Cavendish confirmed his reputation as the fastest man around
Mark Cavendish secured his second consecutive stage win in the Tour of California as he once again beat Belgian's Tom Boonen in a sprint.
After just edging Boonen on Thursday, Cavendish won stage five by a bike length as he raced himself to the line.
Cavendish thought he could see Boonen's shadow over his shoulder "but when I took a look at the video, I saw I was sprinting my shadow," he said.
Levi Leipheimer retains the overall lead with Lance Armstrong in fourth.
Australian Michael Rogers and American David Zabriskie separate the two Astana riders in the overall standings.
The Tour of California is seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong's second race since he launched his comeback after coming out of retirement.
He will be among the favourites for Friday's stage, which is a 15-mile individual time trial in Solvang.
Cavendish remains over 29 minutes off Leipheimer in the overall standings but as a sprinter the Isle of Man rider is only interested in stage victories and Wednesday went perfectly to plan.
"This was the day that I was planning on winning this year," he said after finishing in five hours, seven minutes and 28 seconds.
"It was a hard day; harder than expected. It seems like they've replicated the Tour de France with the speed. It has been incredibly hard," he said.
After just seven of the 134 miles, Jelly Belly's Matthew Crane led a six-man breakaway that established an eight-minute advantage over the chasing pack by the midway point in the stage.
But they were gradually reeled in with New Zealand's Glen Chadwick the final rider to be absorbed back into the pack just three miles from the line.
Cavendish's team-mates guided their man to the front and his subsequent sprint for home proved decisive.
Stage Five Results:
1. CAVENDISH Mark (GB) Columbia Highroad 05.07'28"
2. BOONEN Tom (Bel) Quickstep 05.07'28"
3. HORRILLO MUNOZ Pedro (Spa) Rabobank 05.07'28"
4. CHICCHI Francesco (Ita) Liquigas 05.07'28"
5. HUSHOVD Thor (Nor) Cervelo TestTeam 05.07'28"
6. HAEDO Lucas Sebastian (Arg) Colavita/Sutter Homes 05.07'28"
7. RODRIGUEZ Freddy (US) Rock Racing 05.07'28"
8. ELMIGER Martin (Swi) AG2R - Le Mondiale 05.07'28"
9. SULZBERGER Bernard (Aus) Fly V Australia 05.07'28"
10. MENZIES Karl (Aus) Ouch Pro Cycling 05.07'28"
1. LEIPHEIMER Levi (US) Astana 23.41'20"
2. ROGERS Michael (Aus) Team Columbia Highroad +00.00'24"
3. ZABRISKIE David (US) Garmin-Slipstream +00.00'28"
4. ARMSTRONG Lance (US) Asatana +00.00'30"
5. HORNER Christopher (US) Astana +00.00'34"
6. BRAJKOVIC Janez (Slo) Astana +00.00'38"
7. LVKVIST Thomas (Swe) Columbia Highroad +00.00'38"
8. RUBIERA VIGIL Jos Luis (Spa) Astana +00.00'38"
9. NIBALI Vincenzo (Ita) Liquigas +00.00'38"
10. GESINK Robert (Ned) Rabobank +00.00'39"