Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) made it through stage five of the Tour of California without major incident and so moved a step closer to overall victory in the stateside stage race.
Wiggins finished safely in the peloton after Taylor Phinney (BMC) held off the bunch to win a memorable stage into Santa Barbara. The overall classification remained unchanged with Wiggins retaining his lead of 28 seconds over Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and 1:09 minutes ahead of Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura).
The stage’s major obstacle saw the field climb San Marcos Pass but without a summit finish and with Cannondale and Orica GreenEdge willing to help set tempo in a bid to set-up Peter Sagan and Matthew Goss for the sprint and distance Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Team Sky and Wiggins were given a relatively easy day in the saddle.
“It went really well for us out there. Several teams were prepared to share the workload with us and then Brad and Josh [Edmondson] rode tempo as Cannondale set a fast pace on the climb,” Servais Knaven said on the team’s website.
"It was a pretty hard one, especially with the speed they went up it, and a lot of guys got dropped. Brad, Danny and Josh were there though and they all looked really solid. That was good to see, especially with the sweltering weather we had again today, and obviously going into the sixth stage.”
Stage six from Santa Clarita to Mountain High will be an altogether different proposition with a summit finish set to force Wiggins to defend his lead against the pure climbers and his current podium rivals Dennis and Machado.
"There it will a similar scenario, and we'll be looking to make sure Brad saves as much energy as possible before riding hard on the long climb to the summit. He's in great form at the moment and we're really impressed with how he's performing. If we can defend the jersey tomorrow, that will leave us in a great position heading into the weekend stages,” Knaven added.
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