Peter Sagan rules the CX GC so far. Via Flickr by smthcriminal29.

by Josh Liberles

Nowhere was the prevalence of cyclocrossers at the top end of pro road cycling more apparent than during stage 4 of the Tour of California. The day’s decisive four-man breakaway contained three ‘crossers – Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly on the road, for the real racing), Rob Britton (Bissell roadie, frequent ‘cross dabbler) and current Danish national and former world champ Lars Boom (Rabobank all the way around). A three-man chase group even included Davide Frattini (Team Type 1), who races an extensive domestic ‘cross calendar.

Lucas Euser (SpiderTech-Planet Energy) relayed a great quote from Belgian national champ and cycling superstar Tom Boonen, who was obviously impressed by Boom’s resiliency and refusal to call it quits in his eventually unsuccessful bid to win the stage: “Lars Boom should get a medal for today, a medal that says, ‘go back to cyclocross.'” Euser went on to clarify, “Boonen said that because Boom is an animal. We all have mad respect for him. He personally made an entire peloton suffer all day long.”

US national champ Tim Johnson, who’s been quick to comment via Twitter on online cycling trends since he’s been laid up with an ankle injury, is happy to not have to follow Boom’s wheel off road. “Uh, no thanks. You keep him.” Speaking of Johnson, the UnitedHealthcare captain is keeping busy by providing some race analysis for and will also be answering your questions via Cyclocross Magazine‘s new “Ask A Pro” column, launching this weekend.

Before stage 4 even got started, Powers had Tweeted that Boom was killing all challengers in the ‘cross GC, but he was clearly overlooking a dark horse challenger for the actual (let alone CX) overall podium, Peter Sagan. Although Stage 5 didn’t feature the same prevalence of ‘cross riders sticking it to the peloton off the front, 20 year-old Slovakian phenom Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) took the stage win in impressive fashion in front of overall GC leaders Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions). Sagan, lest you forget, was the runner up in the 2008 Junior World Cyclocross Championships in Treviso, Italy and took home the rainbow stripes in the MTB World Championships the same year. He currently sits in fourth overall in the Tour of California GC.

So, here’s our stab at a Cyclocross GC for the Tour of California, through Stage 5. It’s a fine line, but we’re going to exclude guys like Armstrong, who famously ” ‘crossed” through a field in the 2002 Tour de France and raced CrossVegas a couple of years back, as well as his teammate Chris Horner, who dabbled in ‘cross for a bit. Did we miss someone in our roundup? Drop a comment below!

Tour of California Overall Cyclocross GC – through Stage 5
1 (4) Peter Sagan Liquigas-Doimo at 00:00:15
2 (19) Christopher Jones Team Type 1 at 00:02:01
3 (35) Ben Jacques-Maynes Bissell Pro Cycling at 00:14:29
4 (51) Lars Boom Rabobank Cycling Team at 00:31:32
5 (58) Tejay Van Garderen HTC-Columbia at 00:36:29
6 (69) Robert Britton Bissell Pro Cycling at 00:45:51
7 (73) Davide Frattini Team Type 1 at 00:46:59
8 (91) Jeremy Powers Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda at 00:59:25
9 (104) Andy Jacques-Maynes Bissell Pro Cycling at 01:01:32
Sprint Points
1 (1) Peter Sagan Liquigas-Doimo 34 points
2 (7) Lars Boom Rabobank Cycling Team 20 points
3 (21) Jeremy Powers Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda 6 points
1 (4) Davide Frattini Team Type 1 20 points
2 (6) Robert Britton Bissell Pro Cycling 11 points
3 (12) Andy Jacques-Maynes Bissell Pro Cycling 9 points