfortunately.”


Trek-Segafredo try to blow hilly California stage to pieces

Trek-Segafredo went into the 175.5-kilometer stage seven motivated and ready for an aggressive race, but despite playing a significant part in the heated action for the first-half, the stage ended in a reduced bunch sprint and Jasper Stuyven sprinted to 6th place.


Peter Stetina, racing on home roads, started with a vengeance for a disappointing time trial yesterday that dropped him out of the top 10 in the overall classification. Stetina initiated an early five-man breakaway in the first categorized climb, and when the peloton quickly reacted to snuff out the escape, Jasper Stuyven bridged into the next dangerous move numbering 14 riders.


"We were pretty motivated to leave a stamp on this race," said Stetina. "I wanted a bit of revenge, especially being in my hometown. I initiated the major move in the first part of the race over Harrison Grade; I took maximum points at the KOM. We were five and worked well together, but the teams were not happy with that, and they shut it down.


"A new break formed with Jasper in it which was good. I attacked again over the cat-1 climb trying to bridge, and that set off a string of attacks from the GC contenders. It was an aggressive race and we tried to really make it, but with such a flat run-in to the line, it was impossible.


"It was more like 100 single body blows to [race leader] Alaphilippe rather than one big knock-out punch with all the guys attacking and no one talking and working together, but hats off to Etixx-Quick Step, they survived it. By Coleman Valley, everyone spent all their bullets and were so fried."


The attacks by second-placed Rohan Dennis (BMC) set off alarms in the peloton, creating a fierce pursuit over relentless hills. Despite the fast pace over numerous steep climbs, everything came back together, albeit with reduced numbers.


As everything settled a six-man breakaway slipped off the front, but control was back in the bunch. The second half of the stage played out in a traditional sprint stage formula with Team Katusha taking the reins and slowly reeling in the last of the escapees to set up a bunch sprint in Santa Rosa.


Director Kim Andersen said: "We wanted to have a good race after the chrono where we all agreed we fell short of expectations. But when it's the second last day in a stage race, every team has something to defend – a mountains jersey, a 5th place – and it's very, very difficult to break it open. Especially, because it was flat in the end. We really tried in the start. But when you see a peloton of around 30 riders and there were still five sprinters there… Then it's difficult to make it."


Jasper Stuyven, who had already played a prominent role in the early action, was ready for the fast finish in Santa Rosa, and the team helped him into prime position at the front.


"For the final sprint, I was in good position but with the headwind, I should have moved a little bit earlier - with 500 meters to go - because I was boxed in too much. Not the best sprint I have done," said Stuyven.


"I think I moved into the breakaway in the right moment because there were 12 guys up the road after they caught Pete," added Stuyven about the dangerous breakaway he joined in the first part of the race. "When we got caught by the peloton, I was really surprised to see all the sprinters still there, and then the race was very controlled."


Tomorrow the Amgen Tour of California wraps up with a much shorter and pancake flat stage eight, which will likely play out in another fast bunch finish. With two fast finishers in Stuyven and Niccolo Bonifazio, Trek-Segafredo will be ready to play again in the final day.


John Degenkolb back in the top 10, big scare for Laurens ten Dam

John Degenkolb has continued to make progression at the Amgen Tour of California, surviving a tough, fast stage over a succession of short, steep climbs to make the select front group and sprinting for a top ten finish. Also a part of the reduced front group was Laurens ten Dam who finished safely in the wheels to conserve his top ten on GC.


After a fast and frantic start, Caleb Fairly managed to get clear in a strong breakaway of 14 riders, but with some GC contenders making the move the peloton wasn’t keep to let this group get too far ahead. That said they held over two-minutes going into the second KOM, but this climb sparked attacks from behind and spelt the end of the breakaway in front.


Over the climbs which came thick and fast, a group of six riders eventually got clear and built an advantage of a minute, before one rider went clear and spend 40km riding solo at the front of the race ahead of a regrouped, but small peloton containing Degenkolb and ten Dam.


