Britain's Mark Cavendish claimed his second successive stage win in the Tour of California on Thursday while twice champion Levi Leipheimer of the United States maintained the overall lead.
AFP - Britain's Mark Cavendish of Columbia sprinted to victory in the Tour of California on Thursday, his second straight stage win in the race still led by American Levi Leipheimer.
For the second day in a row, Cavendish edged Belgian Quick Step rider Tom Boonen. But after edging the Belgian by just centimeters in stage four on Wednesday, Cavendish won by a bike length in stage five as he raced himself across the line.
During the sprint, Cavendish said, "I could see a shadow to my right.
"I thought it was Tom Boonen coming round. But when I took a look at the video, I saw I was sprinting into my shadow."
Spain's Pedro Horillo (Rabobank) was third in the longest stage of the nine day race, which brought the field 216 km from Visalia.
Sprint phenomenon Cavendish, winner of four stages of the Tour de France last year, said he pencilled in stage five as a target before the race began.
"This is the day I was planning on coming and winning this year," he said, but added the stage was more difficult than he expected.
" It was a hard day actually, harder than we anticipated," he said, adding that the distance, the pace, and the work required to reel in a long six-man breakaway, was reminiscent of the Tour de France.
Cavendish credited his team, and lead-out man Mark Renshaw, with again putting him in perfect position to display his sprint skill at the end.
"The last kilometer we had a slight downhill, the last 500m. Mark Renshaw went again just before 500 and dropped me off at 200 ... it was just a battle of teams, really. Fortunately we came out top."
America's two-time defending champion Leipheimer finished in the pack and retained the overall leader's yellow jersey.
His Astana teammate Lance Armstrong remained fourth overall, 30 seconds off the lead
Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, launched a comeback this year after a three and a half year hiatus.
The Tour of California is his second race of 2009, after the Tour Down Under in Australia last month, and his campaign is slated to include the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
Friday's sixth stage is a 24 km individual time trial that could prove decisive in determining the final outcome of the race, which concludes on Sunday.
Date created : 2009-02-20