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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 7 of the Amgen Tour of California. Today, racers are facing the only time trial stage in the 8-day Tour, a 21 mile (33.6km) race of truth in downtown Los Angeles.
The first rider sets off at 1:00 pm local (Pacific) time, and we'll be starting our live coverage just prior to the race's start.
It's a warm and sunny day today in Los Angeles with a bit of a breeze. Crosswinds may prove to be a factor in the time trial this afternoon.
The riders will cover two laps of a 10.5-mile circuit which goes past many of the city's landmarks. Starting at Figueroa Street and 12th Street, the riders will first head south, passing by the Los Angeles Convention Center and the University of Southern California and Exposition Park, before circling around the LA Coliseum and heading back north.
The second half of the course will feature two short steep climbs, and the riders will probably not notice when they pass by the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and the Los Angeles City Hall.
Hitting the northernmost point of the course at the intersection of Temple Street and Grand Avenue, the riders will then head back south to the finish line at Chick Hearn Court and LA LIVE, an entertainment complex containing concert halls, theatres, museums, and restaurants.
The first 19 riders off today will start with one-minute time gaps while the remainder of the riders will set off two minutes apart, in reverse general classification order (with a few exceptions as the start order is adjusted slightly to ensure that teammates do not start back-to-back).
The first ten riders off today are: Javier Megias Leal (Team Type 1), Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team), Thomas Leezer (Rabobank Cycling Team), Fabian Cancellara (Team Saxo Bank), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank Cycling Team), Bernhard Eisel (Team HTC-Columbia), Bruno Langlois (SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy), Andreas Stauff (Quick Step), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step).
And right away, a heavy hitter is one of the first men to leave the start house: reigning time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank). The 29-year-old Swiss has had a stellar spring Classics campaign, soloing to victory in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Cancellara has also won E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Harelbeke and the Tour of Oman, in which he finished second to Edvald Boasson Hagen in the time trial stage.
And the first rider is off!
Cyclingnews Kirsten Frattini reports that Fabian Cancellara is wearing his world time trial champion skinsuit and that there's a frenzy of photographers around him. Cancellara, however, looks really relaxed.
While yesterday's epic stage to Big Bear Lake was probably the most difficult day of racing in the Amgen Tour of California's five year history, there's still quite a tight cluster of riders together atop general classification.
Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) leads general classification by four seconds over David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) and nine seconds ahead of race revelation Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo). The top 14 riders are only separated by 35 seconds, and perhaps today's time trial will open up large gaps atop GC, but we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?
Here's the top 15 of general classification entering today's stage:
1 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia 29:04:03
2 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:04
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:09
4 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:00:14
5 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis 0:00:29
6 Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis 0:00:32
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions 0:00:35
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Radioshack
9 Christopher Horner (USA) Team Radioshack
10 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions
11 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Transitions
12 Phil Zajicek (USA) Fly V Australia
13 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank
14 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team
15 Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1 0:01:52
Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) is out on the course.
Yesterday's stage to Big Bear Lake dramatically reduced the field, with 29 riders removed from the race.
11 riders finished outside the time cut, 17 abandoned, and one did not start.
Eighty six riders finished the stage yesterday, but only 84 will start today. Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team) crashed yesterday, but finished the stage. However, the
26-year-old German is suspected to have fractured the radius in his right arm and has withdrawn from the race.
Additionally, Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly) finished the stage yesterday but has been disqualified for excessive drafting of his team car. The Jelly Belly team filed an appeal to have Friedman reinstated, but their appeal was denied today.
Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) is out on the course.
He had a bad crash earlier in the week where he went over the edge on Trinity Rd and had to climb back up the embankment.
And while we've mentioned the Bissell team, Cyclingnews' own Laura Weislo would like to thank the Bissell team's chiropractor Brad Foster for helping alleviate some back pain this morning.
He used the same active release techniques he uses on the riders before they TT - he says it increases lung capacity by 15% by lengthening the muscles connected to the rib cage.
Stage races are tough on everybody, even if you're not riding!
Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) has dominated the time trial stage at the Amgen Tour of California, winning the past three years in a row en route to general classification victories each year. This year, however, the time trial has been moved from its previous location in Solvang to downtown Los Angeles.
