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Tour of California rolls through SLO County — and there was drama at finish in Morro Bay

Watch Tour of California riders cruise down Hwy. 1 to finish in Morro Bay

The Amgen Tour of California came through San Luis Obispo County for Stage 4 of the professional cycling race. Fabio Jakobsen won a sprint at the Morro Bay finish, while Tejay van Garderen kept the yellow jersey.
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The Amgen Tour of California came through San Luis Obispo County for Stage 4 of the professional cycling race. Fabio Jakobsen won a sprint at the Morro Bay finish, while Tejay van Garderen kept the yellow jersey.

San Luis Obispo County cycling fans were treated to a dramatic finish to Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday afternoon.

After a scenic ride from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County south on Highway 1 through Big Sur, things came to a head just as riders made the approach into Morro Bay for the stage’s final 8 kilometers.

The chain snapped on overall leader Tejay van Garderen’s bike, forcing him to replace it with teammate Lachlan Morton’s ride. Van Garderen then carried too much speed into the hard right turn at the off-ramp into Morro Bay as he scrambled to get back to the pelaton, sending him off course briefly.

His luck took a turn for the third time in a matter of minutes when a pileup of riders with 3 kilometers to go ended his chances of chasing down the main group. The American lead rider for team EF Education First finished 55 seconds behind stage winner Fabio Jakobsen of Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

Jakobsen outsprinted Jasper Philipsen and three-time world champion and 2015 Tour of California winner Peter Sagan at the downtown Morro Bay finish.

Despite the unlucky finish, officials ruled that van Garderen would maintain the yellow jersey because the mass pileup happened just outside the 3 kilometer mark, and riders involved received “field time.” Sagan took over the green jersey for best sprinter, American Alex Hoehn holds onto the polka dots for king of the mountain and fellow American Michael Hernandez is the Most Courageous rider with the blue jersey.

Local fans get another chance to catch the tour before it heads out of the county. The fifth stage will begin Thursday in Pismo Beach, continuing down Highway 1 and crossing to Highway 154 before ending in Ventura after another 138 miles. The stage is expected to start at 10 a.m.

The day was a blessing for California fans who rarely get to see in person the world-class riders, many of whom will be competing in the Tour de France this summer.

Like the riders, Greg Schoonard of Coarse Gold started his day at Laguna Seca. He then took Highway 101 to beat them to Morro Bay.

He’s been doing this for every stage of the tour, following the riders’ start and finish, with the ultimate goal this year of climbing Mt. Baldy, like the riders will for stage 7.

“One of the main reasons I’m doing it actually, is to climb Mt. Baldy,” Schoonard said.

“I spend a lot of money,” said Schoonard, who has followed other races such as the Vuelta a España in Spain, as well as previous Tour of California’s. “I go to the local restaurants and stay at Airbnb’s, and ride around the towns getting to know them. It’s fun.”

Tomorrow morning Schoonard will be at the Pismo Beach start before heading down to Ventura for the finish.

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