By Laura Weislo , Cyclingnews.com
Mark Cavendish claimed the opening stage of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California yesterday (16 May) after being delivered to the line in an armchair ride from HTC-Columbia team-mate Mark Renshaw.
Cavendish bested Saxo Bank's Juan Jose Haedo and BMC's Norwegian Alexander Kristoff in downtown Sacramento after 167.8km of racing. Garmin-Transition's Robbie Hunter eased up before the line and fell to fourth place, while Fly V Australia's Jonathan Cantwell claimed fifth.
Cavendish, as always, gave full credit to his team for delivering him to the win, and the tribute was fitting for this stage as Mark Renshaw not only dropped him at the perfect point, but the rest of the team kept him near the front in what was a hectic final 10km.
"We took control of the race all day," Cavendish said. "There were a couple of teams that helped and a couple of inexperienced teams that took over, but we're experienced and we knew when we had to take control.
"We got swamped a couple of times [toward the finish], but all I had to do was follow Renshaw's wheel and cross the line first. The most satisfying thing about winning is knowing I can deliver to my team-mates who did the hard work."
The victory was only the third season win for the normally prolific British rider. His last came in the Tour of Romandy where he saluted with a rude gesture and was pulled from the race by his team.
"I was going to celebrate three wins this year [with a special salute], but I couldn't do it, so I just did a normal celebration," he said. "To be honest I don't think about my celebrations too often. I switch off my emotions during the race and it all comes out as I cross the line. It might look staged, but it's always pretty impromptu."