Tom Skujins (Cannondale) took the American WorldTour team’s second stage victory at the 2016 Tour of California after winning the sprint to the line ahead of Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling) and Xabier Zandio (Team Sky).
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step) held on to his overall lead after finishing safely in the peloton behind.
The trio had originally been part of an 18-man breakaway that had got away in the early stages of the 213km stage (and only ever held around three minutes advantage), but managed to get away from their companions as they took on the two category two climbs on the route.
Latvian Skujins went clear from the break after competing for the KOM points on the first category two climb and gained 20 seconds with de Vos, but 14 of members of the original break then caught them on the descent.
Again the pair went clear on the next category two climb shortly after, and this time they were joined by veteran Spaniard Zandio.
They then quickly established a 50 second gap on the reduced chasing group behind, which included Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven and Mark Christian of Team Wiggins, with the peloton still back at 2-50.
Watch: Tour of California 2016 stage five highlights
The cat and mouse between the second group meant the leading trio were able to make it on to the final category three climb to the finish with 35 seconds in hand over Christian, Stuyven and Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha) who had got away from the other riders behind with 5km to go.
Skujins, de Vos and Zandio made it into the final straight together, with the Team Sky rider quickly looking like he wasn’t going to be able to contest the sprint for the line.
The Cannondale man then got on the front and launched is move, with de Vos unable to do anything but stick close behind as Skujins crossed the line to take victory.
BMC were made to work hard for their team leaders Rohan Dennis and Samuel Sanchez on the front of the bunch to try and bring the break back, and eventually the GC contenders rolled in together just 43 seconds down on the winner with no significant losses for anyone.
Friday’s stage six sees the riders take on the first time trial of the race, with a predominantly flat 20.3km course in Folsom that will likely provide a GC shake-up before another tough stage of climbing on Saturday.
Tour of California 2016 stage five, Lodi to South Lake Tahoe (213km)
1. Tom Skujins (Lat) Cannondale, in 5-54-45
2. Adam de Vos (Can) Rally Cycling, st
3. Xabier Zandio (Esp) Team Sky, at 8 secs
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Segafredo, at 28 secs
5. Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha, at 43 secs
6. Rob Squire (USA) Holowekso-Citadel
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep
8. Travis McCabe (USA) Holowekso-Citadel
9. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing
10. Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale, all same time
General classification after stage five
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx-QuickStep, in 24-01-45
2. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 22 secs
3. George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo at 37 secs
4. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing at 40 secs
5. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 49 secs
6. Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman at 1-01
7. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing at 1-01
8. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing at 1-01
9. Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling at 1-12
10. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 1-15