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Hushovd claims California stage win

  • Story Highlights
  • Norway's Thor Hushovd sprints to victory in third stage of Tour of California
  • Overall leader Levi Leipheimer crashes after clipping Lance Armstrong's wheel
  • Two-time defending champion Leipheimer still leads Michael Rogers by 24 seconds
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(CNN) -- Norway's Thor Hushovd won an incident-packed third stage of the Tour of California with Levi Leipheimer retaining his overall lead despite crashing after clipping the wheel of Astana teammate Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong was involved in a crash for the second successive day in California.

Hushovd won the race to the line in Modesto to win the third stage.

The 162 kilometer stage from San Jose to Modesto was again run off in rain and wind, with organizers cutting its length due to the conditions.

Leipheimer, who has a 24 second lead in the overall classification, came to grief just after the 60 kilometer mark as he ran into Armstrong's wheel from behind.

"That was my fault; I just looked down for one second and it was windy and everybody moved left and right and next thing I know there was a touch of a wheel," Leipheimer told the official Web site

"It hurts but it happens. I didn't break anything. I've done it before; it's not big deal."

Amstrong, who is riding strongly in the second competitive outing of his comeback, did not fall off and remains 30 seconds adrift in fourth place overall.

It is the second straight day he has survived a crash after being involved in a pile up on the second stage which brought down 15 riders.

Despite challenging terrain, including a first category climb, the stage finish was contested by specialist sprinters with Cervelo's Hushovd holding off three-time world champion Oscar Freire and Australia's Mark Renshaw.

Team Columbia's Mark Cavendish, winner of two stages of the recent Tour of Qatar, finished fifth.

Leipheimer will continue his bid for a third straight win in the Tour of California in Wednesday's fourth stage from Merced to Clovis, the 185.7 kilometer test taking in climbs in the Sierra Mountains.

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