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Tough time trial route to test Tour of California contenders

By:
Pat Malach
Published:
May 17, 2013, 15:47 BST,
Updated:
May 17, 2013, 18:17 BST
Edition:
Third Edition Cycling News, Friday, May 17, 2013
Race:
Tour of California
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) moved into second overall

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) moved into second overall

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Jamis-Hagens Berman's Carson Miller first to start at 1pm PDT

Following some major shake ups in the general classification during a windswept stage 5 finale, the overall contenders at the Amgen Tour of California will have another day to stake their claim for the final leader's jersey during Friday's stage 6 individual time trial in San Jose.

But the 31.6km course is no ordinary affair. The first 90 percent uses the same time trial route as when the race visited San Jose in 2006, but this time it has a vicious sting in the tail – the 2.7km, 290 meter climb up Metcalf Road, averaging a leg-sapping 10.6 percent.

The first 29km are rolling or flat before the riders hit the climb. Considering that the 12km lead-up to the base of the climb will most likely be ridden into a tough headwind, aerodynamics will be as important as ever. But an aerodynamic bike and riding position aren't ideal for climbing fast, especially on a steep slope. Look for the top riders to make some very tough decisions, which might include a bike change, to get a maximum result.

Current overall leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC), who took over the race lead Thursday from Jamis-Hagens Berman's Janier Acevedo, said he was hesitant to give away his own strategy for the unique race against the clock, but he did say that the route requires a lot of thinking rather than just going out and riding hard.

"It's going to be a battle of equipment, gearing and whether or not you're going to take a bike change or if you're going to sacrifice weight for aerodynamics" van Garderen said. "It's going to be kind of a lab experiment and a science test a little bit."

The time trial is enough of a "science test" for UnitedHealthcare to bring in some outside experts to help determine what will be the best plan of attack for the Pro Continental team's riders, including Phil Deignan, who currently sits fifth overall. Like van Garderen, UnitedHealthcare team general manager and director Mike Tamayo was holding his cards close to his chest.

"I can tell you that we worked with the Faster wind tunnel, and they put together – not just their own engineer – but they reached out to a couple of folks that are way smarter than I am," Tamayo told Cyclingnews on Thursday. "We've had engineers that have been working out what the time savings would be for swapping a time trial bike and a road bike – the percentage difference and whether it would be worth it or not.

"I won't disclose that information for you because we spent a lot of money trying to get that," Tamayo said. "But I will tell you that we've spent a lot of time thinking about what we should do tomorrow."

Another issue for teams to consider when weighing the option of a bike switch is the rule banning team cars from passing a rider in the event. When a rider needs a new bike in a road race, the team car blasts ahead and prepares the bike for when the rider arrives – a relatively efficient operation.

But the time trial rule prohibiting a support vehicle from passing the rider means mechanics must wait until the rider stops in front of them before hopping out of the car, removing the bike from the rack and getting it under the rider. Bontrager director Axel Merckx said that maneuver could take as much as 30-45 seconds, as well as disrupting the rider's rhythm.

Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies' Chad Haga, winner of the Redlands Bicycle Classic opening time trial earlier this season and currently sitting ninth overall in California, agreed with Merckx's assessment.

"I think it will just be the full time trial set-up," Haga said. "Take the weight penalty on the climb and hope that the aero benefits on the rest of the course make up for it."

No matter the equipment choices, the race promises to be a nail-biter that could once again dramatically shift the top of the general classification. Van Garderen currently leads Saxo-Tinkoff's Mick Rogers, who won the overall here in 2010, by just 42 seconds. Acevedo is currently third, 50 seconds in arrears. RadioShack-Leopard's Matthew Busche is fourth after Thursday's stage, trailing van Garderen by 1:04. Deignan is 1:17 back.

Rogers is a three-time world champion in the discipline and appears to be back on form after several protracted battles with mononucleosis. Acevedo, a pure climber from Colombia, recently finished ninth in the Tour of the Gila time trial, coming in more than 37 seconds off the winning mark. Busche, who exploited Thursday's hectic finish to move up four spots in the overall, rides well in the discipline and said he hopes to move onto the overall podium Friday.

"Hopefully I can keep my position or move up a spot or two," Busche said. "I definitely am in a better position now, and if I have a good time trial, then on Diablo I can be a bit more defensive and conserve my spot, which will hopefully be on the podium."

With the GC battle now set on high, other riders who are further down in the overall will simply be looking for a stage win. Lieuwe Westra, the Vancansoleil-DCM rider who won the first stage with a late move off the front, told Cyclingnews the course suits him well and he'll be going all out for the stage win.

"I think it's a good parcours for me," said Westra, the current Dutch time trial champion. "It's flat, a little bit uphill, downhill and it ends with a climb. I think it's good. Tomorrow we will see the parcours, but when I look in the book I see it's perfect for me. So we'll see. The condition is good. So I hope to post a good result tomorrow."

