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May 18, 2014 – Britain’s Bradley Wiggins captured the Tour of California title Sunday and said he looks forward to backing countryman and teammate Chris Froome’s bid to repeat as Tour de France champion. Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, took the overall crown in the eight-stage US event after compatriot Mark Cavendish, who won the opening stage, also took the final stage over rolling hills.
Wiggins (Team Sky) easily held onto the yellow jersey in the closing 76.1-mile (122.4km) stage that began and ended in Thousand Oaks, a Los Angeles suburb. Moments after Cavendish won the sprint across the finish line to take the stage in 2 hrs 53 mins 50 secs, Wiggins captured the overall crown in 28:22.05.
“It’s right up there in terms of satisfaction more than anything,” said Wiggins. “I set my store to win the Tour of California. At 34 it’s nice to still be winning at this age.”
Then Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France left no doubt that he would support Team Sky’s Froome in July when he seeks back-to-back triumphs in France. “Chris wants to win a second tour and I think everyone is behind that, including myself,” Wiggins said. If I am fortunate enough to be in the Tour, it will be in support of Chris and that’s that.”
Wiggins became the first British rider to win the Tour de France and then followed with a 2012 time-trial gold medal at his home Olympics in London. On Sunday, Wiggins denied Australian overall runner-up Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) in a final bid to close the 30-second gap between them after Saturday’s seventh stage.
“I had an incredible team around me,” Wiggins said. “The team took the whole strain this week. They have done a fantastic job. It was a fantastic way to finish.”
American Lawson Craddock finished third, remaining 1:48 adrift after the final stage. For Cavendish, a 28-year-old Omega rider, the stage victory was something of a surprise. “I’m in the form of my life,” he said. “To win the sprint I know my condition is good. I really wasn’t expecting it.”
“Matteo Trentin put me in perfect position for the last kilometer,” Cavendish said. “Niki Terpstra also did a great job. I just wanted to follow Peter. Then Giant-Shimano came, so I got in there, squeezed in, and that’s about when Peter launched. I knew with 200 meters to go, on that finish, I would be able to to have the speed after a week’s racing. So I just went and I was a bit fortunate. I celebrated early and John nearly beat me. But overall I’m super happy with the group and my condition. I’m in good shape and the guys rode really incredible today. They really had some guts and I’m proud to again finish the job of a great team effort.”
Germany’s John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) was second in the stage with Slovakian Peter Sagan (Cannondale) third, both in the same time as Cavendish.
Stage 8 Results: 122 km in Thousand Oaks
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR/Omega) 2hrs, 53mins, 50secs
2. John Degenkolb (GER) same time
3. Peter Sagan (SVK) s.t.
4. Matthew Goss (AUS) s.t.
5. Danny Van Poppel (NED) s.t.
20. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) s.t.
Final Overall Standings:
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/Sky) 28:22:05
2. Rohan Dennis (AUS) at 30sec
3. Lawson Craddock (USA) at 1:48
4. Tiago Machado (POR) at 2:02
5. Adam Yates (GBR) at 2:14.