Will the change of venue end Leipheimer's California time trial winning streak? There's quite a collection of time trial talent assembled here...read Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini's take on what's on tap for the time trial today.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) was one of the riders who abandoned yesterday and the Belgian champion drew a big crowd at the Quick Step team bus this morning. He's flying back to Belgum today.
Patrick Lefevere said Boonen only has road rash but that every time he crashes he has problems with his back. He will get some physiotherapy back home to get ready for Tour de Suisse. He expects Boonen to be back to full strength by the Tour.
Steven Cozza (Garmin-Transitions) is on course, he has quite a few fans here in California touting moustaches in his honor and is support for Cozza's Race for Kids club.
Javier Megias Leal (Team Type 1), today's first rider off, is now 1km away from finishing his first of two circuits.
But wait, Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank), the fourth rider off today, is the first through the the first time check at the end of the first circuit! He's passed the first three riders and is absolutely flying!
Cancellara rode the opening 10.5 miles in 21:32.96
Thomas Leezer (Rabobank) is the second rider through the check point at the end of lap one and stops the clock in 23:13.60. He has passed the two riders who started in front of him, Hunt and Leal.
Bernhard Eisel (Team HTC-Columbia) has come through his opening lap in 22:51 while Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo) stopped the clock for 22:24 for his opening lap.
Kevin Hulsmans (Quick Step) is completing his first 10.5 mile lap.
Bradley White (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis) clocks 22:19.04 for his first lap, the second fastest so far behind Cancellara.
Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) is through his opening lap in 22:48.42
Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) has come through the intermediate split faster than Cancellara! He records a 21:28.9 and knocks 4 seconds off Cancellara's split.
Matti Breschel (Team Saxo Bank) is about to start while Nikolas Maes (Quick Step) records a split time of 23:05
And we have our first finisher of the day. Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo Test Team) records 44:49 for the 21 mile course.
Hot on his heals is Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) who stops the clock in 43:26.
The first man out today, Javier Megias Leal (Team Type 1), has finished in 46:52.6
Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini spoke to Rolf Aldag, Team HTC-Columbia manager, this morning about race leader Michael Rogers: "Today is all or nothing. Anything can happen in the time trial. It's about having the best day on the bike and he is confident. He can do anything in cycling right now. He can accelerate out of the corners today in the time trial and he can finish fast.
"Zabriskie is a great highlight this week, but we are aware of the world-class riders here and we are going to try out best."
Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team) is about to head out on the course, while Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Columbia) has finished.
Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) has finished in the second fastest time thus far: 44:48.36
Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies) comes through the first lap split in 22:16. He's a good time trialist and finished fourth in last year's US professional time trial championships in Greenville, SC.
Kelly Benefit Strategies was hit particularly hard yesterday, losing five riders. Reid Mumford and Scott Zwizanski are the only riders remaining and both are very good against the clock.
Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas-Doimo) just rolled through for his first lap split. He didn't look like he's gunning for the win today.
Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) is approaching the finish line and has caught four riders.
He clocks a 42:53.88 for a new best time!
Dominique Rollin just rolled through his first lap in the slowest time so far today: 27 minutes. It's an easy day for the Cervelo TestTeam sprinter but he better make sure he makes the 25% time cut today.
Dmitriy Muravyev (Team Radioshack) is in the top 10 for his intermediate split while Simon Zahner (BMC Racing Team) has set the 3rd fastest intermediate split thus far.
Peter Latham (Bissell) has just finished and has cracked the top-10.
Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) has gone 16th fastest through the first time split.
Davide Frattini (Team Type 1) is coming through to the finish. He had a hard day yesterday even though he was in the autobus. There isn't anything easy about 135 miles on the bike even without 14,000 feet of climbing.
Frattini's Team Type 1 teammate Thomas Rabou, however, had a stellar day yesterday and took back the mountains classification lead.
Plenty of spectators are out on the course right now in downtown Los Angeles. They're about 6 deep near the last turn.
Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) has recorded the 3rd best intermediate split.
Correction, Van Ulden has recorded the 3rd fastest finishing time and according to our calculations he's the first rider to record a faster time on his second lap.
