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Cavendish Goes 3/5 in California

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May 14, 2015 – Britain’s Mark Cavendish sprinted to victory in the rainswept fifth stage of the Tour of California on Thursday, his third stage win in five days of racing.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

A courageous effort from BMC’s Danilo Wyss came to nothing as the sprinters seized command in the closing meters of the 154-kilometer (95.7-mile) stage from coastal Santa Barbara to inland Santa Clarita. Cavendish’s Etixx-Quick-Step was to the fore as the peloton poured into Santa Clarita under sometimes heavy rain, with Mark Renshaw leading out the Briton.

As Renshaw faded early in the last kilometer, Cavendish stuck to the wheel of Giant-Alpecin’s Zico Waeytens and gunned to the win. Waeytens was second, and Slovakian Peter Sagan of Tinkoff-Saxo was third. Hincapie Racing’s Toms Skujins of Latvia retained the overall lead going into Friday’s stage six time trial, which has been relocated from Big Bear Lake because of snow in the mountains to Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles.

But Sagan gained on Skujins, thanks to a time bonus earned in the stage, and now lies 18 seconds off the lead. Julian Alaphilippe of Etixx is third, 44 seconds adrift.

“I had Mark Renshaw at the end, and as always he was cool and calm, but we had to dig deep,” said Cavendish, who was feeling the cold as he powered into a headwind at the finish. “Daniel Oss attacked in last kilometer, and Mark was cooked, so we couldn’t go as fast as we wanted in the end. It was a headwind finish, and I knew I didn’t want to jump early.”

Wyss was part of a five-man escape that built a gap of about three minutes on the peloton in the early stages. “We had a good group. We were working together all day,” said Wyss, who was finally caught some three kilometers from the finish to set the stage for the sprinters.

Update on Stage 6 Time Trial

A late-season storm bringing snow to Southern California mountains prompted Tour of California organizers to move Friday’s scheduled time trial. The sixth stage of the race had been slated to take place at Big Bear Lake in the San Bernadino Mountains, but because of inclement weather, including snow, the time trials will be held in Valencia, not far from the Santa Clarita finishing point of Thursday’s fifth stage.

The new 10.62 km (6.6-mile) course is flat and fast, and could go some way toward sorting the top of the field prior to Saturday’s mountain stage to the summit of Mount Baldy.

“Everything about this course is primed to deliver fast, exciting racing,” said race director Jim Birrell. “On this fairly short course, the result is really anyone’s guess because there is room for a specialty rider to take the cake from the big hitters in the general classification. Either way, we anticipate a very aggressive attempt for the win.”

Final 10 Kilometers of Stage 5

Results Stage 5:
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR/Etixx) 3hr 51min 37sec
2. Zico Waeytens (BEL/Giant) same time
3. Peter Sagan (SVK/Tinkoff-Saxo) s.t.
4. Jean-Pierre Dricker (LUX/BMC) s.t.
5. Danny van Poppel (NED/Trek) s.t.
6. Guillaume Boivin (CAN/Optum) s.t.
7. John Murphy (USA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t.
8. Mathhew Harley Boss (AUS/MTN-Qhubeka) s.t.
9. Mike Teunissen (NED/Lotto) s.t.
10. Justin Oein (USA/Axeon) s.t.

General Classification:
1. Tom Skujins (LAT/Hincapie Racing) 22:02:34
2. Peter Sagan (SVK/Tinkoff-Saxo) at 0:18
3. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Etixx) 0:44.
4. Robert Gesink (NED/Lotto) 0:47
5. Dion Smith (NZL/Hincapie Racing) s.t.