Tadej Pogacar (R, pictured September 2016) became the youngest winner of the United States' biggest stage race

Los Angeles (AFP) - Tadej Pogacar won the Tour of California on Saturday, finishing safely in the pack as Cees Bol crossed the line first in a chaotic finish to the seventh and final stage.

Pogacar, the 20-year-old Slovenian who rides for UAE Team Emirates, became the youngest winner of the United States’ biggest stage race.

He had seized the overall race lead on Friday, when he snatched victory in the final few meters of the sixth stage – swooping past Colombia’s Sergio Higuita on the final bend to finish first at the summit of Mount Baldy.

Pogacar captured the overall victory ahead of Higuita (Education First) and Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Kasper Asgreen of Denmark.

Asgreen gave Pogacar cause for concern when he joined a breakaway 15 kilometers from the finish and winning a bonus sprint.

But UAE, assisted by Sunweb, reeled in the break just before the start of the last lap of the finishing circuit.

Sunweb’s Bol navigated a messy finish that included a mid-peloton crash to beat Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Bora).

“It was really tough stage once again,” Pogacar said. “On the climb EF was really making pace and caused all my riders to drop.

“I’m lucky we had one guy in the breakaway that helped a lot. After the attack of Asgreen I knew that my team is coming from behind with full gas.”