Skujins wins Tour of California fifth stage

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Toms Skujins of Latvia, riding for team Cannondale Pro Cycling celebrates after winning stage five of the Amgen Tour of California (AFP Photo/Chris Graythen)
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San Francisco (AFP) - Latvia's Toms Skujins won the fifth stage of the Tour of California on Thursday as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe retained his grip on the overall lead.

Cannondale rider Skujins, already a stage winner in the US cycling showpiece in 2015, came home ahead of Canada's Adam De Vos (Rally Racing) and Spain's Xabier Zandio of Team Sky.

Skujins' victory came at the end of a demanding 131.7 mile (210 kilometer) uphill battle stretching from the scenic California wine country town of Lodi into the Sierra Nevada Mountains before finishing on the short of southern Lake Tahoe.

Skujins broke clear with around 19 miles to go, before being joined by De Vos and Zandio.

Behind them, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Mark Christian (Wiggins) and Katusha's Jacopo Guarnieri upped the pace in an attempt to close the gap but the break proved decisive.

De Vos sought to make a break for the line but Skujins turned on the power to overhaul the Canadian and claim the win in 5hr 54min 45sec.

Alaphilippe, meanwhile, retained his overall lead after finishing seventh, 43 seconds off the front.

Alaphilippe remains 22 seconds clear of American rider Peter Stetina and 37 seconds ahead of Lotto-Jumbo rider George Bennett of New Zealand.

Friday's sixth stage is a 12.6 mile time trial around the California town of Folsom.