BAKERSFIELD (CBS / AP) – Dave Zabriskie won the individual time trial in hot and breezy conditions Thursday to take the Tour of California overall lead in with three stages left.
Zabriskie, the 33-year-old Garmin-Barracuda rider from Salt Lake City, finished the 18.4-mile flat course in 35 minutes, 59 seconds at an average speed of 30.77 mph.
Germany’s Jens Voigt, racing for RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, was second in the fifth stage, 23 seconds back.
Tejay Van Garderen of Tacoma, Wash., and Garmin-Barracuda finished third in the stage to move into second overall — 34 seconds back.
“It’s getting close to time then need make a choice for the Olympic team and I wanted to have a good performance,” said Zabriskie, the six-time national time trial titlist who finished second in the Tour of California in 2010.
The United States will only have one discretionary selection for the time trial in the London Summer Olympics.
As temperatures reached into the mid-90s for the second straight day, Zabriskie was the 81st rider in the field of 118 on the course and had to wait about an hour to see if his time held up.
“I came out here in February and videotaped the course,” Zabriskie said. “I had a few spots where I wanted to soft pedal but maintain speed. It sounds weird, but you can do it. The turnaround was one of those spots. This was a really good course for me.”
Zabriskie led the Tour de France for three days in 2005 after beating Lance Armstrong by 2 seconds in the opening time trial.
“It’s nice be in the leader’s jersey,” said Zabriskie, who has two teammates in the top 10. “Knowing what kind of riders they are, I think we are in a pretty good position.”
Robert Gesink of the Netherlands was third overall, trailing by 39 seconds.
Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, the Liquigas-Canondale rider who swept the first four stages, finished 52nd in the stage, nearly 3 ½ minutes behind Zabriskie.
Chris Horner of RadioShack-Nissan and Bend, Ore., was 32nd overall, trailing Zabriskie by 2:50.
Levi Leipheimer, the Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider from Santa Rosa who won the race three straight years beginning in 2007, was 16th overall — 1:44 back.
Kristin Armstrong won the women’s individual time trial in 39:59.28. From Boise, Idaho, and racing for Exergy TWENTY12, she won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics.
The eight-day, 735-mile race continues Friday with the 115.7-mile Palmdale to Big Bear Lake road race, the first of two successive mountain stages.
The seventh annual race concludes Sunday with a 42.6-mile road stage from Beverly Hills to Los Angeles.
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