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Tens of thousands of people lined downtown Santa Rosa streets Sunday to see the final sprint of the Amgen Tour of California and greet 111 riders with a cacophonous roar as the peloton whirred in just before noon.

Peter Sagan, 23, of Slovakia, who rides for Cannondale Pro Cycling, won the final stage, marking the second year in a row that he was first across the line on Third Street. Sagan took home the green jersey for the tour's best sprinter.

But it was rising American star Teejay van Garderen, 24, riding safely near the front of the pack, who won the overall eight-day title on behalf of the Santa Rosa-based BMC Racing Team.

It was the first stage-race win for the Montana native who finished fifth in last year's Tour de France.

"Everything just finally came together," he said. I've known for years that I'm capable of a ride like this and for it to all come into place, it's really special."

BMC also won the overall team title.

van Garderen covered the 749 miles in 29 hours, 41 minutes. He went to the front on the fifth day and did not relinquish the leader's yellow jersey the rest of the way.

Australian Michael Rogers was second overall, 1:47 behind and Columbian Janier Alexis Acevedo was third, 3:26 back.

The finish gave local cycling fans a chance to view some of the greatest riders in the world duking it out on the road.

"I'm just into the excitement of the finish line," said Octavio Gutierrez of Santa Rosa. "You can almost feel the riders going by. It's kind of a thrill for me."

The crowds were noticeably smaller than last year's. On Sunday, while spectators took their normal perches in trees and elevated locations, many fans were able to sprint between Fourth and Third streets for multiple vantage points of the race as riders completed two circuits of the downtown.

The rapid finish was a far cry from 2012, when Santa Rosa hosted the overall start of the tour. On that day, riders did two neutral laps around Courthouse Square before going on a course that took them to Windsor and back into Santa Rosa, then out to the coast before returning to Santa Rosa for a sprint finish.

Still, the whirlwind of watching the final moments of the race was part of the draw for some.

"I like to watch the finish for the excitement and I like to watch the podium (presentations)," said Carolyn Risley of Sebastopol who rode into town on her bike.

Also a draw was the sheer spectacle of the day. As temperatures hovered in the mid-80s, bike vendors worked in tents filled with carbon fiber do-dads and titanium widgets, and massive screens showed the progress of the riders heading north from San Francisco as the play-by-play announcers tried to get the crowd excited by issuing sports hyperbole at great volume: a move to the front might leave racers picking their teeth up from the roadway, the pace setters were "driving the nails in," and the onrush of the peloton and all the assorted support cars was the "charge of the light brigade!"

As in years past, Juan Gonzalez had come a long way for the race that was soon to barrel into downtown Santa Rosa.

"I'm a fanatic," said Gonzalez of Lagos de Moreno, in Jalisco, Mexico, not far from Guadalajara, as he browsed the bike-maker Specialized team's tent on Mendocino Avenue.

"It's my passion," said Gonzalez, who was in San Jose last year for stage three of the race and Sacramento for a stage in 2011.

Yvonne Adan of Oxnard started the day in San Francisco so she could see the peloton head north. She then drove north on Highway 101 to Santa Rosa to see the finish — her camera and telephoto lens aimed down Third Street.

On Saturday, she and her partner picked out a spot on Mt. Diablo and watched the riders climb by.

"In waiting, you make friends, people who are waiting also," she said. "You take your pictures and hope you get something good."

The race on Sunday pulled in crowds of parents with kids, cyclists in bright riding kits and even pros themselves.

"Fast" Freddie Rodriguez, 39, a decorated professional who is a three-time national road race champion, spent Sunday watching the race with sons, Max, 3, and Aidan, 7. Rodriguez last week signed a contract with the Jelly Belly squad, a deal that means he'll be showing up in area races, he said.

"I'll be back racing in California," he said.

Sunday's event marked a departure of sorts for Santa Rosa organizers who this year prohibited food purveyors in the square with the hope that spectators would patronize downtown restaurants.

But some spectators, though generally delighted at the atmosphere, said they would have preferred food vending trucks and booths as an option.

"We're actually looking for food right now," said Roy Garcillano of Vallejo. The aim of supporting local eateries was a good one, he said, "but I think there's room for both."

Daisy Hardwick of Milpitas brought her sisters and daughter to watch the finale. Such events "bring the community together" differently than other sporting events, she said. "The athletes come to the people," she said.

But they too missed the food vendors. "When we got here there was nothing," Hardwick said. "We ate at the mall."

As they have in past years, race coordinators praised the Santa Rosa team that put together the event as well as the crowds of cycling enthusiasts who turn out year after year. The city has been part of the race in seven of its eight years.

"Santa Rosa has always played a great host to our overall start and every stage we've been here," said race director Jim Birrell. "There is such a rich history in the sport of cycling here in the north."

The support racing gets in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County is "unprecedented to say the least."

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