By Nigel Wynn
Rising Slovak star Peter Sagan added to his increasingly bulging palmares with a win in the opening stage of the 2012 Tour of California on Sunday.
The Liquigas-Cannondale rider out-paced Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) and American Fred Rodriguez (Team Exergy) in the dash to the line in Santa Rosa.
Sagan's win was all the more remarkable as it came after he had punctured in the final 10 kilometres, working hard to regain contact with the lead bunch and compose himself to take the victory.
Britain's sole representative in the race, Steve Cummings, finished in 27th spot in the same time as Sagan.
Sagan wears the leader's jersey going into the race's second stage on Monday, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz County. The 188.5 kilometre route features two categorised climbs in the second half of the day - Empire Grade and Bear Creek Road. A long descent from Summit Road to the line will favour a daring attack.
The 2012 Tour of California concludes on Sunday, May 20, in Los Angeles.
Last year's race was won by Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan), with then team-mate Levi Leipheimer in second place. With Leipheimer now riding for Omega Pharma-QuickStep the top honours should be hotly contested.
Tour of California 2012, stage one: Santa Rosa to Santa Rosa, 186.5km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale in 4-42-35
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Exergy
4. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
6. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing
7. Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech
8. Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickStep
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager-Livestrong
10. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Rabobank all same time
27. Steve Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing same time
Overall classification after stage one
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale in 4-42-25
2. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin-Barracuda at 4 secs
3. Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare at 4 secs
4. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Exergy at 6 secs
5. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell at 6 secs
6. Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager-Livestrong at 9 secs
7. Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge at 10 secs
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 10 secs
9. George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing at 10 secs
10. Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech at 10 secs
'It's a key indicator the sport is still progressing': Deignan happy with 'dynamic' Tour de France Femmes route
The Paris-Roubaix Femmes winner said the race will likely be won by a 'complete rider'
By Tim Bonville-Ginn •
Build the athlete first: How a broad skill base can improve your riding
Far from being one-trick pedalling machines, the world’s best cyclists are consummate all-round athletes. You too should build a broad base of skills
By Chris Sidwells •