UAE Team Emirates’ 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar (SLO) is the 2019 Amgen Tour of California champion after a fast and furious sprint finish at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl concluded a week of racing.
Two young first-timers to this race vied for the overall championship in an epic battle yesterday when Pogacar took over the race lead after the Queen Stage summit finish at Mt. Baldy, coming into the final stage +:16” ahead of EF Education First Pro Cycling’s 21-year-old Sergio Higuita (COL). With their time gap unchanged today, Higuita finished in second place overall.
Beginning the day in sixth place overall (+:22), Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Kasper Asgreen (DEN) fought to make up time with bonus points today. He joined a chase group that brought the peloton back together before it reached Pasadena, then leapt out to a solo lead on the first of three passes across the finish line to claim maximum Sprint points in the finishing circuits. UAE Team Emirates worked hard to reel him back in defense of Pogacar, who will also go home with the TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey in addition to his yellow jersey.
“This race was my main goal this year. I knew that I was prepared. I surprised myself a bit that I took the overall win. But I’m really happy and looking forward to next season,” said Pogacar.
Ultimately the peloton reunited with the WorldTour teams angling for placement in the bunch sprint finish, and Asgreen’s dash propelled him up the leader board from sixth to a third place overall podium spot (+:17), just one second behind Higuita, as well as locked his win in the Sprint competition.
Known as a race that brings together the world’s best riders while launching the careers of cycling’s next generation, past Amgen Tour of California winners have included French rider Julian Alaphilippe, who set a new race record for the youngest champion at 23 when he won in 2016, which was then overtaken in 2018 by Columbia’s Egan Bernal who won at age 21.
“What a fantastic week. This is our 14th edition, and I have to say this is our best edition yet. We had the strongest field for both the men and the woman….There have been spectacular performances by all of the riders,” said Kristin Klein, president of the Amgen Tour of California and executive vice president of AEG Sports. “We continue to have a platform that is a launching pad for all of the young talent. Looking back at our race, the likes of Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish, then the past few years with (Julian) Alaphilippe and (Egan) Bernal, (Fernando) Gaviria, George Bennett… then this year, look at all the young talent. It’s phenomenal to see it, and we’re proud that we continue to be a launching pad for all of the riders. Congratulations once again to everybody,”
Stage 7 presented by Amgen wound riders 78.3 miles from veteran Host City of Santa Clarita to Pasadena. Two former race champions who won the title in Pasadena were in the race this year: Slovak three-time World Champion Peter Sagan (2015), who placed second for today’s stage in a furious sprint, and New Zealand’s George Bennett (2017), who ended the race in fourth place overall.
In the final meters of the race, Sagan and USA Cycling National Teams’ Travis McCabe (Prescott, Ariz.) sprinted shoulder to shoulder until Astana attacked and Team Sunweb’s Cees Bol (NED) leapt out and narrowly outpaced Sagan for the stage win.
EF Education First Pro Cycling’s Tejay van Garderen (Tacoma, Wash.), who wore the Amgen Race Leader Jersey until yesterday’s result, finished in ninth place this year (+1:22”), and still holds the race record for the largest winning margin of all time with his 2013 overall win +1.47” ahead of Michael Rogers.
OVERALL RACE RESULTS:
- Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE) 32h55’12”
- Sergio Higuita (COL), EF Education First Pro Cycling (USA) +0:16”
- Kasper Asgreen (DEN), Deceuninck – Quick-Step (BEL) +0:17”
- George Bennett (NZL), Team Jumbo-Visma (TJV) +0:29”
- Richie Porte (AUS), Trek-Segafredo (USA) +0:41”
JERSEY WINNERS AT RACE CONCLUSION:
- Amgen Race Leader Jersey – Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
- Visit California Sprint Jersey – Kasper Asgreen (DEN), Deceuninck – Quick-Step (BEL)
- Lexus King of the Mountain (KOM) Jersey – Davide Ballerini (ITA), Astana Pro Team (KAZ)
- Breakaway from Cancer ® Most Courageous Rider Jersey – Alex Hoehn (USA), USA Cycling National Team (USA)
- TAG Heuer Best Young Rider Jersey – Tadej Pogacar (SLO), UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
OVERALL TEAM WINNER:
- EF Education First Pro Cycling (USA)
STAGE 7 PODIUM:
- Cees Bol (NED), Team Sunweb (GER) 2h53’16”
- Peter Sagan (SVK), BORA-hansgrohe (GER) +00”
- Jasper Philipsen (BEL), UAE Team Emirates (UAE) +00”