LAKE TAHOE (AP) — Toms Skujins delivered his U.S.-based team another win in the nation’s highest-profile race.
The young Latvian rider pulled away from Adam De Vos and Xabier Zandio, the only remnants of an early breakaway, and cruised across the finish line to win Stage 5 of the Tour of California on Thursday.
Skujins won three days after Cannondale Pro Cycling teammate Ben King won in a breakaway.
Julian Alaphilippe finished 43 seconds back in a pack of overall contenders on the 132-mile route through vineyards and forestland to retain the yellow jersey. Peter Stetina remained 22 seconds adrift in second and George Bennett 37 seconds back in third.
Skujins, who also won a stage from a long breakaway last year, was only part of an 18-rider group that broke free from the peloton early in the race. Skujins tried to attack the breakaway once, only to get reeled back, but then made a second attack succeed when he was joined by two other riders.
In the end, De Vos and Zandio couldn’t match him in the sprint at picturesque Lake Tahoe.
Earlier in the day, American rider Megan Guarnier won the opening stage of the women’s race with a solo attack of her. The world bronze medalist out-raced Emma Johansson to the line by 4 seconds to take the yellow jersey into the second of four stages.
Kristin Armstrong finished third in another impressive performance as she tries to earn a spot on the U.S. team for the Rio Olympics. The two-time and reigning time trial gold medalist retired after the London Games but decided to try to qualify for one more Summer Olympics.
The sixth stage Friday is an individual time trial for the men and a team time trial for the women over the same 12.5-mile course that begins and ends in downtown Folsom.
The race against the clock is not Alaphilippe’s forte, so he will be trying to hold onto his overall race lead. He led on the penultimate day a year ago before falling to second on the final day.
The Tour of California concludes Sunday in Sacramento.