Liquigas-Cannondale's Peter Sagan was just biding his time. Sagan's incredible draft off the side of Team Sky's Ben Swift and HTC's Leigh Howard powered him to victory on Stage 5 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California, after a long day that pushed the riders to their limit.
Sagan won on a day widely expected to be the best opportunity for a breakaway group to take stage victory.
Indeed, attacks came early and often until finally a breakaway group that included Rabobank's Oscar Freire and mountain jersey holder Patrick McCarty created a gap on the peloton in the first major climb.
As the race leaders, Team RadioShack was charged with doing the major work in catching the breakaway. The breakaway group subsequently began falling apart over the final 50 km, as only Freire was able to maintain an advantage.
As Freire battled the crosswinds by himself, his 90 second advantage with 10 km remaining weren't enough and the sprint teams began taking hard pulls at the front of the peloton to catch him.
In particular, HTC began trying to set up their leader Howard, while Sky organized themselves for an attempt at a third stage win with team leader Swift. HTC made the first move in leading out their man, while Swift rushed to the front himself to the right of Howard.
However, it was Sagan who timed his draft perfectly and coasted to victory.
Stage 5's 224 km (139 mile) route from Monterey (Seaside) to Paso Robles featured two Category 4 climbs on Carmel Valley Road and Interlake Road.
After Stage 5, the General Classification remained unchanged as all the top riders, including RadioShack's Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer, stayed in the peloton.
Tomorrow's Stage 6 individual time trial in Solvang will be more crucial for the GC and could see Horner and Leipheimer flop leadership again. Leipheimer is one the strongest time trialist in the field.
Stage 7's Mt. Baldy finishing climb should decide the GC before the Stage 8 final.
To view the Stage 5 results, click here.