Latvian Toms Skujins kept a star-studded chase group at bay to take a solo win on stage three of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Toms Skujins (Hincapie Racing Team) was the surprise winner on stage three of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California on Tuesday, taking a solo victory in San Jose and with it the overall race lead.

The relatively unknown 23-year-old Latvian time-trialled his way to victory, defying the chase from a group of overall contenders.

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) brought the bunch home for another second place over a minute behind Skujins, with Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) in third.

Britain’s Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) relinquished the race lead to Skujins. Sagan retains his second position overall, 32 seconds behind Skujins with Canadian Rob Britton (SmartStop) in third at 43 seconds. British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Sky) now sits in 11th place overall. Cavendish retains the point classification lead.

Skujins was part of the day’s original seven-rider escape group, but as the hilly day progressed the break whittled down to four men before Skujins attacked on the main climb of the day, Mount Hamilton.

Tinkoff Saxo, stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Tinkoff Saxo, stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Skujins continued alone as the rest of the remnants of the break were mopped up. Behind, the peloton began to panic with Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky teams realising that they were making little headway in catching Skujins. They upped the pace, with the result that many riders were dropped and the size of the peloton was severely reduced.

>>> Mark Cavendish back on top in battle of the sprinters

Cavendish was one of those left behind, losing the overall lead but with one eye on the following day’s more favourable parcours for a possible third stage victory after winning both the opening two days.

Skujins was grimacing on the steep final kick to the line after his mammoth solo effort but managed to keep the bunch at bay and take a memorable solo win – and no doubt brought himself to the attention of several WorldTour team managers in the process.

Wednesday’s stage four runs from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, and features a lengthy climb up Tepusquet Road right in the middle of the stage. Despite that, the day may once again come down to a bunch sprint with plenty of time for the sprinters’ teams to pull back any escapees before the finish.

Results
Tour of California 2015, stage three: San Jose to San Jose, 170.1km
1. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 1-06
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep
4. Daniel Jaramillo (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman at same time
5. Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing at 1-09
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
8. Mike Woods (Can) Optum
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Alpecin
10. Joe Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin at same time

Overall classification after stage three
1. Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 32 secs
3. Rob Britton (Can) SmartStop at 43 secs
4. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep at 44 secs
5. Daniel Jaramillo (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman at 44 secs
6. Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team at 47 secs
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 47 secs
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing at 47 secs
9. Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Alpecin at 47 secs
10. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo at 47 secs
Other
11. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 47 secs

Peloton, stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Peloton, stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Peter Kennaugh, now 11th overall after stage 3 of the 2015 Tour of California

Peter Kennaugh, now 11th overall after stage 3 of the 2015 Tour of California

Mark Cavendish in points lead, Tour of California 2015

Mark Cavendish in points lead

Toms Skujiens in overall lead after stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California

Toms Skujiens in overall lead after stage three of 2015 Amgen Tour of California