Sagan, Cavendish, Kittel, Ewan confirmed for Amgen Tour of California sprints

by Neal Rogers


With 17 teams announced to participate in next month’s edition of the Amgen Tour of California, one thing is clear — race fans will see a handful of the sport’s top sprinters battle it out several times over a week of competition in the Golden State.

Among those confirmed to start are world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).

Sagan, who has raced in California every year of his pro career and holds the record for California stage wins with 16, will be returning to the race he won in 2015 after a break following his spring classics campaign.

Cavendish, who has won 10 stages in California since 2009, will be using the race to return to form after a maddening early season that has seen him crash out of three consecutive races.

Kittel returns to California after an early season that has seen him take a pair of wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, but also fail to make the front of the race for the final sprint at Milan-San Remo and Scheldeprijs.

Ewan will make his first trip to the Amgen Tour riding a high after taking the bunch sprint at Milan-San Remo to take second behind solo winner Vincenzo Nibali.

Mark Cavendish won ahead of Marcel Kittel and Peter Sagan on Stage 1 of the 2016 Tour de France. All three riders, plus Caleb Ewan, will be racing the 2018 Amgen Tour of California.

General classification contenders confirmed by race organization AEG include Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale), Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), and Sacramento-area resident Nielson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo), the 2016 Amgen Tour of California Best Young Rider.

In all, 13 WorldTour teams and four Pro Continental teams will make up the peloton as the race makes its way from Long Beach to Sacramento for the 13th edition of the race, which has been sponsored by biotechnology pioneer Amgen since its inception.

WorldTour teams attending include AG2R La Mondiale, BMC Racing, Bora-Hansgrohe, Mitchelton-Scott, Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data, EF Education First-Drapac, Katusha-Alpecin, LottoNL-Jumbo, Team Sky, Team Sunweb, Trek-Segafredo, and UAE Team Emirates.

Three American teams, all in their first year as UCI Pro Continental squads, received invitations— Hagens Berman Axeon, Holowesko-Citadel, and Rally Cycling.

American team UnitedHealthcare, which has long been registered as Pro Continental, was also invited.

Evan Huffman and Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) finished 1-2 on Stage 4 of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California 2017. Photo Brian Hodes/Cor Vos.

“This is a critical race for our team and our partners. With the UCI WorldTour race designation, it was important that we upgrade to Pro Continental in order to remain eligible for America’s biggest race,” said Charles Aaron, Rally Cycling managing director, whose team won two stages at the 2017 edition.

Like the men’s race, the three-day women’s stage race is also part of the UCI WorldTour calendar. In total 15 women’s teams were invited.

UnitedHealthcare’s Katie Hall, who claimed Stage 2 last year in South Lake Tahoe, is expected to return, as is three-time national champion and 2016 race winner Megan Guarnier, with the USA Cycling National Team.

Canyon-SRAM is likely to bring Kasia Niewiadoma, solo winner of Trofeo Alfredo Binda, as well as California native Alexis Ryan, winner of Drentse Acht van Westerveld and second-place finisher at the Ronde van Drenthe.

American phenom Chloé Dygert-Owen is likely to race with Twenty20-Sho-Air along with San Diego native Jennifer Valente; together they made up half of the silver-medal team pursuit squad at the 2016 Olympics.

Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) won Stage 3 of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California, from Elk Grove to Sacramento. Photo Brian Hodes/Cor Vos.

California native Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb), who blazed to a Stage 3 victory last year, also plans to return. “The team and I had some great results at the Amgen Tour of California last year and we will be back this year looking to build on that,” Rivera said in an event press release. “It’s a fun race in beautiful locations, plus holds a lot of personal meaning for me being in my home state and country.”

Teams confirmed for the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race empowered with SRAM: Astana Women’s Team, BePink, Canyon-SRAM, Hagens Berman-Supermint, Mexican National Team, Rally Cycling, Swapit-Agolico, Team Illuminate, Team Sunweb, TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank, Trek–Drops, Twenty20 -Sho-Air, UnitedHealthcare, USA Cycling National Team, and Wiggle High5.

Presented by Visit California, a visual overview of the men’s and women’s courses is viewable here.

To celebrate the star-studded 2018 rosters, the Amgen Tour of California is launching its biggest sweepstakes of the year. The King of California VIP Experience presented by Visit California invites fans to enter to win a trip for two to meet and join the race entourage of three-time World Champion Peter Sagan. The prize includes airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, and access embedded with the race in a BORA-hansgrohe team car at the Stage 4 time trial on May 16. Entries are open through April 16.

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