One rider who has seen the time trial course will be competing in the women's race just before the men takeoff at 1 p.m. Amber Neben, the 2008 world champion and a two-time Olympian who finished 7th in the London time trial, said the route is a "real" test against the clock.

"I did see the TT course a couple of days ago," Neben said during the pre-race press conference at the beginning of the week. "It's hard. The finish is brutal, and that climb at the end is definitely going to change the finish, for sure."

Tour of California stage 6 - Men's start times (PDT)
1 Carson Miller (USA) Jamis-Hagens Berman 13:00:00  
2 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp 13:01:00  
3 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 13:02:00  
4 Wesley Kreder (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 13:03:00  
5 Jason McCartney (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 13:04:00  
6 Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 13:05:00  
7 James Driscoll (USA) Jamis-Hagens Berman 13:06:00  
8 James Oram (NZl) Bontrager Cycling Team 13:07:00  
9 Marsh Cooper (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 13:08:00  
10 Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 13:09:00  
11 Scott Zwizanski (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 13:10:00  
12 Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 13:11:00  
13 Thomas Soladay (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 13:12:00  
14 Wu Kin San (HKg) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 13:13:00  
15 Frank Kevin Pipp (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 13:14:00  
16 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 13:15:00  
17 Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura 13:16:00  
18 Jacobe Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 13:17:00  
19 Shawn Milne (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 13:18:00  
20 Tyler Wren (USA) Jamis-Hagens Berman 13:19:00  
21 Jesse Anthony (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 13:20:00  
22 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 13:21:00  
23 Timothy Duggan (USA) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13:22:00  
24 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team 13:23:00  
25 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale Pro Cycling 13:24:00  
26 Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp-Endura 13:25:00  
27 Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 13:26:00  
28 Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 13:27:00  
29 Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 13:28:00  
30 Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 13:29:00  
31 David Williams (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 13:30:00  
32 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling 13:31:00  
33 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13:32:00  
34 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 13:33:00  
35 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Cannondale Pro Cycling 13:34:00  
36 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 13:35:00  
37 Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 13:36:00  
38 Ryan Eastman (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 13:37:00  
39 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling 13:38:00  
40 Matt Brammeier (Irl) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 13:39:00  
41 Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp-Endura 13:40:00  
42 Feng Chun Kai (Tpe) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 13:41:00  
43 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 13:42:00  
44 Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13:43:00  
45 James Stemper (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 13:44:00  
46 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 13:45:00  
47 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 13:46:00  
48 Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team 13:47:00  
49 Ken Hanson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 13:48:00  
50 Antoine Duchesne (Can) Bontrager Cycling Team 13:49:00  
51 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 13:50:00  
52 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp 13:51:00  
53 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 13:52:00  
54 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Sharp 13:53:00  
55 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Jamis-Hagens Berman 13:54:00  
56 Carter Jones (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 13:55:00  
57 Bob Jungels (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 13:56:00  
58 Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13:57:00  
59 Caleb Fairly (USA) Garmin-Sharp 13:58:00  
60 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 13:59:00  
61 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 14:00:00  
62 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 14:01:00  
63 Chris Butler (USA) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 14:02:00  
64 Michael Torckler (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling 14:03:00  
65 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp 14:04:00  
66 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 14:05:00  
67 Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 14:06:00  
68 José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura 14:07:00  
69 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 14:08:00  
70 Nathan Brown (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 14:09:00  
71 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 14:10:00  
72 Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 14:11:00  
73 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 14:12:00  
74 Ryan Roth (Can) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 14:13:00  
75 Max Jenkins (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 14:14:00  
76 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Cycling Team 14:15:00  
77 Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) Jamis-Hagens Berman 14:16:00  
78 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 14:17:00  
79 Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura 14:18:00  
80 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 14:19:00  
81 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard 14:20:00  
82 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 14:21:00  
83 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 14:22:00  
84 Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 14:23:00  
85 Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin-Sharp 14:24:00  
86 Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling 14:25:00  
87 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 14:26:00  
88 Alexander Candelario (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 14:27:00  
89 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team 14:28:00  
90 Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 14:29:00  
91 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 14:30:00  
92 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura 14:31:00  
93 Chad Beyer (USA) Champion System Pro Cycling Team 14:32:00  
94 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard 14:33:00  
95 Tanner Putt (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 14:34:00  
96 Brian Vandborg (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling 14:35:00  
97 David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura 14:36:00  
98 Edward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 14:37:00  
99 Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard 14:38:00  
100 Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura 14:39:00  
101 Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 14:40:00  
102 Nathaniel English (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 14:41:00  
103 Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 14:42:00  
104 Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team 14:44:00  
105 Chad Haga (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 14:46:00  
106 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda 14:48:00  
107 Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 14:50:00  
108 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 14:52:00  
109 Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 14:54:00  
110 Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard 14:56:00  
111 Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman 14:58:00  
112 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 15:00:00  
113 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 15:02:00  

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