Sacramento - German Marcel Kittel out-sprinted Peter Sagan
to claim his first win at the Tour of California in the opening stage of the
seven-day race in Sacramento on Sunday.
Kittel got some help from his teammates as he launched off
the wheel of Quick-Step Floors partner Fabio Sabatini with about 800 metres
remaining to beat reigning two-time world champ Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe.
"I am really happy I could finally win a race here in
California," Kittel said. I always try to do my best.
"I rely on really strong and intelligent teammates. It
is a mix of a lot of things, but in the end when it works it is a great
"My team did an incredible job. We had a good plan and
did a good job of bringing me to the finish."
Italy's Elia Viviani finished third while Floris Gerts of
the Netherlands placed fourth.
By winning the 167 kilometre first stage, Kittel nailed down
the 80th win of his pro career.
The sprinting specialist, who turned 29 on Thursday, will
enjoy wearing the yellow leader's jersey for at least one day as the race moves
into the mountain stage with a 143km ride from Modesto to San Jose on Monday.
The race opened in Sacramento and finishes May 20 at Pasadena.
Stage two offers six category climbs, the toughest up Mount
Stage five features a steep and long ascent to Mount Baldy
among three category climbs.
Sprinters will have a penultimate sixth-stage 24km time
trial Friday at Big Bear Lake to regain any lost ground ahead of the final
125km stage down to the finish.
Meanwhile, Olympic road race gold medallist Anna van der
Breggen won the women's Tour of California title Sunday to earn her fourth win
of the season.
Her victory after four stages of racing follows the gold she
won in the Rio Games and wins in three other major one-day races this season.
Leading results and standings from the 167 kilometre first stage of the Tour of California on Sunday:
Marcel Kittel (GER/Quick-Step Floors) 3hrs 45min 35secs, 2. Peter Sagan
(SVK/Bora-Hansgrohe), 3. Elia Viviani (ITA/Team Sky), 4. Floris Gerts
(NED/BMC Racing Team), 5. John Degenkolb (GER/Trek-Segafredo), 6.
Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX/BMC Racing Team), 7. Reinardt Janse Van
Rensburg (RSA/Dimension Data), 8. Martin Velits (SVK/Quick-Step Floors),
9. Marko Kump (SLO/UAE Team Emirates), 10. Wouter Wippert
Kittel (GER/Quick-Step Floors) 3hrs 45min 35secs, 2. Peter Sagan
(SVK/Bora-Hansgrohe) at 4sec, 3. Elia Viviani (ITA/Team Sky) 6, 4.
Floris Gerts (NED/BMC Racing Team) 9, 5. John Degenkolb
(GER/Trek-Segafredo) 10, 6. Jean-Pierre Drucker (LUX/BMC Racing Team)
10, 7. Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA/Dimension Data) 10, 8. Martin
Velits (SVK/Quick-Step Floors) 10, 9. Marko Kump (SLO/UAE Team Emirates)
10, 10. Wouter Wippert (NED/Cannondale-Drapac) 10