San Francisco - Norway's Alexander Kristoff won the seventh and penultimate stage of the Tour of California on Saturday as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey to stay on course for victory in the overall standings.
Katusha rider Kristoff, perfectly worked into position by his team-mates, prevailed in a sprint finish to come home ahead of Slovak Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Sky rider Danny van Poppel of the Netherlands.
Alaphilippe, of Etixx-Quick Step, finished 14th but is all but guaranteed victory in the general classification when the US cycling showpiece winds to a close on Sunday.
The French rider withstood a day of repeated attacks on the 109.1-mile stage through the famed California wine region of Sonoma before finishing the day with a 16-second overall lead.
Alaphilippe has a total time of 28hr 46min 38secs, ahead of nearest rival Rohan Dennis of Australia (BMC) and Brent Bookwalter (BMC).
Sunday's 85.7-mile final stage will start and finish in Sacramento over a course expected to favor the peloton's sprinters.
Leading results and standings after stage seven of the Tour of California on Saturday:
1. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/Katusha) 4hr 19min 52sec, 2. Peter Sagan
(SVK/Tinkoff) same time, 3. Danny van Poppel (NED/SKY) s.t., 4. Mike
Teunissen (NED/LottoNL-Jumbo) s.t., 5. Bryan Coquard (FRA/Direct
Energie) s.t., 6. Jasper Stuyven (BEL/Trek) s.t., 7. Travis McCabe
(USA/Holowesko) s.t.,8. John Degenkolb (GER/Giant) s.t., 9. Timo Roosen
(NED/LottoNL-Jumbo) s.t., 10. Ruben Guerreiro (POR/Axeon) s.t.
Overall standings:1. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/Etixx-Quick-Step) 28hr 46min 38sec, 2.
Rohan Dennis (AUS/BMC) at 16sec, 3. Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) 38, 4.
Andrew Talansky (USA/Cannondale) 47, 5. Neilson Powless (USA/Axeon) 1min
8sec, 6. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/BMC) 1:17, 7. Lawson Craddock
(USA/Cannondale) s.t., 8. Laurens ten Dam (NED/Giant) 1:24, 9. George
Bennett (NZL/Lotto-Jumbo) 1:45, 10. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/Katusha) 1:48