San Diego, California – Ruben Guerreiro scored a top 10 finish Sunday for the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team in the opening stage of the Amgen Tour of California that started and finished in San Diego.
The 21-year-old from Portugal was seventh as world road champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) won the sprint finish at the end of the 175-kilometer race. Wouter Wippert (Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) was runner-up and Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) finished third.
Guerreiro, the winner of G.P. Palio del Recioto in Italy in March, said he was not necessarily planning to be contesting the sprint.
"Normally Logan (Owen) is a faster finisher," Guerreiro said. "But I was feeling really great during the stage and just following the top WorldTour sprinters. In the last kilometer, there were 20 guys in front of me but I kept going and going and followed a good wheel that took me to the front."
Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx said a top 10 finish is a good start in one of the team's most important races.
"On paper, the sprint was probably better for Logan," Merckx said. "But as you can see from the race situation, it is good to have more than one sprinter in the team. One guy can be in good position and other guys come around him and get swarmed. I think that's what happened. But seventh is a good result for us."
In addition to Guerreiro's top 10 placing – his third on the season – teammate Neilson Powless finished 13th and in the same time as the stage winner. Powless is a California native who currently leads the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.
Merckx said the team enjoyed a smooth and uneventful start to the eight-day race that ends next Sunday in Sacramento. But the former Olympic medal winner said Monday's 148.5-km race is much different.
"It is hillier, so it is going to be harder at the start," he said. "So there is going to be more fighting before the break goes. Today, the break went right away. Tomorrow, I predict it will be harder for the break to go. It might take a little longer because Katusha might not pull any more because they pulled all day. It will be interesting to see who takes charge."
(Photo of Ruben Guerreiro by Davey Wilson.)