The first stage of the
"I really had no idea who had won," the British cyclist told NBC Sports Network after the race. "I had to wait a little bit until they confirmed. I really had no idea."
After almost five hours of racing on Sunday, Cavendish took the yellow jersey, edging out
Early in the race, a breakaway formed with Matt Cooke, Charles Planet, Thomas Leezer, Isaac Bolivar, Will Routley and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who, at 19, is the younger rider on the tour. The break stayed away for much of the race and at once point held a lead as large as five minutes.
But near the end of the course the rest of the field closed in, allowing sprinters like Cavendish, Sagan and Kiel Reijnen to make their way to the front for a dramatic finish.
Gusty conditions complicated the 120-mile stage — the longest of this year's tour — with winds reaching more than 20 miles per hour.
Routley became the first owner of the King of the Mountain jersey, edging out Cooke during the climb up Highway 49 halfway through the race.
American Carmen Small won the 125-mile women's circuit race, winning a purse of $10,000.
The ninth Tour of California will continue Monday in Folsom with a 12.5-mile individual time trial on a flat course.