California 3: Thor Hushovd wins sprint

Leipheimer retains leader's golden jersey

Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) won the 167km Stage 3 of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California from San Jose to Modesto Tuesday.

Hushovd won the mad sprint after a four-man breakaway disintegrated with 5km to go. The Norwegian rider won the stage over Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Mark Renshaw (Team Columbia - Highroad) after an uncomfortably wet and cold day in the saddle.

Hushovd's win came after a textbook leadout by his darkly-clad Cervélo TestTeam mates. They lined up along the finishing circuit and delivered him precisely to the front of the bunch at just the right moment leading up to the line.

"Hayden Roulston started it with a little more than one kilometer to go, then Dominique Rollin pulled into the last corner," said Hushovd. "Then Brett Lancaster took over after the last corner, and I passed him with about 150 meters to go. Our team did a great job today, and I am really thankful. It's the first time we've worked together and it went well, so that was a good start.

"I know that with these guys, we may be one of the best lead-out teams in the world, and I think today that we showed it."

The stage came down to a sprint despite the valiant efforts of four men who spent almost the entire day off the front. Bauke Mollema (Rabobank), Brian Vandborg (Liquigas), Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team) and Bradley White (OUCH p/b Maxxis) broke away on the very first climb of the day, Sierra Road. At times, the peloton lagged five and a half minutes back, but the sprinters' teams got hungry and drove the ultimately successful pursuit to recapture the escapees.

General classification leader Levi Leipheimer kept his position at the top of the standings, but not without a few scary moments. During the stage he crossed paths with a teammate and crashed, but was not seriously injured and was back underway after a speedy bike change. His teammates pulled him safely back up to the peloton, where he remained for the duration.

For complete results and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com. For BikeRadar's Twitter postings, visit www.twitter.com/bikeradar.

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