Former time trial world champion Bert Grabsch (HTC-Columbia) is approaching his first split and he stops the clock in 21:28! New best time for the 10.5 mile intermediate checkpoint.
Rob Britton (Bissell) came through 13th best at the finish, but must have had a problem on the course as he came through on his regular road bike.
Lars Boom is about to complete his first circuit and he records a 21:50.45, fifth fastest split thus far.
Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies) came through for 7th fastest time. Nice job for the Continental contingent.
Jason McCartney (Team Radioshack) will be the next rider to start.
Santaromita (Liquigas-Doimo) is through in 46+ minutes, Darren Lill (Fly V Australia) just went past for his first lap. Neither rider was drilling it.
Rubiera (RadioShack) just came past for lap 1 and his wound on the left knee is still seeping a bit through the bandages from his crash in Modesto.
Dmitriy Muravyev (Team Radioshack) has finished in 10th with a 45:23.3 while Simon Zahner (BMC Racing Team) goes 6th fastest with 44:48.6
Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini spoke with Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) after his ride of 44:43.1 which currently is good for fifth place.
The Bissell rider said the course was windy and got windier on the second lap. While he like the circuit he didn't like the idea of doing laps because he ran into quite a bit of traffic at the close of his second lap.
Wow, Robbie Hunter (Garmin-Transitions) has just recorded the fastest finishing time of 42:17.4!
Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) is getting ready to start. He won a bronze medal at last year's US professional time trial championship so expect a good ride from him today.
Hmmm...it seems that Hunter's time may be incorrect. We're waiting for verification about that.
In the meantime, Christopher Baldwin (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis) has come through his first time check.
Tejay Van Garderen (Team HTC-Columbia) is motoring along out on the course.
Lars Boom (Rabobank), a former U23 world time trial champion, is coming in for his finish and slots in with the 5th fastest time.
Tejay Van Garderen (Team HTC-Columbia) just clipped some cones while flying around a turn. It momentarily disrupted his rhythm, but he's back up to speed and really flying.
It seems that Robbie Hunter clocked the third fastest time. There was an error with his start time which created the erroneous finishing time which looked like he clocked best time. We'll have our times adjusted accordingly in a moment. Grabsch leads, with Tjallingii in second.
Jakob Fuglsang (Saxo Bank) rolls down the start ramp.
Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) received a raucous send off from the start house. He's definitely a popular rider where ever he goes.
Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini spoke to Bjarne Riis about Cancellara's ride today: "I'm not surprised with Cancellara's time. There was no pressure on him to do a really good time trial. He came here after recovery from the Classics and this is the first part of his training for the Tour de France."
Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions) is out on the course. He's currently second overall to Peter Sagan (Liquigas) in the young rider competition and Jonathan Vaughters told us that he's not one to be underestimated today in the time trial. Stetina won the US U23 time trial championship last year and is very good against the clock.
Matt Wilson (Garmin-Transitions) just finished his time trial.
Garmin-Transitions is the only squad which still has its full contingent of 8 riders.
Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini spoke with Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis director Mike Tamayo about Rory Sutherland: "The morale on the team is incredible right now. We've got five guys left standing. Rory will try to move up best he can higher in GC. He has the legs. He spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel and training on his time trial bike.
"This is the first time to race the time trial at this level, although he was close at the Tourof the Gila time trial. The course is perfect for him."
Sutherland will be starting in a couple of minutes.
Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies) is coming in for his finish.
Fourth fastest for Zwizanski.
Only five riders left to start today: Rory Sutherland (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis), Levi Leipheimer (Team Radioshack), Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo), David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions), Michael Rogers (Team HTC-Columbia)
Our Kirsten Frattini spoke to Team Type 1's Javier Megias Leal, the first rider to start today: "The course is totally flat and really windy. You need a lot of power on it. This is a typical ProTour time trial minus all the ProTour riders. This time trial is so flat and fast that it won't make a big gap among the leaders."
Megias Leal comes to Team Type 1 from the ProTour as he rode for Footon-Servetto last season.
Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) is out on the course.
Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) has the new fastest intermediate split, stopping the clock in 20:52.0
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) is in the start house. The 20-year-old Slovakian leads both the points classification and young rider classification. It will be quite a battle between Sagan and Stetina for the young rider classification as they're separated by only 26 seconds.
Captain America, reigning US time trial champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions), is in the start house. The Los Angeles resident is only four seconds behind Michael Rogers on GC and looks very focussed.
Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) has recorded the 2nd fastest split time. The powerful German rolled through in 21:28.1
Three-time time trial world champion and Amgen Tour of California race leader Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) has started his race, the last rider to leave the start house today.
It's a bit confusing out on the course as riders on first and second laps mix together. Zabriskie, on his first lap, has just passed Voigt, on his second lap.
Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) put in a stellar ride and sets new best time of 41:41! HTC-Columbia now occupies first and second for the stage thus far.
There's a cluster of three riders out on the couse. Jens Voigt is very close to David Zabriskie, while Voigt is being shadowed by Steve Morabito (BMC). Morabito started two minutes before Voigt, but has been caught and passed by the German.
US road race champion George Hincapie (BMC) is in for 23rd place.
There was another exciting day of racing in the Giro d'Italia today. Check out full results, report and photos from stage 14.
Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) is gritting his teeth, putting out maximum effort. He trails race leader Michael Rogers by 14 seconds at the start of the time trial and is hoping to ride himself into yellow today.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) has set the 10th fastest time at the first split, 43 seconds off the pace of Tony Martin's split.
Zabriskie also sports a custom stars-and-stripes paint job on his time trial bike.
He's looking very smooth and powerful.
Levi Leipheimer is through the first split in 21:04, the second-fastest thus far today.
Leipheimer passed Peter Sagan (Liquigas). The Slovakian has yet to come through the intermediate split.
Jens Voigt is out of the saddle and sprinting to the finish. Voigt has recorded the second fastest time: 42:40
David Zabriskie has recorded 20:57 at the first split, the second fastest of the day.
Michael Rogers has gone through the first split faster than Zabriskie: 20:53. The Australian has clocked the second fastest split.
However, Zabriskie has the hometown advantage. Does he know something Rogers doesn't? Will he try to record a faster second lap?
Zabriskie will have to go faster on the second lap to win the stage. Of course the laps aren't starting and finishing on the same line, so it's not exactly the same distance...
It's shaping up to be a very tight race of truth today as the overall favourites are only seconds apart
Chris Horner finishes with a time of 43:00, Peter Stetina crosses the line in 44:53 and Phil Zajicek clocks a 44:17.
Zabriskie rounds a turn, stands up to get the gear rolling again and is immediately back into his aero position.
Rogers is rolling a huge gear.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transitions), who started the stage in 10th overall, has finished in 43:49.
The Slovenian time trial champion Janez Brajkovic (Team Radioshack) clocks a 43:48, good for 12th place at the moment.
Rogers has completed 25km of his 33.6km time trial as he powers down a lengthy straightaway.
Zabriskie is out of the saddle on one of the brief rises on the circuit, looking very smooth.
Rory Sutherland finishes with the sixth fastest time: 43:00.
Levi Leipheimer (Team Radioshack) is in with 42:14, the second fastest time so far today.
Only three riders still to finish: Peter Sagan, David Zabriskie and Michael Rogers.
Peter Sagan is approaching the finish...
Sagan finishes in 15th place at 43:18.
Here comes David Zabriskie...
The American time trial champion stops the clock in 42:08, good for 2nd place right now on the stage.
Michael Rogers is inside 1km to go...
Here comes Michael Rogers....
The Aussie clocks a 42:03! He doesn't beat Martin, but Rogers puts a little bit of breathing room between himself and Zabriskie and Leipheimer.
Michael Rogers now leads David Zabriskie on GC by nine seconds. Leipheimer is now third overall, 25 seconds behind the Australian, while Jens Voigt leaps into fourth place on GC, 1:12 behind Rogers.
That wraps up our live coverage for today. We are set up for an exciting conclusion tomorrow to the Amgen Tour of California on stage 8 in Thousand Oaks. We hope you'll join us.
The race starts at 12:30 pm local (Pacific) time and we'll begin our live coverage just before the start.