Australian cyclist Matthew Goss of Orica GreenEdge finished third in Thursday’s fifth stage of the Tour of California, while countryman Rohan Dennis remained second overall behind Britain’s Bradley Wiggins.
American Taylor Phinney raced to a 12-second victory in stage five in extreme heat ahead of Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Cannondale and Goss of Orica GreenEdge.
Phinney, riding for BMC, escaped from the front group with 31km left and completed the 173km stage from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara in three hours, 59 minutes, 33 seconds for his seventh career pro win.
“I wasn’t sure it was the smartest move,” Phinney said. “But I know I can go downhill faster than anyone because I weigh more than anyone. I hadn’t planned to attack until maybe four or five kilometres to go, but I just went on instinct.
“It got more painful, but I knew it would be worth it. This is the way to win. It’s what we live for. It’s what I live for.”
Wiggins, the Sky rider who won the 2012 Tour de France, took the race lead after winning the second stage. He finished in the field to keep a 28-second margin over Australia’s Dennis of Garmin-Sharp.
Portugal’s Tiago Machado of NetApp-Endura, was third overall – 1:09 back.
For the third straight day, the riders raced in unseasonably warm weather.
“Everyone felt the heat today,” Wiggins said. “That was the hottest day I’ve ever experienced on my bike. It was like being in an oven all day.”
The 23-year-old Phinney, 52nd overall, is the son of Davis Phinney, who won more than 300 pro races, and Connie Carpenter Phinney – the 1984 Olympic road race champion.
The eight-day race continues on Friday with a 152km ride from Santa Clarita to Mountain High.
The route includes four climbs, including the most difficult of the race – the final ascent to the Mount High ski area. The 1160km event continues through Sunday in Thousand Oaks.