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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. Today we'll be bringing you coverage of the 'queen' stage 7 taking the riders 121.9km from Claremont to the summit of Mt. Baldy. The race starts at 11:45 PDT.
The queen stage seven might be short but it is one of the most challenging and decisive stages in the Amgen Tour of California. The race will start in Claremont and climb for roughly 20 kilometres to the top of Glendora Ridge Rd for the first California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM).
The sprinters will have a moment to shine at the only Herbal Life intermediate sprint located near the mid-point of the race in the town of Glendora.
From there, the route continues into the base of the final climb. The top climbers will emerge for the second KOM ascent located near kilometre 92 on Glendora Mountain Rd. The general classification contenders will likely battle for golden leader’s jersey over the next 25 kilometres up to the top of Mt.Baldy.
The peloton will get underway in one minute.
They'll face a 5.8km neutral section, and then the fireworks will likely commence.
There should be quite a battle on the road to Mt Baldy to determine general classification supremacy.
Chris Horner (RadioShack) remains atop GC after yesterday's Solvang time trial.
As a reminder, here's the general classification top-20:
1 Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 17:17:01
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:00:38
3 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 0:01:38
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:39
5 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:44
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:01:54
7 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:02:26
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:02:27
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:43
10 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:54
11 Andrew Talansky (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:02:56
12 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:58
13 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:03:29
14 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:03:56
15 David Zabriskie (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:04:04
16 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:04:18
17 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:04:25
18 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:04:35
19 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:05:00
20 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 0:05:06
The race is underway! Well, for the neutral section right now.
Here's what race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo about today's stage:
"We have a great team. Certainly they'll have to do a lot of work, but we have a lot of really good climbers. We have Haimar Zubeldia who's getting better every day - he was sick when he arrived here. Our young rider Matthew Busche has been unbelievably strong on the climbs. We always have Levi for the stage win, or if I get in trouble he can help me out."
The sun is out and it's very warm in Claremont with big crowds on hand to see the peloton off.
The general consensus among riders and team staff is that there will be absolute chaos on Mt. Baldy. Should be quite an awesome day of racing today.
Chris Horner is calling for his team car. The riders are still rolling along in the neutral section.
After doing several laps in Claremont, the peloton has just passed across the start line for the final time.
We'll be on the course shortly and the climbing will begin really quickly.
The day's first KOM, a category 2 ascent on Glendora Ridge Rd, arrives 18.5km into the stage.
We are rolling - the race will start with a right turn on Foothills Blvd, which mean hills. Climbing. Pain.
Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) had a mechanical. The race start is being delayed until he's back in the peloton.
The peloton is approaching the 0km point and Candelario is still making his way through the caravan. The peloton is holding off still until he's back.
There is still snow on the top of the peaks to our left and the smog/haze layer is obscuring the peaks beyond.
Maybe Candelario thinks if he takes a really, really long time to change his front wheel they'll keep the whole stage neutral.
And Candelario has returned. We're racing!
Pain seems to be the theme for the day.
Ted King (Liguigas-Cannondale) said today will be a "short but very painful day".
We have an attack from a Jelly Belly rider.
Today's race is presented by Nissan - Chris Horner said in the press conference he won't do US Pro because he's got a Nissan sponsor event to attend, with Leipheimer.
It's too bad, but he said he needs to have time to spend with his family.
There are now 7 riders off the front with a slender advantage.
Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) said he expects a lot of pain - either with RadioShack setting such a tempo that Garmin-Cervelo can't attack, or Garmin-Cervelo getting someone away but RadioShack keeping them on a short leash. Either way it's going to be really hard on everyone.
Their team will see how it goes for Jesse Anthony's KOM chances. Creed thinks Garmin-Cervelo will be throwing so much at RadioShack that there won't be much chance for them to go for KOM points.
And speaking of the KOM classification here's the top-10 going into today's stage:
1 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10 23 pts
2 Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth 17
3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 12
4 Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 10
5 Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10 10
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 10
7 Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack 10
8 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack 8
9 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team 7
10 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 7
Regarding Jesse Anthony's chances for the KOMs, Jonas Carney, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth team director, said
"It's not out of the question that one of those guys (GC contenders) will end up in the [mountain classification] jersey just because they win the stage.
