Late attack nets Taylor Phinney the stage victory in Santa Barbara and Bradley WIggins maintains overall lead

Taylor Phinney (BMC) claimed the fifth stage of the Tour of California on Thursday after a late attack off the top of the day’s final climb saw him cross the line solo in Santa Barbara ahead of the peloton.

Phinney attacked on the descent of San Marcos Pass in sweltering temperatures, building up clear air between himself and the chasing bunch. By the finish, Phinney was still 12 seconds ahead and raised his arms skyward in celebration.

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) led the peloton home for second place, with Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) in third. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) had earlier dropped off the pace, and crossed the line in the third group of riders at 11-43.

“I was nervous about the climb,” Phinney said afterwards. “I was nervous about the heat. Once we got on the climb, I knew I was going to be able to stay with the group and at least sprint for top three and maybe get on the podium again. But to do what I did is kind of one of those things where you get to the finish and you’re like, ‘How did I do that?’ And why did I do that?”

The day’s six-man escape group had not been allowed to gain significant time over the peloton, perhaps mindful of the previous day’s antics where the break stayed away. However, the sprinters’ team did not predict Phinney’s daring solo move, and it was another day that rewarded the daring.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) safely retained his overall lead in the race. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) sits at 28 seconds behind the 2012 Tour de France winner, with Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) in third at 1-09. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) continues in fifth spot, at 2-14.

Friday is crunch time for the overall contenders, who face a summit finish at Mountain High, which could provide a platform for a general classification upset.

Results
Tour of California 2014, stage five: Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara, 173.8km
1. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing in 3-59-33

2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale at 12 secs
3. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
5. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare
6. Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Shimano
7. Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Giant-Shimano
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing
9. Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
10. Tiago Machado (Por) NetApp-Endura at same time
Other
22. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at same time

Overall classification after stage five
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky in 17-53-36

2. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp at 28 secs
3. Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura at 1-09
4. Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano at 1-25
5. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 2-14
6. Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing at 2-28
7. Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing at 2-29
8. Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies at 2-31
9. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin at 2-33
10. Javier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Garmin-Sharp at 2-34

Bradley Wiggins in race lead, Tour of California 2014 stage five

Bradley Wiggins in race lead, Tour of California 2014 stage five