Julian Alaphilippe wins the Tour of California

Julian Alaphilippe sealed his first overall stage victory as the Frenchman held off Rohan Dennis on the eighth and final stage, won by Mark Cavendish. Alaphilippe finished safely in the front group to ensure it wasn’t a repeat of last year’s race which he lost by just three seconds to Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

Cavendish hit out in the finale of Sacramento course to record his tenth career victory at the Tour of California with Sagan notching yet another second place and stage 7 winner Alexander Kristoff third.

The 2016 race begins with an opening stage that starts and finishes in downtown San Diego on the city’s famous waterfront. The course includes one challenging climb, but the fast finish makes it a strong possibility for a sprint.

The second stage from South Pasadena to Santa Clarita will pass through the high mountains of the Angeles National Forest. Previous stage finishes in Santa Clarita have favoured the sprinters, but the course’s difficult middle section could make this a year for a breakaway or reduced peloton.

The third stage from Thousand Oaks to Gibraltar Road is 2016’s queen stage and should truly set the pecking order for the general classification fight. The fourth stage travels from Morro Bay to Monterey, where it finishes on the legendary Laguna Seca race track.

The race then begins its stage 5 ascent from Lodi to Lake Tahoe, the race’s second trip there since the area’s plans for the grand depart were cancelled by snow in 2011.

Folsom hosts the stage 6 time trial on the same course where Wiggins won in 2014 ahead of Rohan Dennis and Taylor Phinney. A stage 7 circuit that starts and finishes in Santa Rosa has a few climbs that could favour opportunists, but the final day in Sacramento will be all about the high-end speed as the race finishes for the first time in the state capitol.

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