Bradley Wiggins, winner of the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in 2012, will be trying to keep the overall leader’s yellow jersey when the riders finish Stage 5 of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California in Santa Barbara on Thursday afternoon.
The 108-mile stage, which starts at 11:45 a.m. on the Pismo Beach pier, is likely to come down to a sprint in the final stretch on Cabrillo Boulevard. Such fast-cranking athletes as Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan will try to get the edge. This might be the best chance for former Santa Barbara resident Ken Hanson of United Health Care to step onto the podium. He was a close second in last year’s Stage 4 finish here.
Quick Step Cycling Team’s Cavendish, who holds the third most Tour de France stage wins, won the opening stage of this year’s Amgen Tour in Sacramento on Sunday by the width of a tire rim over Team Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb.
Wiggins took over the overall lead when he put the hammer down in Monday’s second stage, a time trial in Folsom. The British champion holds a 28-second lead over Rohan Dennis, an Australian who won the third stage that finished on top of Mount Diablo.
In Wednesday’s Stage 4, a 102-mile jaunt from Monterey to Cambria, the surprise winner was Canadian Will Routley of Optum Pro Cycling. While taking a big lead in the King of the Mountain (KOM) category, Routley also finished at the head of a breakaway pack that managed to escape the rest of the field, leaving the sprinters too far behind as they reached Cambria.
None of the top finishers Wednesday was a threat to Wiggins, who maintained his overall lead with the help of his Team Sky escorts.
Tiago Machado of Portugal is third overall, 1:08 behind the leader, and 22-year-old Texan Lawson Craddock of Team Giant-Shimano held fourth, 1:26 behind, and retained the Best Young Rider jersey.
After leaving Pismo Beach on Thursday, the cyclists will go through Arroyo Grande and enter Santa Barbara County. They are expected to hit the intersection of Foxen Canyon Road and Highway 154 at approximately 12:45 p.m. and head over San Marcos Pass. In the city, they will follow Modoc Road, Las Positas Road, Cliff Drive and Shoreline Drive, finishing at about 3:45 pm on Cabrillo Boulevard between Garden Street and Calle Caesar Chavez.
There will be a fee lifestyle festival near the finish line beginning at 11 am.