"There's enough points if Pat McCarty or Jesse [Anthony] are riding well enough in the first two climbs to get points, but if they aren't it could turn out that Levi or Horner could get 12 points on the top of Mt. Baldy and win the jersey. Both McCarty and Jesse need to get points early on if they can."
Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Ben Swift (Sky Procycling), Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Brian Vandborg (Saxo Bank Sungard), Alexander Gottfried (Team NetApp), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Benjamin Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) went out on the attack
The peloton was quick to chase them down, however, and currently only Bellotti is off the front.
We're 5.6km into the stage and it's been incredibly aggressive. There is now a 16-man group with a small lead.
Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team), Alexander Gottfried (Team NetApp), Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) have crashed in the peloton. They're up and making their way back to the field.
The climbing has begun.
Laura Weislo spoke to Allan Peiper, HTC-Highroad team director, before the stage today.
He thinks Tejay Van Garderen's 16 seconds on 3rd place is a realistic goal for today, but doesn't think that the top two places are reachable. On Mt Baldy, 16s is 75m he said.
He expects a Garmin-Cervelo/Radioshack showdown, but thought Garmin-Cervelo is running out of cards to play.
HTC-Highroad riders have done this circuit 3 times since December and Peiper says there is a real chance for riders to be devastated. From the feed zone to the finish is all uphill and a rider could really fall to pieces.
Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has his family at the race today - his parents have been following the race all week, and his grandparents came today from Las Vegas to see him.
They chalked a big message just after the start line "Go TIMMY"
While the Amgen Tour of California peloton tackles Mt Baldy today, over the pond in the Giro d'Italia the riders had to ascend the fearsome Monte Zoncolon. Read all about the action here.
We're 10km into the stage and the field is together.
There are huge crowds along the route, cheering on the racers.
There's now a nine-man break with a 30-second lead.
The break is comprised of Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Christopher Froome and Ben Swift (Sky Procycling), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) and Rob Britton (Bissell Cycling).
McCarty, the KOM leader is there, searching for more points today.
We've got an enthusiastic fan running alongside the riders with a Spanish flag. One rider tried to jump across to the break, but was brought back by the field.
Ben Swift (Sky) has been dropped from the break.
We still have nine riders up the road, as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) successfully bridged to the break.
Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team) is chasing the nine escapees and is 15 seconds back. The peloton is at 30 seconds.
The first KOM line is 5km away.
It's a hard day for everyone in the Amgen Tour of California peloton.
Leigh Howard, HTC-Highroad's sprinter for tomorrow according to Peiper, said he expects the time cut to be around 30 minutes for today. Howard said whatever it is, they'll have to go full gas in the gruppetto just to make the cut.
Lucas Euser (Spidertech Powered by C10) said it's their sole job today to protect Pat McCarty's mountains jersey and he expects to work really hard today. It's been a great tour for their team.
Alastair Loutit (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) has abandoned.
Our nine leaders now have over a one-minute lead on the peloton. The climb has flattened out for the moment, but will kick up again to the KOM.
Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) talked to Laura Weislo before the start today and said the team hasn't been in as many breakaways as they've wanted, that they still have 7 riders in the race and have been keeping their morale high. For a lot of the team it's their first big Tour.
It's an absolute madhouse atop the first KOM. Huge crowds out to see the race.
Team cars are being let into the gap behind the break. Looks like this move may stick for a while.
The break and peloton are across the day's first KOM where they went through an incredibly raucous group of fans.
The break has a lead of 1:50 over the peloton.
We'll provide KOM results shortly.
The break's lead is at 2:00 after 22.5km of racing.
The Garmin-Cervelo riders were setting the pace in the break up the climb. Britton, the Bissell rider, was really sufferering, but it looks like he made it across the top with the break.
Still waiting for KOM results.
Two more riders have abandoned: Andreas Schillinger (Team NetApp) and Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home)
Cyclingnews spoke to Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervelo) yesterday. He's in today's break and is a contender in the young rider classification. You can find out his Amgen Tour of California experience here.
