With only one minor categorised climb halfway through the stage, stage five of the Tour of California look destined to be decided in a bunch sprint, with Michael Rice (Hagens Berman Axeon), Ruben Companioni and Fabian Lienhard (Holowesko-Citadel), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), and Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2r La Mondiale) being the five riders who formed the day’s doomed breakaway.
The breakaway was not allowed more than 3-30 up the road all day, and as the race entered the final 30km first Rice and then Companioni were dropped from the break, leaving just three riders in the lead who put in a decent fight to hold off the bunch until two kilometres from the line.
While Quick-Step Floors controlled the front of the bunch to keep Fernando Gaviria out of trouble, some of the Colombian’s rivals were not having quite such an easy ride.
Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) suffered a puncture with six kilometres remaining, while Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) first clashed with another rider, requiring him to get a replacement rear wheel with 10km remaining, before he was held up by a crash with three kilometres to go and eventually rolled in in 35th place.
Meanwhile at the front of the bunch Quick-Step Floors delivered a textbook lead-out effort for Gaviria to deliver him to 200m to go at the head of the group with Ewan and Sagan in his wheel.
Although Sagan was unable to come out of Gaviria’s wheel, Ewan launched a spirited charge on the left-hand side of the road, but left it too late to overcome his Quick-Step rival as Gaviria made it two victories from two bunch sprints at this year’s Tour of California.
As for the general classification, there was no change in the top 10 as Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and the rest of the GC contenders finished safely in the main bunch.
Tour of California 2018, stage five: Stockton to Elk Grove, 176.5km
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, in 4-04-34
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
5. John Murphy (USA) Holowesko-Citadel
6. Sean Bennett (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon
7. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
8. Ivo Oliveira (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon
9. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
10. Travis McCabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, in 16-55-29
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky, at 23 secs
3. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac, at 37 secs
4. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-07
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 1-15
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-29
7. Brandon McNulty (USA) Rally Cycling, at 2-08
8. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 2-13
9. Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-15
10. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing, at 2-34