The 2016 Amgen Tour of California continued on Thursday with a long drag from Lodi to South Lake Tahoe – almost an entire day of climbing.
A large escape group formed up relatively early on, including British riders Adam Blythe (Tinkoff), Owain Doull and Mark Christian (both Team Wiggins).
As the climbing started to take its toll, the lead group shed riders until it was just a trio left: Xabier Zandio (Team Sky), Tom Skujins (Cannondale) and Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling).
Skujins had been one of the most active riders of the day, attacking on the two second category climbs near heading towards the finish. The trio kept the chase group at bay over the final third category climb, and into the finish straight.
Zandio faded, with Skujins leading de Vos home for the victory.
Overall race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) finished in the peloton just behind the lead trio to retain his position at the top of the general classification.
Friday’s stage six time trial will be an important day in shaping the general classification. The flat 20.3-kilometre test against the clock in Folsom could create some significant time gaps between riders before the race resumes on Saturday for the penultimate stage.