Gaviria dodges crash for win
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.”
Fernando Gaviria waves after winning the fifth stage of the Tour of California.