Lancaster grabs lead in Tour of California

SANTA ROSA, California (AP) - Brett Lancaster of Australia surged ahead of a group of 26 riders in the last meters to claim the rain-soaked second stage and the overall race lead Monday in the Tour of California.

Lancaster (Cervelo) who began the day 10 seconds behind in 85th position, completed the 110.1-mile (177.2-kilometer) Davis to Santa Rosa road race in an unofficial finishing time of 4 hours, 38 minutes and 48 seconds.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia (Liqiugas) finished second and Lars Boom (Rabobank) of the Netherlands finished third in the same as the winner.

Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank), the three-time defending race winner, and teammate Lance Armstrong both finished in the lead group. Lancaster, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist in team pursuit, now holds a 4-second race lead because of his 10-second time bonus over Sagan and Karl Menzies (United Healthcare) of Australia.

"These opportunities don't come often," said Lancaster who primarily competes in stage races as a support rider for Heinrich Haussler of Germany and Thor Hushovd of Norway, both former Tour de France stage winners. "But I definitely know I can make more of a career out of being a leader." Haussler didn't make the lead group of 26 riders and finished 41st. Hushovd is recovering from injury and is not competing in the Tour of California.

Leipheimer, who finished seventh in the stage, is now 12th overall in a group of 20 cyclists, including Armstrong, 10 seconds behind Lancaster.

The inclement weather and a stage featuring four climbs shattered the field. More than half of the finishers, including former race leader Mark Cavendish of England, completed the stage at least 10 minutes behind the winner.

Cavendish (HTC-Columbia), the 10-time Tour of France stage winner, finished 96th in the stage, trailing the winner by more than 17 minutes, and is now 87th overall.

The eight-day event continues Tuesday with the 113.3-mile (182.3-kilometer) San Francisco to Santa Cruz road race stage 3.

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