Tour of California: Sir Bradley Wiggins takes title as Mark Cavendish wins stage eight
Last Updated: 18/05/14 9:17pm
Sir Bradley Wiggins was all smiles on the podium after sealing his Tour of California win
Team Sky's Sir Bradley Wiggins held on to win the 2014 Tour of California on a memorable day which also saw Mark Cavendish sprint to victory in Thousand Oaks.
Wiggins never looked troubled on the concluding day of action and could afford to sit back as his British compatriot surged to a second stage win.
Wiggins rolled home in a sizeable front group after Cavendish had edged out John Degenkolb in a flat-out finish. The Manxman had been temporarily distanced on the third ascent of the infamous Rock Store climb, but his Omega Pharma - Quick-Step team-mates worked hard to bring him back into the fold and Cavendish rewarded the efforts by bolting to his ninth success of the season.
The British champion timed his sprint to perfection and wrapped up a hard-fought victory by less than a rim-width at the line.
Wiggins meanwhile, took his first race win of the season with a 30-second margin over Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp), and after the stage he was quick to praise his team-mates who had helped make it happen.
He said: "I've said it every day but without those guys I wouldn't be in this position. You can't do it on your own and as strong as my performance was individually in the time trial, my team have taken the strain all week.
"Those young Americans in my team, Joe, Ian and Danny have done a fantastic job - even today they didn't give up the chase and came back after they'd been distanced on the climbs. This is a fantastic way to finish."
The early start to stage eight meant the temperatures weren't quite as high as they had been on previous days, and after a frantic opening period, seven riders managed to sneak clear of the bunch.
Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Jack Bobridge (Belkin) were the strongest duo from that group and dropped their companions on the second ascent of the day. With Cannondale and Team Sky setting a fiendish pace on the front of the bunch though, they were also hauled back on the next ascent and Wiggins was sitting pretty on the front of the peloton as he crested the summit for the final time.
Despite a flurry of further attacks, Team Sky rode hard to keep everything in check, and the race came back together with five kilometres remaining before Cavendish ended the race as he'd begun it with another rampant win.
Immediately after the podium presentation Wiggins revealed the victory would stand proud on his long list of successes, and he was delighted to have added another high-profile title to his glittering palmares.
He added: "This win is right up there in terms of satisfaction - to come here and have the reception we've had from the American public - it's been unreal. It's always an honour to wear a yellow jersey and I set my stall out to come and win the Tour of California, and I wanted to add my name to the guys who came before me. I've done that now and at 34 years old, it's still nice to be winning on this stage."