An all-day, six-man break including HTC-Columbia's uber-leadout-man Mark Renshaw almost made it but was swallowed by the rampaging yellow jersey group with 5 km to go.
Despite a characteristic 500m lone attempt by Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank), it was left to the GC leader Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) to battle it out with second-place Mick Rogers (HTC-Columbia). 20 year old Peter Sagan jumped them both on the line but Rogers' 2nd place on the stage secured him the yellow jersey with exactly the same time but entitled to the top spot due to the count-back on stage places.
The riders hardly had a chance to leave Visalia on the way to complete 122 hilly miles to Bakersfield when Lance Armstrong and others where involved in a tumble on a gravel section and although both he and Saxo bank's Stuart O'Grady initially chased, soon they were back in the cars, Armstrong with blood pouring from a cut under his left eye, a bloodied elbow and torn jersey.
However, while the race was still on he was tweeting from the hospital, "I'm alive. Fell face first and banged elbow pretty good. Xrays on the elbow were neg. Extremely disappointed not to be able 2 continue."
Tour of California Stage 5 brief result
1. Peter Sagan (Liquigas)
2. Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)
3. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions)
4. Chris Horner (RadioShack)
Tour of California 2010 overall after stage 5
1. Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)
2. Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) s.t.
3. Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) at 10s
4. Peter Sagan (Liquigas) at 15s