Darren Lill (Fly V australia) called up with other winners of the Nevada City classic.

Sacramento, USA - Fly V Australia's Jonathan Cantwell finished 5th behind Mark Cavendish (Columbia HTC) in Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California.

On paper today's 167km stage from Nevada City to Sacramento looked like the best opportunity for the pure sprinters to make an impact. The stage started at a frantic pace as those wanting to escape the sprinters teams tried their luck on the largely downhill course to remain in front of the sprinters at the finish line in Sacramento.

It didn't take long for a break of 4 to establish a lead that went out to 5 minutes at one point. Rabobank, Bissell, BMC and United Health Care were represented in the break. Behind the break it didn't take long for the Columbia HTC team of Mark Cavendish to assume responsibility for keeping the four leaders in check.

With 80 kilometers left to race and the gap to the four leaders hovering at around 3 minutes, the chase proper began in earnest. The four escapees were eventually caught just inside the final 30 kilometers setting the stage for the sprinters to leave their mark on the race.

In what would turn out to be a chaotic final marred by crashes the fastest sprinter in the world would win on the day. Jonathan Cantwell said, "I was well positioned in the final lap but probably started my sprint from too far back, I was coming up on Hunter (Garmin) and Kristof (BMC) but couldn't quite get over them ahead of the line. Today was a great confidence booster and I'll certainly be trying again through out the week for a stage win."


Jay Thompson climbs.

Photo credits - Michael Crook