California - Peter Sagan, who had to deal with a flat back tire in the last five miles, recovered by chasing down the field to win the opening stage of the Tour of California on Sunday.
Sagan earned his fourth stage win in the Tour of California despite losing 20 seconds during the mechanical change in the final sprint.
"It was a confusing finish," said Sagan. "There were very few people in the peloton."
The Liquigas-Cannondale team rider also managed to avoid a crash ahead of him as he guided through a technical decent in the scenic wine country area to finish just ahead of Heinrich Haussler and Fred Rodriguez.
The crash took place with about three miles to go and involved about 12 competitors, including one of the race's top sprinters, Michael Matthews. Sagan overtook Haussler and Rodriguez in the last mile.
The racers had to cycle through morning fog at the beginning of Sunday's stage, but blue skies provided a fitting finish as they sprinted through the streets of Santa Rosa.
The 115.9-mile first stage of North America's most prominent cycling race began the eight-day, 733.5-mile journey that ends in Los Angeles.
Leading results of Sunday's first stage of the Tour of California, a 115.9mile ride in Santa Rosa:
Stage:1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Liquigas) 4hrs, 42 mins, 35secs
2. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) s.t.
3. Freddy Rodriguez (USA) s.t.
4. Leigh Howard (AUS) s.t.
5. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) s.t.
6. George Hincapie (USA) s.t.
7. Ryan Anderson (USA) s.t.
8. Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL) s.t.
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) s.t.
10. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP) s.t.
Overall standings:1. Peter Sagan (SVK/Liquigas) in 4hrs 42:25.
2. Heinrich Haussler (AUS) at 04.
3. Jeffry Louder (USA) 04.
4. Freddy Rodriguez (USA) 06.
5. Ben Jacques-Mayne (USA) 06.
6. Joshua Atkins (NZL) 09.
7. Leigh Howard (AUS) 10.
8. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) 10.
9. George Hincapie (USA) 10.
10. Ryan Anderson (USA) 10.