SANTA CLARITA (AP) — Peter Sagan of Slovakia sprinted to the Stage 3 win and Colombian Janier Acevedo maintained the race lead Tuesday as strong winds replaced the heat at the Tour of California.
Sagan (Cannondale) completed the 110.3-mile Palmdale to Santa Clarita road race in 4 hours, 20 minutes, 31 seconds and was victorious by about a half-bike length.
Michael Matthews (Orica-Greenedge) of Australia was second and American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) was third in the mass sprint finish.
Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) finished in the main field and leads American Tejay van Garderen (BMC) by 12 seconds with five stages left in the eighth annual event. Van Garderen (BMc) also finished in the main field.
“I was very tired after yesterday,” said Acevedo, who had a 12-second win in Stage 2 in temperatures that reached 110 degrees. “I never felt very good the whole day today, so I just tried to stay in there.
“Fortunately, the teams were all working to together for a sprint finish, so the day wasn’t difficult.”
Sagan was favored in the stage, but he appeared out of position before he abruptly went to the right of the field at the last second to tally his ninth win this season.
“With about 700 meters, I was in about 10th position,” said Sagan, who won three Tour de France stages last year and whose Stage 3 win was his ninth Tour of California stage in four years.
“It was a bit crazy, there was confusion because all the teams were trying to get up there. I got to the right to the front with about 100 meters left.”
Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) of Ireland is third overall, trailing by 27 seconds.
The starting field of 127 on Sunday in Escondido was reduced to 115 with four riders not finishing and two not starting the stage.
Former Tour de France winner Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) of Luxembourg, Belgian former race leader Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) of the Netherlands and Americans Chad Beyer (Champion System) and Gavin Mannion (Bontrager) formed a break after about 25 miles.
The foursome built an estimated five-minute margin after 65 miles.
But the field steadily reduced its deficit and Beyer was the last of the leaders caught with eight miles left.
The eight-day event continues Wednesday with the 83.6-mile Stage 4 road race from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara. The route will include two small climbs, but should be a sprint finish.
The 727-mile race concludes with Sunday’s eighth stage 80.7-mile road race in Santa Rosa.