California: Australian Michael Rogers retained the overall lead in the mountain stage of the Tour of California, while 20-year-old Peter Sagan of Slovakia captured his second straight stage victory.
Rogers, who assumed the race lead with his runner-up finish on Thursday, finished third in the mountainous 217.7-km stage from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake.
Sagan, riding in his first pro season, powered ahead of the rest of the overall contenders during the waning meters of the grueling stage. Rory Sutherland Australia was second.
American Levi Leipheimer, winner of the last three Tour of California races, finished fourth in the stage and dropped into fourth place overall, trailing by 14 seconds
Rogers will carry a four-second advantage over American David Zabriskie into the race`s penultimate stage. With his time bonus for winning the stage, Sagan moved into third place overall, trailing by nine seconds.
Since the race began May 16 in Nevada City, none of the four race leaders have held more than a four-second lead.
The individual time trial stage will be held Saturday and the top-five riders are all within 30 seconds of each other in the overall standings.
The eight-day event concludes Sunday in Thousand Oaks.