Tour of California stage 3: Skujins wins in San Jose

Toms Skujins took the biggest win of his career in San Jose, pulling off an audacious 55km solo ride to the finish line that also saw him move into the leader’s jersey on stage 3 of the Tour of California. The 23-year-old started to hit the wall in the final kilometre of the climb as Team Sky led the chase behind realising that the GC could be riding away from them, but held firm to take the lead from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) by 32 seconds.

Sagan led home the chasers for his third second place in three days ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick-Step). Mark Cavendish saw his overall lead disappear as he finished in the gruppeto, several minutes down on Skujins.

"The last split I heard was like two minutes," Skujins said after the finish. "And then I thought this last 2km is going to be insufferable. I didn’t look back at all like the whole race, except for that last kilometre because I was like, ‘No way they are going to catch me.’ It was such a relief to get those last 200 metres, because that’s when I really knew that I going to get it."

Skujins was part of a seven-man escape that launched off the back of an attack by Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin) and Travis Meyer (Drapac). Joining the pair were Skujins Daniel Oss (BMC), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Oscar Clark (Hincapie), and Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop).

They built up a lead of nearly five minutes, as Oss went after the mountains classification, but then underestimated the wily Latvian on the climb to Mt. Hamilton, where Skujins stuck in the knife.

Oss chased with Clarke and Huffman all the way to the top, but on the deceptively technical descent, Huffman first lost contact and then Skujins and Clarke each came to grief several times on the descent, but without incident.

Still, Skujins held a lead of two minutes on his chasers, with the peloton four minutes behind as he headed up the penultimate climb and rode himself into the mountains classification.

The Tinkoff-Saxo team chased the seven-man escape from where it left the peloton 36km into the stage until the race hit Mt. Hamilton, the massive hors categorie ascent crested just under 50km to the finish. Sagan chased back through the team cars on the climb, rejoining the peloton after the descent but absent one important item: race leader Mark Cavendish, who threw in the towel on the mountainous stage.

It looked as if Sagan might win the stage, as the finish suited him, but there were two things standing in his way: first, the very determined and underestimated Skujins, who threw caution to the wind even after his two near crashes, hurtling down each descent and then holding his own going uphill, and second, the lack of teammates.

Team Sky looked to keep the general classification in control, but weren't going to chase Skujins down just to hand the yellow jersey over to Sagan. British champion Peter Kennaugh looked increasingly frustrated by the situation as the final 10km clicked down, until finally Phil Deignan took charge and whittled the leader's gap down.

They timed it just well enough to deny Sagan the stage win, but keep Kennaugh and Henao in contention at 47 seconds, time easy enough to get back on Sagan when the race heads up Mt. Baldy, but with plenty of other contenders in tow. Etixx-Quickstep salvaged the day with a fine third place from Julian Alaphilippe, with Cavendish in the points classification lead and Alaphilippe in the white jersey of best young rider.

"Today I thought might be a chance to maybe show myself if the condition was there. Voila, my condition was good," Alaphilippe said. "I was able to stay in the front group with the best guys. In the end it was clear we couldn't catch Skujins, so congratulations to him for a strong stage. I still wanted to go for the podium on the uphill finish and I did it. Against a guy like Peter Sagan I can be satisfied with a third place. Now I am in the White Jersey for Best Young Rider, and fourth in the GC. Tomorrow begins more chances for sprints with Mark. We'll see what we can do. I'm learning more and more day-by-day, and if there can be an opportunity for me in the next days, why not, we will see what I can do to protect my overall position."

In addition to the race lead, Skujins holds the mountains classification.

 Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team4:33:10
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo0:01:06
3Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step
4Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (Col) Jamis - Hagens Berman
5Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:01:09
6Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
7Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky
8Michael Woods (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
9Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin
10Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
11Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team
12Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team
13Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
14Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
15Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop
16Phillip Gaimon (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
17Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing
18Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky
19Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Axeon Cycling Team
20Ben King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
21Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing Team
22Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing
23Janez Brajkovic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
24Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
25James Oram (NZl) Axeon Cycling Team0:01:18
26Lachlan Norris (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
27Carter Jones (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin0:01:25
28Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky0:01:35
29Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky0:01:39
30Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing0:01:57
31Philip Deignan (Irl) Team Sky
32Gregory Obando Brenes (Crc) Jamis - Hagens Berman0:02:16
33Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Cycling Team0:03:39
34Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:04:45
35Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
36Jesus Hernandez Blazquez (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo
37Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing0:06:05
38Chris Butler (USA) Team SmartStop0:06:34
39Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:25
40Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:07:45
41Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Cycling Team0:08:00
42Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka0:08:10
43Travis McCabe (USA) Team SmartStop0:08:54
44Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:12:23
45Gavin Mannion (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
46Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:13:42
47Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Team Sky0:14:26
48Danny Pate (USA) Team Sky
49Alexandr Braico (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:14:28
50Evan Huffman (USA) Team SmartStop0:15:19
51Oscar Clark (USA) Hincapie Racing Team
52Jos van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo0:16:07
53Daniel Eaton (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
54Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
55Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Jamis - Hagens Berman
56Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
57Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka
58John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
59Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
60Angus Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
61Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka
62Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
63Andzs Flaksis (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team
64Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
65Robin Carpenter (USA) Hincapie Racing Team
66Will Routley (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
67Nicolae Tanovitchii (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
68Geoffrey Curran (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
69Daniel Summerhill (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
70Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo0:16:31
71Koen de Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:21:01
72Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
73Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
74Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk
75Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
76Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
77Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
78Fred Rodriguez (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
79Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
80Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
81Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
82Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
83Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
84Eric Marcotte (USA) Team SmartStop
85Edward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
86Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka
87Tom Zirbel (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
88Jempy Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
89Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
90David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
91Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
92Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) Jamis - Hagens Berman
93Dennis van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
94Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
95Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
96Stephen Leece (USA) Jamis - Hagens Berman
97Robert Sweeting (USA) Team SmartStop
98Mark Renshaw (Aus) Etixx - Quick-Step
99Kevin De Mesmaeker (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk
100Carson Miller (USA) Jamis - Hagens Berman
101Travis Livermon (USA) Team SmartStop
102Matthew Brammeier (Irl) MTN - Qhubeka
103Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step
104Jure Kocjan (Slo) Team SmartStop
105Joseph Schmalz (USA) Hincapie Racing Team
106Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
107Joseph Lewis (Aus) Hincapie Racing Team
108Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
109Justin Oien (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
110Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
111Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
112Campbell Flakemore (Aus) BMC Racing Team
113Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
114Michael Mørkøv (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
115Steve Fisher (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
116Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk0:21:56
117Martin Kohler (Swi) Drapac Professional Cycling
118Travis Meyer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
119Jesse Anthony (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
120Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
121Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
122Martin Velits (Svk) Etixx - Quick-Step
123Thomas Soladay (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
124David Williams (USA) Jamis - Hagens Berman
125Daniele Ratto (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
126Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
127Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
128Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky0:22:32
129Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies0:26:47
130Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
131Joshua Berry (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
132William Clarke (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling0:27:49
133Graeme Brown (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling
134Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac Professional Cycling0:28:19
DNFTheo Bos (Ned) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFMarco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
DNFScott Ambrose (NZl) Team Novo Nordisk
DNSWarren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
DNSTyler Magner (USA) Hincapie Racing Team
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Point 1 - Livermore
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Travis Meyer (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling