May 18, 2011 / 1:16 AM / 9 years ago

Henderson wins third stage of Tour of California

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - New Zealand’s Greg Henderson sprinted clear of the chasing pack to win the third stage of the Tour of California on Tuesday and grab the overall lead in the weather-effected race.

A former world track champion, Henderson completed the 192.2 kilometer (121.9 mile) road race from Auburn to Modesto in 5 hours 14 minutes 29 seconds.

Juan Jose Haedo of Argentina finished second, just a bike’s length behind Henderson, while Norwegian world road champion Thor Hushovd was third.

“There was a lot of chaos on the final lap,” said the 34-year-old Henderson.

“We were all lined up. With 100 meters to go, I thought no-one had come around me, so I just kept my head down. I was absolutely spent at the line.”

Henderson began the day in 11th position, trailing his British team mate Ben Swift, who won Monday’s stage, by 10 seconds.

The New Zealander earned a 10 second bonus for Tuesday’s stage win, giving him the same overall time as Swift, but was handed the leader’s jersey on a tiebreak.

Swift retained second place overall with Peter Sagan of Slovakia third, four seconds behind the two Team Sky riders.

“I think we defended the jersey honorably today,” said Henderson.

“We sent two guys to the front, but there was a mix up. I opened up with 500 meters to go expecting Swift but he wasn’t there.”

Strong headwinds and crosswords and periodic rain slowed the field down for most of the stage, with the main bunch arriving at the finish about an hour later than expected.

The foul weather has been playing havoc with the race with Sunday’s opening stage canceled because of unseasonal snow and Monday’s second stage shortened.

The riders will head to the hills on Wednesday for the first mountaintop stage of the Tour, a 131.8km (81.8 miles) trek from Livermore to San Jose.

Editing by Julian Linden

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