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World champion Peter Sagan opens Tour of California with win

Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton makes the climb of Laurel Street during stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The breakaway works together at the front of the race during stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton climbs through the countryside during stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
A fan runs with an American Flag as he chases the peloton during stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton passes Otay Lake during stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton descend on the way to the finish of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton pass through Balboa Park on the way to the finish of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
The peloton pass through Balboa Park on the way to the finish of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
A fan holds up a picture of Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff at the finish line of stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Peter Sagan (R) of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff sprints to the line for the win ahead of Wouter Wippert (L) of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team in second place in stage one of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff smiles after beating Wouter Wippert of the Netherlands riding for Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (L) during Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
Jacob Rathe of the United States riding for Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis, Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands riding for Team Lotto NL - Jumbo, Peter Sagan of Slovakia riding for Tinkoff, and Oscar Clark fo the United States riding for Holowesko Citadel stand on the podium with their respective jerseys following Stage 1 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 15, 2016 in San Diego, California.
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Peter Sagan wasn't quite ready to strip off the yellow jersey at the Tour of California.

The surprising overall winner a year ago, Sagan unleashed a powerful sprint at the last possible moment on Sunday, overcoming Dutch riders Wouter Wippert and Dylan Groenewegen to win the 109-mile first stage that began and ended along the San Diego waterfront.

Sagan was quiet all day in the peloton, then freelanced his way through the field as the pace picked up on the wide boulevards to the finish. He swung wide of Wippert and Groenewegen within sight of the finish line, thrusting his bike across in first by less than a tire length.

It was the 14th stage win in California for the Slovakian superstar, and continues one of the most impressive stretches in recent cycling history that began on the opposite coast.

Sagan won the world championship last September in Richmond, Virginia.

The opening stage include only one serious climb, midway through the route, so there was plenty of time for the field to come together. An early seven-rider breakaway never stood much chance, and when it was reduced to three, they were swept up altogether with about 2 miles left to go.

The stage figured to be a sprint finish all along, but missing from the front were several of the sport's biggest names — Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff and John Degenkolb.

Groenewegen, riding for Lotto-Jumbo, took advantage of his team's strong lead-out to make the first move at the finish. Wippert flashed by him in his Cannondale colors and looked for a moment like he would give his U.S.-based team a stunning victory in the biggest race on American soil.

The two dark-horses then watched the world's top-ranked rider storm right past them.

The second stage on Monday, a 92-mile ride from Pasadena to Santa Clarita, could give Sagan an opportunity to hang onto the leader's jersey. There are four rated climbs that could shake up the field, but there's also enough time after the final one to produce another bunched finish.