Defending champion Peter Sagan returns to Tour of California

Following a break after the successful Spring Classics campaign, combined with a few mountain bike forays to test his off-road form, 13-time stage winner at the race Peter Sagan will return to road action at the Amgen Tour of California this May. Sagan won the event in 2015 and will be looking to add to his tally of stage successes at this year’s edition.

Joining Peter Sagan at the eight-day race in America will be many riders that also supported him in the classics. These riders include Erik Baška, Adam Blythe, Oscar Gatto, Michael Gogl, Michael Kolar and Nikolay Trusov. The line-up is completed by Peter’s brother Juraj who made strong progression during the spring, and will be starting his first Tour of California.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back this race – it’s a great event at which I have some really good memories,” said the Tinkoff leader before starting his journey over to America. “The Amgen Tour of California means a lot to me, it’s a race I’ve liked competing at over the past years and it has now become a tradition in my program. Previously, in California, I’ve been very successful and I believe that, after a little rest, I will be back again at a good performance level. I would be happy if I am again competing for some strong results here. This year will be a very difficult edition, and not quite suited to my style but stage by stage we will see what we can do.”

Despite coming into the race as defending champion, the course doesn’t suit Peter for another shot at the overall classification due to a punishing mountain finish on stage 3 to Santa Barbara County. The 167.5km day ends in the 12km climb of Gibraltar Road, averaging 8%, and this will be a day for the climbers to stamp their authority on the race.

Sport Director for the race, Patxi Vila gave his thoughts on the Tinkoff line-up. “We have a fast team here in what is going to be quite a tough race. We come here with Peter as leader in search of stage results, and then for the GC we will see how Gogl is – he can test himself and then see how he stands against the others.

“We then have a strong team around Peter to target stages with Blythe, Gatto, Trusov & Kolar back racing. The race will also be used by many of the guys to touch base with race rhythm again and to restart their focus for the second half of the season. Peter has had a good break after the classics with some mountain bike racing and some time at home so he’s relaxed and ready for the next stage of the season. I don’t expect him to come here on top form like last year but it will be a good race to build on for his coming goals.”

There will several other opportunities for Peter Sagan to show his turn of speed, including the opening stage which also presents the chance to steal the first leader’s jersey of the week. There’s also a 20.3km individual time trial on the day six to make sure there’s something for everyone at this race. The week then comes to a close with a town centre sprint showdown in Sacremento.