MORRO BAY, Calif. (AP) — Tejay van Garderen's team kept everything under control for nearly six hours in the fourth stage of the Tour of California, calmly protecting the overall leader's jersey on a hilly ride along the coast.
Everything went wrong over the final 5 miles.
Van Garderen's chain snapped and sent him sprawling to the tarmac, and his EF Education First team was unable to get him back to the charging peloton. And while Fabio Jakobsen was able to survive a bunch sprint to win the stage, the real drama played out behind as van Garderen tried to limit his losses.
By the time he crossed the finish line, the American rider's six-second lead had turned into a 47-second deficit to Kasper Asgreen, who slipped on the provisional yellow jersey in Morro Bay.
Asgreen was listed at nine seconds over Tadeg Pogacar and 15 on Maximilian Schachmann, while van Garderen plummeted to 13th place. Gianni Moscon had just as much trouble and dropped from second to 15th, a full minute behind the overall leader with three stages left in the weeklong race to Pasadena.
The win by Jakobsen was the third straight — all by different riders — for the Deceuninck Quick-Step team this week. Jasper Philipsen was second to give embattled UAE Team Emirates something positive, while three-time world champion Peter Sagan was third.
Emirates pressed on Wednesday without climbing specialist Kristijan Durasek, who was implicated in an Austrian investigation into doping earlier in the day. The 31-year-old Durasek is accused of using a "prohibited method" during the 2017 season, the sixth cyclist to be ensnared in the scandal.
He has been provisionally suspended by the UCI, the sport's world governing body, and the team has sent him back to Europe to cooperate with the far-reaching investigation.
Back in California, van Garderen had steered clear of trouble while the peloton brought back the day's early breakaway. But his chain snapped with about 5 miles to go, sending the 2013 race winner to the pavement. His teammate, Lachlan Morton, was there to give van Garderen his bike, and several more teammates dropped back in a desperate attempt to pace van Garderen back to the field.
Then he inexplicably missed a hard right-hand corner with a couple miles to go, and a crash just as van Garderen was catching the field slowed him down again, dashing his hopes of holding onto his lead.
The fifth stage Thursday is a hilly, 138-mile affair that takes the peloton from Pismo Beach to the beach town of Ventura. The stage includes a short, steep climb near the finish that could prove crucial for riders trying to make up ground on van Garderen in the overall standings.
"It's going to be a long stage. For sure there will be climbs again, I don't know how many. It will be six hours," Jakobsen said. "I hope tomorrow the sun shines again."
The three-stage women's Tour of California also gets going with an out-and-back stage centered on Ventura. American climber Katie Hall is back to defend her overall title, but the race's status part of the Women's WorldTour means the field is loaded with more big names than ever before.
Among them are Hall's teammate, Anna Van der Breggen, a stout Trek-Segafredo team headed by former world champion Lizzie Deignan, and climber Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio of Team CCC-Liv.