Gaviria dodges crash for win

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - PAGE 2 -

ELK GROVE, Sacra­mento County — The rid­ers be­gan top­pling over a few miles from the fin­ish line, the crash clut­ter­ing up the left side of the road into Elk Grove with bro­ken bikes and bod­ies.

For­tu­nately for Fer­nando Gaviria, he was on the right side of the road.

The Colom­bian sprinter dodged all the trou­ble dur­ing a chaotic fin­ish to the 109.7-mile fifth stage of the Tour of Cal­i­for­nia, then held off hard­charg­ing Caleb Ewan and world cham­pion Peter Sa­gan at the fin­ish line Thurs­day to pick up his sec­ond vic­tory of this year’s race.

Ewan earned his sec­ond podium and Sa­gan wound up third, while Amer­i­can rider Te­jay van Garderen fin­ished safely in the field to main­tain his over­all lead head­ing into Fri­day’s de­ci­sive sum­mit stage.

“I didn’t see (the chaos) be­cause I went to the right. The crash was on the left side. I only lis­tened into my ra­dio,” Gaviria said. “The other guys from the team, they did a re­ally good job, and we are happy be­cause it was a re­ally nice vic­tory to­day.”

The men’s race was rel­a­tively bor­ing most of the day, the break­away never get­ting far enough ahead to cause much con­cern. But things picked up in the run-in to the fin­ish, be­gin­ning with some cross­winds and then some me­chan­i­cal issues that caused trou­ble for some top sprint­ers.

Ear­lier in the day, Amer­i­can rider Ken­dall Ryan won the bunch sprint in Elk Grove to take the first of the three stages of the women’s race. Emma White was sec­ond and An­nette Ed­mond­son was third.

The women will also tackle the big climbs of Lake Ta­hoe, and it will be Ryan in the yel­low jer­sey af­ter her well-timed sprint Thurs­day. The Cal­i­for­nia na­tive has been search­ing for a big re­sult all sea­son, and she de­liv­ered it in a cru­cial race for her Team Tibco-Sil­i­con Val­ley Bank squad.

The joy was ev­i­dent by the tri­umphant roar she let out across the fin­ish line.

“I think ev­ery breath left my body be­cause I was so happy to win. That’s why you saw me scream­ing,” she said. “I’ve never won a yel­low jer­sey so it means a lot, es­pe­cially in my home stage, where I grew up. It’s huge. My whole fam­ily is here, all my friends are cheer­ing me on.

“This was one of my dreams to win,” Ryan said, “so I’m just kind of blown away right now.”

Rich Pe­dron­celli / As­so­ci­ated Press

Fer­nando Gaviria waves af­ter win­ning the fifth stage of the Tour of Cal­i­for­nia.

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