May 17, 2011 / 1:00 AM / 9 years ago

Swift wins delayed start to Tour of California

Stage 2 winner Team Sky's Ben Swift (C) of Great Britain salutes the crowd, flanked by Slovakian Peter Sagan of Team Liquigas-Cannondale (L) in second place and Team HTC-Highroad's Matthew Goss of Australia in third place, after Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California in Sacramento, California May 16, 2011. REUTERS/Max Whittaker

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British cyclist Ben Swift broke free from the pack to win the belated opening to the weather-hit Tour of California on Monday.

The 23-year-old Swift, a former track specialist, surged clear in the sprint finish to win the 123-kilometre (77 mile) stage by a single bike’s length in two hours 47 minutes and 12 seconds.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who claimed two stages of the tour last year, was second while Australia’s Matt Goss was third.

“The team was awesome, they worked perfectly,” said Swift.

The stage, originally scheduled to begin at Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, was shortened by more than 80km because of heavy rain in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

It was the second day in a row the tour had been hampered by foul weather with the entire first day abandoned because of unseasonal snow.

“The rain helped, I’m from England and I grew up riding in the race,” said Swift. “It puts fear into some riders, but it helped us control the race.”

The seven-day tour continues Tuesday with a 192 km (122 mile) road race from Auburn to Modesto.

Editing by Julian Linden

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