Santa Rosa: Australian Brett Lancaster has outraced his rivals over the final meters to capture the rain-soaked second stage of the Tour of California and claim the overall race lead.
Lancaster, riding for the Cervelo team, began the 10 day seconds off the pace but the veteran support rider won his first road race since 2004 by capturing the 176.2-km stage from Davis to Santa Rosa in 4hrs 38mins 48secs.
“I put a lot of hard work into the last four weeks. A win like this is just incredible,” Lancaster said. “These opportunities don’t come often but I definitely know I can make more of a career out of being a leader.”
Slovak rider Peter Sagan of Team Liquigas was second with Dutchman Lars Boom of Rabobank third, both in the same time as Lancaster.
Lancaster, a 2004 Athens Olympic team pursuit champion, owns a four-second overall lead over Sagan and Australian Karel Menzies thanks to a 10-second time bonus for winning the stage.
Britain’s Mark Cavendish, a 10-time stage winner in the Tour de France, owned a four-second edge after the opening stage but fell to 87th after coming home Monday some 17 minutes behind Lancaster.
Three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer and fellow American Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, also finished in the top pack. Leipheimer is 12th overall with Aromstrong 18th, both 10 seconds off the pace.
The eight-stage event, which continues Tuesday with a 152.3-km third stage from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, concludes Sunday.