LIVERMORE, Calif. (AP) — Sprinter Peter Sagan of Slovakia surged to the front in the final 100 yards to win his third straight stage and extend his race lead Tuesday in the third stage of the Tour of California.
Sagan swung wide to the right to edge Heinrich Haussler of Australia for the third day en route to claiming the 115.3-mile San Jose to Livermore road race in 4 hours, 50 minutes and 49 seconds.
"It's a surprise for me," said Sagan, the former junior world mountain bike titlist who tallied his sixth win of the season and 29th of his four-year pro career. "I want to say thank you to my team because they did very good work today."
Former world road titlist Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) of Belgium, the world's No. 1-ranked cyclist, was third.
"This race is very hard for me," Sagan said. "The long climbs and the time trial are not so good for me. I'll try very hard to stay in the (yellow) jersey for another day. But I don't think I'll keep it after the time trial."
Sagan, of the Liquigas-Cannondale team, lead's Haussler, of Garmin-Brracuda, by 12 seconds, with five stages of the eight-day race remaining. Jeffry Louder of UnitedHealthcare is third overall, trailing by 24 seconds.
Defending champion Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) of Bend, Ore., finished in the main field for the third straight day and is 15th overall among the remaining field of 123. He trails Sagan by 30 seconds.
Steve Morabito of Switzerland and Stephen Cummings of Britain, both of the BMC team based in Santa Rosa, Calif., didn't start the stage after crashing late in stage 2. Morabito has shoulder and elbow injuries, while Cummings reinjured a wrist he fractured earlier in the season. Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell) of Dallas, Texas, abandoned the race during the third stage.
The eight-day race continues Wednesday with the race's longest stage, a 130.2-mile road race from Sonora to Clovis. The 735-mile event ends Sunday with a 42.6-mile road race from Beverly Hills to Los Angeles.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.