Taylor Phinney of the US raced to a 12-second victory on Thursday in sweltering heat in the fifth stage of the Tour of California as Britain’s Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead.
Phinney, riding for BMC Racing, escaped from the front group with 31km left and completed the 173km stage from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara, California, in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 33 seconds for his seventh career win.
“I wasn’t sure it was the smartest move, but I know I can go downhill faster than anyone because I weigh more than anyone,” Phinney said.
“I hadn’t planned to attack until maybe 4 or 5km 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,” he said.
Wiggins, the Sky Pro Cycling rider who won the 2012 Tour de France, took the race lead after winning the second stage.
He finished in the peloton on Thursday to keep a 28 second margin over Australia’s Rohan Dennis of Garmin-Sharp.
Portugal’s Tiago Machado of NetApp-Endura was third overall, 1:09 back.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling was second on the stage, while Australia’s Matthew Goss of Orica-GreenEdge was third.
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 is the son of Davis Phinney, who won more than 300 professional races, and Connie Carpenter Phinney, the 1984 Olympic road race champion. Phinney is now 52nd overall.
The eight-day race continued yesterday with a 152km ride from Santa Clarita to Mountain High, California. The route included four climbs, including the most difficult of the race — the final ascent to the Mount High ski area.
The 1,160km tour finishes tomorrow in Thousand Oaks.
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