Making a breakaway move that seemed impossible, Toms Skujins rides to his third Tour of California win in stage 3 at Laguna Seca.

With a magician’s touch, Toms Skujins made yet another breakaway victory appear out of thin air at the Amgen Tour of California Tuesday. Stage 3 was the Trek-Segafredo rider’s third career victory in the race — he outfoxed a group of top sprinters on the Laguna Seca Raceway after 197 kilometers of hilly racing.

“The only time I actually dreamed about [winning] was in the last 300 [meters],” Skujins said. “I’m serious, I expected someone to come from the back full-throttle, but I guess it had been a hard day for everyone with the wind and the hard pace.”

Skujins’s erstwhile breakaway companion Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) finished second, while Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) won the sprint from the bunch for third. Sky’s Egan Bernal kept his overall race lead.

Stage 3, top 10

1. Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), in 4:52:47
2. Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon), at 0:03
3. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), at 0:08
4. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), s.t.
5. Egan Bernal (Team Sky), s.t.
6. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), s.t.
7. Alex Howes (EF Education First-Drapac), s.t.
8. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Dimension Data), s.t.
9. Brent Bookwalter (BMC), s.t.
10. Will Barta (Hagens Berman Axeon), s.t.

Top-10 overall

1. Egan Bernal (Team Sky), in 12:09:08
2. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), at :25
3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), at 0:31
4. Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), at 0:40
5. Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), s.t.
6. Daniel Martinez (EF Education First-Drapac), s.t.
7. Mathias Frank (Ag2r La Mondiale), at 0:50
8. Tejay van Garderen (BMC), at 1:00
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo), at 1:11
10. Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors), at 1:14

The route was peppered with four categorized climbs, provoking an early breakaway of three riders: Evan Huffman and his Rally teammate Robin Carpenter, along with Ian Garrison (Hagens Berman Axeon).

As the break ascended the day’s second categorized climb, East Carmel Valley Road Summit, a little after the halfway point, Carpenter came unglued. Rally’s hopes were left in the hands of Huffman, a rider who won two stages in last year’s Tour of California.

Unfortunately, luck was not on Huffman’s side Tuesday. The 28-year-old dropped a chain on the descent and lost touch with Garrison.

For a bit, it seemed that EF Education First-Drapac’s Lawson Craddock would join the action after attacking the peloton on the category 2 climb. However, Craddock was caught as Huffman and Garrison plugged away.

Skujins made his move on Cachagua Road Summit. It seemed unlikely it would stick, but he was joined by Logan Owen (EF Education First-Drapac). They reached the two leaders just before the summit, and in the sprint for KOM points, Garrison was dropped. The 20-year-old was down, but not out.

On the sinuous descent that followed, the deck was again reshuffled. Huffman again lost touch with the break, this time for good. Garrison refused to give up and returned to the front after the sketchy descent.

The break faced one more categorized climb to the finish at Laguna Seca, Laureles Grade Summit, and it appeared to be one climb too many. The peloton had the escapees in sight. Attacks and counterattacks started to fly. All the while, Skujins persevered, just off the front, until he was joined by Bennett.

They crested the brutally steep kicker and entered the race track for one circuit to the finish. Skujins made his move, and with the dusty wind gusting across the road, he put his head down and powered to victory.

“It’s definitely not the easiest run-in to the final, but luckily I knew, I’d raced on Laguna Seca before, I’d done this similar stage before,” Skujins added. “I knew how to play it. I was never feeling really good but once I saw my breakaway compatriot crack a little bit, I knew it was possible.”

To take third, Ewan out-sprinted world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who won the last stage at this finish venue.

The race continues with a decisive 34.7km time trial Wednesday in stage 4 from San Jose to Morgan Hill.

Stage 3 results

General classification