APTOS (AP) — Peter Sagan of Slovakia won his second straight stage with a powerful and unchallenged sprint and retained the overall lead Monday in stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California.
The Liquigas-Cannondale rider was timed in the 117.1-mile road race from San Francisco in 5 hours and 2 minutes. He now leads the eight-day event by 8 seconds over Heinrich Haussler of Australia, a former Tour de France stage winner who was second for the second straight day, a half-dozen bike lengths behind..
“Today was very hard, the climbs went very fast,” said Sagan, the former mountain junior world titlist who now also has five career wins in the seven-year-old race.
Sagan also crashed with about 4 1-2 miles left in the opening stage, lost more than 20 seconds to the field but returned to the front with teammates’ help.
Leigh Howard of the Orica-GreenEDGE team was third in the stage that took the starting field of 128 along the California coastline.
Sagan was among 10 cyclists who crashed 73 miles into stage 2. All of the fallen riders returned to the field.
Defending champion Chris Horner of Bend, Ore., finished safely in the main field for the second straight day.
“I knew the last corner was close to the finish so I decided to take the turn from the first position,” said Sagan. “And I won the stage. I’m now thinking about winning another, and maybe when we start the harder climbs we will work for (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek teammate) Vincenzo Nibali.”
The eight-day event continues Tuesday with 115.3-mile stage 3 road race from San Jose to Livermore. The route will include the race’s first substantial climb, an ascent of Mt. Diablo about halfway through the stage.