Slovakian sensation Peter Sagan took his second win in as many days as he beat a very select group of 21 riders to the line at the Snow Summit Ski Station in Big Bear Lake on stage six of the Tour of California.
Britain's Mark Cavendish was one of a number of riders who finished outside the time limit.
While Sagan was clearly the fastest man in the front group, race leader Michael Rogers snuck in for third, gaining four seconds on his rivals the day before the crucial 20-mile time trial in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.
The 135-mile stage from Palmdale to Big Bear was dubbed the queen stage of the Amgen Tour of California and for good reason. Not only were there seven categorised climbs, but Dawson Summit at 7,950 feet above sea level is the highest point ever reached in the race's five year history. In all, the stage totaled over 12,000 of vertical ascent.
Anticipating over six hours in the saddle, a breakaway formed on the day's first ascent. With Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Jacob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank), Jason McCartney (RadioShack), Stef Clement (Rabobank) and Matt Wilson (Garmin-Transitions) there was enough high quality horsepower to potentially stay away to the finish. Schleck had yet to find his form in California. This was the type of move that many expected to see from the Luxembourger.
While the escapees rode smoothly and strongly the stage was just a bit too long for them to sustain their efforts. RadioShack, HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions, the three top teams in the race, brought back the break in the final fifteen miles.
At the catch Marc De Maar (United Health Care) launched a solo attack which looked very promising. However, with time bonuses on the line for the first three finishers the overall contenders were looking to pad their accounts with a few seconds before the time trial and the move failed in the final kilometer.
Sagan continues to impress. Not only can the 20-year old sprint, but his climbing is also first rate. His time bonus for the win jumped him over Levi Leipheimer into third place. If the Slovakian can time trial, he has a good shot at the overall title.
Tour of California 2010, stage six: Palmdale - Big Bear Lake, 218km
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo in 6-07-08
2. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare
3. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions
6. Phil Zajicek (USA) Fly V Australia
7. Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
8. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions
9. Jens Voigt (Ger) Saxo Bank
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions all same time
Overall classification after stage six
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia in 29-04-03
2. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 4secs
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 9secs
4. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 14secs
5. Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare at 29secs
6. Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare at 32secs
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 35secs
8. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 35secs
9. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack at 35secs
10. Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions at 35secs
Stage five: Sagan scores win as Rogers takes lead
VIDEO: Tour of California stage four
Stage four: Chicchi denies Cavendish a second win
Stage three: Zabriskie continues Garmin's winning streak with stage win
VIDEO: Tour of California 2010, stage three
Stage two: Lancaster takes rainy stage
VIDEO: Tour of California 2010, stage two
VIDEO: Tour of California 2010, stage one
Stage one: Cavendish gets off to winning start in California
Tour of California 2010: The Big Preview
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