There was a scare when ten Dam crashed on a technical descent after having attacked, but the team waited and fought their way back, eventually getting him back to the front after a big effort.


Degenkolb moved himself into position for the final effort. With Kristoff opening up the sprint, Degenkolb was a little too far back but put in a strong push for the line to take eighth. Ten Dam came over the line in 35th and keeps his eighth place on GC.


After the stage, coach Aike Visbeek said: “It was a hard, hilly stage out there today. Everything went according to plan, with Laurens attacking on the main climb with Lawson (Craddock) and (Samuel) Sanchez, but unfortunately he crashed hard on the decent.


“I am extremly proud of the team – Laurens crashed really hard and we were minutes behind him when he came down, and by the time we reached him he had just climbed out of the ravine. The guys waited for him and brought him back into contention to keep his GC fight going. Equally impressive was John’s ride today, he was still there in the final after a hard stage and took eighth. He still has to get more comfortable in the hectic sprints but he’s getting better and better. Laurens will undergo further medical checks later to assess the damage.”


“I felt really strong today, and I attacked on the third climb of the day because today was a good day to move up in GC,” explained tean Dam. “I crashed hard on the decent but thanks to my team and teammates I was able to get back on the bike and find myself back in the race. I chased for very long time but am still sitting in eighth in GC which is a bit of a miracle looking at how hard I crashed.”


Degenkolb added: “I am surprised and pleased that I could make the first group today looking at the profile. In the sprint I lost some positions but we stayed calm.


"This is what I can't train at home. So for me that's really good. I need this high intensity right now. But we will see what's going on in the Tour."


Big scare for American sensation on difficult day in California

Neilson Powless survived a high-speed tire blowout, a separate crash and he needed a furious chase to preserve his lead Saturday in the SRAM "best young rider" standings at the Amgen Tour of California.

Ruben Guerreiro's 10th-place finish led the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team in the 175.5-kilometer race that started and finished in downtown Santa Rosa. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) narrowly denied world road champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) a third stage win this week while Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) was third.

In the overall standings, Powless remains fifth, 68 seconds behind race leader Juliian Alaphlippe (Etixx-Quick Step) with one day to go. The 19-year-old from Roseville, California, said he was fortunate again to have the support of his teammates when bad luck struck.
Initially, Powless had help from several teammates after his tire blew out. Will Barta was there to hand over one of his wheels, just as he did on Stage 5 on Thursday, and Geoffrey Curran waited to pace him back.

But not long thereafter, Powless was stopped again - this time after crashing on a descent of one of the six categorized climbs. Fortunately, it was not a serious mishap.

"The whole time leading up to getting out to the coast - the farthest point from the start - I was chasing," Powless said. "For the finish, I told Ruben I was not good so they wouldn't expect me to sprint. I was trying to be very clear with the guys about the way I was feeling. I am happy with holding the jersey and it was a good day in the end."

Powless was not the only Axeon Hagens Berman rider to go down Saturday. Tao Geoghegan Hart also crashed on a technical descent. The 21-year-old from Great Britain said after the race he was OK. He sits 14th overall at 2:55, just ahead of Guerreiro, in 15th, at 3:17.

Like they have been all week, Axeon Hagens Berman riders were in the thick of the action early on. This time, it was Latvian Under 23 national road champion Krists Neilands who was mixing it up. The 21-year-old was part of a 14-man group that slipped away on a day when the up-and-down nature and remoteness of the course even made race communications difficult.

"On one of the climbs, the group split," Neilands said. "I tried an attack and Sagan came with me and eventually it became seven. But I got a message from Sport Director Jeff Louder that I could not work. That made everyone in the breakaway very angry at me. But I was just doing the job for the team.

Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx said on a day when the pace was high and the racing was aggressive, it was good to see the team's eight riders respond so quickly.

"For example, Neilson's crash happened at the worst possible time so we had to send half the team back to help him," Merckx said. "Then, just as he got back on, he had a crash. So he was chasing again. But all the guys on the team did a great job of getting Neilson back up to the yellow jersey group."

Sunday's final stage is a 136.5 km race that starts and finishes in Sacramento.


