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Wiggins Defends California Lead

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AFP / Yuzuru Sunada

Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins retained the Tour of California overall lead on Friday as Colombia’s Esteban Chaves won the sixth stage from Santa Clarita to Mountain High. Wiggins, who took the lead with a triumph in the second stage individual time trial on Monday, finished fifth in the toughest stage of the race and extended his overall lead to 30 seconds going into the final two stages this weekend. Orica rider Chavez powered solo to win the 152-kilometer stage that ended in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles in a time of 4:09:13.

On a day when temperatures again soared into the upper 30s Celsius (near 100 Fahrenheit), the Colombian climber attacked from a small group in the last five kilometers of the final ascent, putting some room between himself and David de la Cruz of Spain and American Tom Danielson. De la Cruz finished second, 13 seconds back, and Danielson was third, 41 seconds adrift. Briton Adam Yates was fourth, 53 seconds back, with Wiggins fifth in the same time. Most importantly, Wiggins held off his nearest rival in the overall classification, Australian Rohan Dennis. Garmin’s Dennis finished seventh, 55 seconds off the lead to surrender two seconds to Wiggins overall.

“We had Tommy D off the front, so we were watching what Sky was doing,” Dennis said. “Hopefully, they were riding hard and they would just blow up like they did on Diablo. But it wasn’t quite as steady an uphill, there was some downhill to recover. When we got to the last kilometer I don’t think I’ve pedaled like that for awhile.”

The race continues Saturday with a 143-kilometer stage from Santa Clarita to Pasadena and concludes on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, in rolling countryside west of Los Angeles.

Tour of California Stage 6
1. Esteban Chaves (COL/Orica) 4:09:13
2. David de la Cruz (ESP) @ :13
3. Tom Danielson (USA) @ :41
4. Adam Yates (GBR) @ :53
5. Bradley Wiggins (GBR) @ s.t.

General Classification After Stage 6
1. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/Sky) 22:03:42
2. Rohan Dennis (AUS) @ :30
3. Lawson Craddock (USA) @ 1:48
4. Tiago Machado (POR) @ 2:02
5. Adam Yates (GBR) @ 2:14