John Degenkolb (Argos Shimano) had to admit defeat on the first stage of the Tour of California. After 198 kilometers that took the field around Sacramento, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had the tire ahead on the line. The Brit thus also took over the yellow jersey from the overall leader.
The race not only offered a lot of excitement in the finale. Already early in the race, six drivers had left the field, which the teams Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Sky initially let their lead. With Sacramento in sight, however, they increased the number of strokes and tried to take the field on the edge with almost 50 kilometers to go.
The attempt succeeded. A total of 22 riders tackled the last quarter of the opening stage. Among those were Cavendish, his teammate Tom Boonen, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and Greg van Avermaet (BMC) and Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge). However, they were unable to keep the field at bay.
Nothing stood in the way of a mass sprint. On the home straight Team Cannondale then tried to deliver their captain Peter Sagan. However, he had to be satisfied with fourth place behind the Dutchman Moreno Hofland. In front of the two, Cavendish and Degenkolb fought side by side for victory. For a long time it looked like the Frankfurter would defeat the British. However, he pushed his front wheel past the sword piston on the line.