BMC put Alaphilippe under pressure with aggressive ride in California

Amgen Tour of California Stage 7 started and finished in Santa Rosa, the home of BMC Racing Team Headquarters, and there was no lack of BMC representation at the front of the race.


Greg Van Avermaet was one of the few riders who was able to stay out in front despite constant changes in the breakaway composition. It was only after 80 killometers of racing that a group of five riders including Van Avermaet were able to gain an advantage over one minute and start to create some space between themselves and the peloton.


After the fifth categorised climb of the day Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) launched a solo attack of the front of the leading group but eventually the peloton came back together ahead of the final three laps around Santa Rosa and a bunch sprint for the line saw Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) take the win.


Despite spending most of the day out in breakaway, Van Avermaet dug deep to challenge in the sprint, finishing just out the top ten, in eleventh place.


There was no change at the top of the General Classification following today’s stage with Rohan Dennis and Brent Bookwalter finishing safely in the main bunch. They will now head into the final stage second and third respectively on the General Classification behind Julian Alaphilippe (Ettix-Quick-Step)


Sport director, Jackson Stewart said: “It was a hard day today. Everyone knew that the roads would be narrow with really steep climbs and a lot of people had a lot of motivations to get into the breakaway and move up on GC. Everyone just really threw it down and rode really aggressively. We had Greg [Van Avermaet] in the mix and [Danilo] Wyss but unfortunately Wyss got a double puncture came out of that group. When that first group splintered, Greg was able to ride into another group and stay out in front for a bit longer.


“The pressure was really on today for Alaphilippe’s team today and we tried some attacks but it just didn’t play out for us. We gave it everything we could today. It was a strong showing from our team, we have a really good run and everyone riding really aggressively. In the end there were some big sprinters who had made it over the climbs and, like [Peter] Sagan when he sat up on his solo ride, we knew it would come down to a bunch sprint.”


Greg Van Avermaet said: “It was a pretty hard day today. I was in the breakaway and we tried to do something with our GC guys to break it up all the time but it was not easy because everybody was defending their own spots in the top ten so everybody was riding after each other so it was hard to do something. We tried a couple of times and in the end it all came together for the bunch sprint.


“In the sprint I tried hard to make another good result but after being in the breakaway it was not that easy, my legs were not that fresh but for me it was going really good until the final 300 meters. I think I was in a good position and then as soon as the sprint got properly started I was a little bit boxed in and after that it’s hard to catch up with the front guys. Although I wasn’t too happy about my sprint, I was happy about my form over the whole day so that is something to focus on.”


Julian Alaphilippe: Today I had a lot of enemies

On paper, stage 7 of the Tour of California (Santa Rosa – Santa Rosa, 175.5 kilometers) could have concluded either way, with a win from the escape or one from a bunch gallop At one point, no less than 14 riders made it into the breakaway, many of them from such teams as BMC, LottoNL-Jumbo and Trek-Segafredo, which infiltrated men in that move in order to put pressure on race leader Julian Alaphilippe, who was holding a 16-second advantage over Rohan Dennis, his closest rival in the general classification.


With a rolling terrain lying ahead, the pace was a relentless one on the first four categorized climbs of the day, when the peloton exploded following the countless breakaway attempts. Having the clear goal of protecting Alaphilippe, who was wearing the yellow jersey for the fourth consecutive day, Etixx – Quick-Step proceded to taking things into its own hands and controlling the escapees. On the final three ascents, as a result of the work put in by our riders, the gap decreased and it became only a matter of time until the break was reeled in, on the flat run-in to Santa Rosa, where three laps on a pan-flat circuit awaited.


In the last kilometer, Katusha drove the peloton for Alexander Kristoff, who notched the win ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Danny van Poppel (Team Sky). In the same time as the winner came Julian Alaphilippe, who had Petr Vakoč alongside to help him safely negotiate the hectic finale. Thanks to the strong effort of the team, the Frenchman will now go into stage 8 (Sacramento – Sacramento, 138 kilometers) with a margin which allows him to hope that he'll add the Tour of California to his palmares.


