Tejay van Garderen retained the lead in the Tour of California - despite crashing ©Getty Images

Luck was on the side of Tejay van Garderen at the Tour of California as he retained his overall lead despite finishing nearly a minute behind the stage four winner, Fabio Jakobsen, after crashing with seven kilometres to go.

The EF Education First rider’s hopes of earning a second victory in this International Cycling Union WorldTour event were revived by a second crash that took place ahead of him just three kilometres from the finish of the 214.5km stage.

The race jury ruled that the second crash, which saw overall second-placed Gianni Moscon of Team Ineos hit the deck, had hindered Van Garderen’s return to the bunch and thus awarded him the same time as the winner.

Van Garderen leads overall by six seconds over Moscon and seven seconds over stage two winner Kasper Asgreen, Jakobsen’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mate.

"The mass crash near the finish of stage 4 was just outside 3km to go," the race jury said in their official ruling.

"The commissaires have decided to treat the crash as such that all riders affected by the incident and the road blockage will receive the field time."

Two late crashes radically shaped the fourth stage of the UCI Tour of California ©Getty Images
Two late crashes radically shaped the fourth stage of the UCI Tour of California ©Getty Images

Van Garderen, who had finished the race on the bike of Australian team-mate Lachlan Morton and finished with blood running down his leg, said:

"When they told me I was back in yellow, I was surprised.

 "I mean, I understand, because we were chasing back and I thought we would have gotten back had that other crash not impeded us.

“I just thought it was bad luck, but I guess they decided to give us the time from the crash because we were just about to get back on.

“I have to applaud their decision.

“Sometimes the cards fall your way, sometimes they don't."