- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - American Taylor Phinney raced to a 12-second victory Thursday in 100-degree heat in the fifth stage of the Tour of California, and Britain’s Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead.

Phinney, riding for BMC, escaped from the front group with 19 miles left and completed the 107.4-mile stage from Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara in 3 hours, 59 minutes, 33 seconds for his seventh career pro win.

“I wasn’t sure it was the smartest move,” Phinney said. “But I know I can go downhill faster than anyone because I weigh more than anyone. I hadn’t planned to attack until maybe 4 or 5 kilometers to go, but I just went on instinct. … It got more painful, but I knew it would be worth it. This is the way to win. It’s what we live for. It’s what I live for.”

The 23-year-old Phinney, 6-foot-5 and 180 pounds, is the son of Davis Phinney, who won more than 300 pro races, and Connie Carpenter Phinney, the 1984 Olympic road race champion.

Wiggins, the Sky rider who won the 2012 Tour de France, took the race lead after winning the stage 2 individual time trial. He finished 22nd in the main field in stage 5 to keep a 28-second margin over Australia’s Rohan Dennis of Garmin-Sharp.

Portugal’s Tiago Machado of NetApp-Endura, was third overall - 1:09 back.

Slovakia’s Peter Sagan of Cannondale was second in the stage, and Australia’s Matthew Goss of Orica GreenEdge was third in the same time.

For the third straight day, the riders raced in unseasonably warm weather.

“Everyone felt the heat today,” Wiggins said. “That was the hottest day I’ve ever experienced on my bike. It was like being in an oven all day.”

With his stage win secure, Phinney bowed as he crossed the finish line and then thrust both arms above his head. He began the stage in 54th place, trailing Wiggins by 19½. Phinney is now 52nd overall.

The eight-day race continues Friday with a 94.4-mile ride from Santa Clarita to Mountain High. The route includes four climbs, including the most difficult of the race - the final 1.2-mile ascent to the Mount High ski area. The 720-mile event continues through Sunday in Thousand Oaks.

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