Ben Swift takes early lead at Tour of California

Last Updated: May 17, 2011, 09:56 AM IST

Sacramento: Britain`s Ben Swift held off a hard-charging Peter Sagan to win the weather-shortened opening stage of the Tour of California.

The 23-year-old Swift on Monday stormed into the lead, emerging from a large sprint pack to finish the 124 kilometers (76.7 miles) in two hours, 47 minutes and 12 seconds.

It was the fifth win of the season for Swift, who competes for Team Sky.

Slovakia`s Sagan, of Liquigas-Cannondale, finished right behind Swift in second and Aussie Matthew Goss, of HTC-Highroad, was third.

Monday`s second stage was run on a shortened course because of snow and chilly temperatures which wiped out Sunday`s planned first of the eight-stage event in the Lake Tahoe area.

Swift goes into the third stage with a four-second cushion over Sagan and a six-second lead over Goss.

Tuesday`s stage features a 196-kilometer (121.9-mile) road race from Auburn, California to Modesto, California.

The event features two summit finishes. The second is the 122-kilometer seventh stage which wraps up near the alpine village of Mt. Baldy, California where the riders will climb to almost 2,000 meters (6,419 feet) above sea level.

The final five kilometres will be especially gruelling, as the seventh stage includes 643 meters of elevation gain.

Bureau Report