California - Slovakia's Peter Sagan captured the third stage of the Tour of California on Tuesday, earning his ninth career stage victory in America's most prestigious cycling race.
Sagan completed the 177 kilometre trek from Palmdale to Santa Clarita in four hours, 21 minutes and 31 seconds to edge Aussie Michael Matthews and American Tyler Farrar in a mass sprint to the finish.
Matthews had been led-out by Orica-GreenEdge teammate Baden Cooke with 500 metres to go, but Sagan showed he still had a lot left in the tank as he powered his way around Matthews on the outside to beat the Canberra rider by half a wheel.
Colombia's Javier Acevedo held onto the overall lead with a time of 13:59.50. American Tejay Van Garderen is 12 seconds back in second place.
The Tour of California continues Wednesday with the 135 kilometre fourth stage from the hills of Santa Clarita to the scenic seaside town of Santa Barbara.
By travelling west to the ocean, temperatures should be dramatically cooler than the brutal plus-40 Celsius heat the riders battled in the California desert over the past few days.
For the first time, the Tour will take riders on a route from the southern part of the state northward, starting at Escondido and finishing on May 19 in Santa Rosa, near San Francisco.
The stage race will cover some 1 200 kilometres over the eight stages, highlighted by an individual time trial on the sixth stage and the hors categorie Mount Diablo climb on stage seven.
Results on Tuesday in the 177 kilometre third stage of the Tour of California:
Peter Sagan (SVK) four hours, 20 minutes, 31 seconds, 2. Michael
Matthews (AUS) at 0.00, 3. Tyler Farrar (USA) same time, 4. Gianni
Meersman (BEL) s.t., 5. Boy Van Poppel (NED) s.t., 6. Thor Hushovd (NOR)
s.t., 7. Alexander Candelario (USA) s.t., 8. Sylvain Chavanel (FRA)
s.t., 9. Zakkari Dempster (AUS) s.t., 10. Michael Morkov (DEN) s.t.
Overall standings after stage three
Javier Acevedo (COL) 13 hours, 59 minutes, 50 seconds, 2. Tejay Van
Garderen (USA) at 0:12, 3. Philip Deignan (IRL) 0:27, 4. Michael Rogers
(AUS) 0:55, 5. Francisco Mancebo Perez (ESP) 1:03, 6. Chad Haga (USA)
1:13, 7. Matthew Busche (USA) 1:15, 8. Lawson Craddock (USA) 1:32, 9.
Cameron Meyer (AUS) 1:40, 10. Marc de Maar (AHO) 1:56