Sagan wins fifth stage
California - Slovakia's Peter Sagan powered ahead over the final 100 metres to win the fifth stage of the Tour of California on Thursday while American Chris Horner retained the overall lead.
On a crash-littered day, Sagan completed the 217.4 kilometre (135.1 mile) road race from Seaside to Paso Robles in five hours, 16 minutes and three seconds after breaking clear with a late move to the right side of the road.
Leigh Howard of Australia finished the stage in second with Britain's Ben Swift, winner of the opening stage, third.
"The win wouldn't have been possible without my teammates," Sagan said of the steady crosswinds that buffeted the riders on the longest stage of the race.
"Last year's wins, including the mountain win at Big Bear Lake, were difficult. But today was tough, too, because it (the stage) was so long."
Horner, who placed 10th at last year's Tour de France, was surrounded by teammates for most of the day as he tried to protect his overall race lead of 75 seconds following his mountaintop victory in Wednesday's stage four.
"I had the best place in the race today," said Horner, who moved toward the front when late gaps opened as the field approached the finish line.
Three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer, Horner's teammate, was second overall with fellow American Tom Danielson third, trailing by one minute 22 seconds.
Several riders crashed in separate accidents during Thursday's stage.
Former world time trial titlist Gustav Larsson of Sweden and American Ben Jacques-Maynes pulled out of the race because of unspecified injuries.
Thor Hushovd of Norway, the reigning world road titlist and an eight-time Tour de France stage winner, also quit the event because of illness.
The 24 km individual time trial, which Leipheimer has won en route to his three consecutive Tour of California titles beginning in 2007, will be held on Friday as stage six.
1. Peter Sagan, Liquigas, Slovakia, 5 hours, 16 minutes, 3 seconds.
2. Leigh Howard, HTC-Highroad, Australia, same time.
3. Ben Swift, Sky, Britain, same time.
4. Paul Martens, Rabobank, Germany, same time.
5. Alex Candelario, Kelly Benefit, United States, same time.
6. Jonas Jorgensen, Saxo-Bank, Denmark, same time.
7. Coen Vermeltfoort, Rabobank, Netherlands. same time.
8. Taylor Phinney, BMC, United States, same time.
9. Frank Pipp, Bissell, United States, same time.
10. Alexander Gottfried, NetApp, Germany, same time.
1. Chris Horner, RadioShack, United States, 16 hours, 45 minutes, 35 seconds.
2. Levi Leipheimer, RadioShack, United States, 1 minute, 15 seconds behind.
3. Tom Danielson, Garmin-Cervelo, United States, 1:22 behind.
4. Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Cervelo, United States, 1:29.
5. Rory Sutherland, United Healthcare, Australia, 1:30
6. Andy Schleck, Leopard-Trek, Luxembourg, same time.
7. Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Cervelo, Canada, 1:36 behind
8. Linus Gerdemann, Leopard-Trek, Germany, 1:50.
9. Laurens Ten Dam, Rabobank, Netherlands, 2:00.
10. Tejay Van Garderen, HTC-Highroad, United States, 2:05.