Stage 8, taking place in Thousand Oaks, featured three loops of the infamous Rock Store climb and finished with a few laps around the downtown Westlake area of the city.
Early on, a break led by the massively popular Jens Voigt and Niki Terpstra opened almost a four-minute lead on the peloton, but slowly was reeled in. Mark Cavendish, who seemed to be struggling on the climbs early on, behind even the peloton, was able to close the gap on the descent. With an impressive effort in the closing kilometers of the race, Cavendish bridged the peloton, which subsequently bridged a minor breakaway, and the best sprinter in the world was able to cross the finish line first once again.
Amusingly, he said in a post-race interview he wasn’t even planning on starting. Even after changing his mind, Cavendish claimed he was going to take it easy and ate french toast for breakfast. New pre-ride morning fuel, anyone?
This stage was really fun to attend, and had an awesome atmosphere at the top. After the 2nd climb I walked all the way down to my car, caught some pictures of the peloton at the foot of the hill, and drove as quickly as a could to downtown Thousand Oaks. I then got lost, turned around, and made it with seconds to spare as the first of the final few laps on the city circuit began.