"My opponents tried to make the stage as hard as possible and attacks came from all over the place in the first two hours, but my team was incredible and responded to each and every action, and I must thank the guys for their outstanding work and for the way they fought", said Alaphilippe referring to the action-packed Saturday afternoon. "The race is not over yet, and even though tomorrow's stage should be an easy one, we'll stay focused and keep an eye out for any move. Our outfit is a strong one, we showed a fantastic team spirit since the start of the competition and we're confident ahead of tomorrow."


“Today I think for me it was the hardest stage of the week, because I really felt the pressure on my shoulders…I had a lot of enemies today. But I finally stay in yellow for tomorrow, and it’s not finished yet but I’m really, really happy to keep my yellow jersey again today after a really hard stage…It’s not finished, so we will see tomorrow.”


"I hope it's going to be more easy than today, because it was really hard. The first part of the race was always à bloc. Fortunately, it is the last stage tomorrow and we will see.


"I can win the race for sure, but I can also lose the race. I'm confident in my team because I have strong big guys for the flat stage, and we will do our best. I hope it's going to be a good day for my team and also for me. I've never won a general classification in my young career, so it's going to be my first good win. So I can be happy, but it's not finished."


"Dennis attacked in the really uphill, and I wanted to stay a little bit behind because my teammate [Petr] Vakoc was with him. I was not on stress. I know it's a long way to go and I was in the group. So it was really hard and finally we were back together. I was not surprised. I knew there would be a lot of attacks today."


"I hope to do the Tour this year. It's not official, so I take a rest after this race. I will be in Dauphine and then national championships, and then I hope to ride my first big tour." 


Dimension Data target stage win with Cavendish on final day in California

Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot (pictured above) once again flew the flag of Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka on stage 7 of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. He was part of an early 14 rider break which formed after the first of today’s six categorized climbs. It was an illustrious group with riders like Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Greg Van Avermaet. However, they were not allowed to stay away.


Teklehaimanot defended his top20 position, going into the final stage in 18th place overall. Stage 8 in Sacramento is going to be one for the sprinters.


Sports director Roger Hammond said:

“Today’s stage of the Amgen Tour of California was one of the hardest of this year’s race. Daniel rode attentively and was able to defend his position in the overall. Tomorrow will be a fast stage, which will likely finish with a sprint. It another chance for us to win a stage here and we’ll go for it.”


Lawson Craddock: The Tour of California has been a brutal race

Cannondale had Lawson Craddock on the attack.


"It was just a really aggressive day of racing all around," Craddock said. "Everyone wanted to make it hard, and that's exactly what we did. Oh my god! California stepped it up this year. It was a really brutal race, but it was a lot of fun."


Novo Nordisk captain on the hunt for time bonuses in California

Team Novo Nordisk’s Javier Megias bridged up to a breakaway during Stage 7 of the Tour of California and earned a time bonus by taking third through the final intermediate sprint. The Spaniard remains in the top 20 overall. 


Saturday’s 109.1-mile race featured six categorized climbs before three finishing laps in downtown Santa Rosa. The day began with a large 14-man breakaway but as the race reached Hauser Bridge Road, it came back together and five new riders attacked. Megias’ goal for the day way to move back into the top 15 overall, so he bridged up to this group on the hunt for time bonuses.


Five kilometers before the day’s final intermediate sprint, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) attacked the break. Megias took third through the ensuing sprint and then slipped back to the peloton in anticipation of a bunch finish. With 20 kilometers remaining, Sagan and the other escapees had all been reeled in by the peloton. When the race reached the finishing circuits, only 41 riders made the front group. Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) won the reduced bunch sprint with Megias finishing in the same time. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) retained the overall leader jersey with Megias in 16th overall, 3:18 behind. 


“I think today was the hardest day of the race. It was really fast from the gun. I tried to do my best. I made the break in an attempt to get some seconds for the general classification but it was really, really, really difficult and I didn’t have anything left in my legs,” Megias said. “Overall, I’m really happy, especially with my team, and I hope to carry this form into the next races.”



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