• Fernando Gaviria wins the opening stage of the 2018 Tour of California (Getty)Source: Getty
Australian Caleb Ewan appeared to come from nowhere to pull off a close second, Peter Sagan doing the same for third.
Cycling Central

Quick-Step Floors
14 May 2018 - 8:56 AM  UPDATED 14 May 2018 - 11:56 AM

With a stellar cast on the startlist, this year's Tour of California has been sold as a sprinter showdown with a little bit of GC thrown in.

And the big men didn't disappoint, producing a high octane sprint finish on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Fernando Gaviria's Quickstep-Floors sprint train dropped him off perfectly with around 200 metres to go, the Colombian fired up the after burners and daylight to his rivals looked likely.

But Ewan was expertly guided by Mitchelton-Scott teammate Luka Mezgec to the Colombian's wheel, Sagan jumping on his, the duo desparately dragging to a closer, but ultimately futile finish.

"Winning my first ever race in the United States is really great," Gaviria said. "The cherry on the top being the yellow jersey.

“Iljo did a tremendous job by bringing us into position, then Alvaro picked up the speed and Max provided a perfect lead-out. It was a bit chaotic out there, but that’s life in the sprints.

"I was really motivated to get a victory after being sidelined through injury, so I trained and worked hard, and today it all paid off."

Marcel Kittel (Katusha) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE) rounded out the top five. Despite Australian Mark Renshaw's work in the final kilometre, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) came home 10th.

Earlier, Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko-Citadel) and Tanner Putt (UHC) got away in an early move and spent most of the race out the front with mostly a two minute lead until it came down rapidly to around 35 seconds by the penulatimate lap. Krasilnikau was still out dangling solo on the final lap, but the catch was made with around eight kilometres to go.