Pat McCarty took top honors at the first KOM. We'll have the rest of the placings shortly.
The descent off the first KOM was incredibly twisting and technical. The break nearly caught the race caravan's advance vehicles on the way down.
Here's the results of the first KOM:
It looks like Garmin-Cervelo director Jonathan Vaughters' prediction that his riders will animate the stage today is coming to fruition.
Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) had this to say to Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo about today's 'queen' stage:
"I pre-rode that course, it's very challenging - probably one of the more challenging courses I've ever seen. We're going to be very aggressive. I'm sure everyone's going to be as aggressive as possible. It's not going to be easy to control. Is anyone going to be able to ride away from Horner? I doubt it. But putting him under pressure - you never know."
The nine-man break is at km 47.8 and has a 1:50 lead over the peloton.
A gruppetto has been formed and those riders are approximately 2:00 behind the field.
And as a reminder, these are the nine riders on the attack:
Ryder Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) and Rob Britton (Bissell Cycling)
Hesjedal and Talansky are the best-placed riders on GC in the break, 8th (at 2:27) and 11th (at 2:56) overall respectively.
Hincapie, Froome and Niermann are also in the top-20 overall, 16th (at 4:18), 17th (at 4:25) and 18th (at 4:35).
The pressure's being applied to RadioShack, who have Horner and Leipheimer 1st and 2nd overall.
And just as I mention Froome, we've found out that he's been dropped from the break.
The riders are on a long, gradual descent to Glendora at the moment.
There's a sprint line in Glendora at km 74.2., then the climbing will commence again for the stage's second KOM, a category 2 ascent at km 92.5.
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The race has split up into four groups on the road. There's the 8-man break, the first group of chasers led by RadioShack and then there are two more groups after that. The last one, the gruppetto, is approximately seven miles behind the break.
It's definitely a hot day in California today, with temperatures in the 80s F.
The break is 5km from the sprint line in Glendora.
The riders have 1km to the sprint line.
Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) is riding alone behind the race and will abandon at the feed zone, coming up shortly.
Rob Britton (Bissell) is going for the sprint.
The main field now has 1km to the sprint line.
The break is through the sprint line, we'll have results shortly.
Results for the sprint in Glendora:
1. Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale)
2. Ryder Hesjedal (Team Garmin-Cervelo)
3. Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo)
The break's lead is still at 1:50.
The break's heading through the feed zone and lead by 1:45.
The break's climbing again with Hesjedal setting tempo.
RadioShack setting the pace in the main field.
Race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) is tucked in behind his teammates at the front of the pack.
Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) has abandoned.
Many riders have their jerseys fully unzipped, trying to keep cool on this hot day.
Riders in the break are rotating with Efimkin currently taking his turn at the front.
Jason McCartney and US champion Ben King are doing the pace-making for RadioShack.
It's an absolutely stunning day with nary a cloud in the sky, just brilliant sunshine.
Chris Horner (RadioShack) looks calm and in control. He showed he had the best climbing legs on Sierra Road. Will we see a repeat of that today?
The break has 37km to go and their lead is at 1:40.
Good news for the riders struggling today. At the start of the stage the time cut was increased from 11 percent to 17 percent. Still, it's going to take some serious work to stay in the race.
Timothy Roe (BMC) had a mechanical but regained contact with the fiedl.
Alexander Gottfried (Team NetApp) has launched an attack from the field.
The RadioShack riders setting tempo looked unruffled, letting him go.
The break has 6km to the next KOM.
Three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) looks at ease, sitting in the field.
The tempo is still strong in the field, however, and group is gradually decreasing in size. Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) is having trouble making contact.
Leopard Trek is now contributing to the chase effort with RadioShack. Andy Schleck must fancy his chances on Mt Baldy.
The field is stretching out, more riders getting popped.
Timothy Roe (BMC) has been dropped but is fighting to regain contact.
Sprint leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has been dropped.
There looks to be approximately 50-60 riders left in the field.
It's stunning scenery on the climb to the KOM, gently winding. There are small clusters of spectators along the climb with the main concentration at the top.
Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) is riding tailgunner now in the field.
Rob Britton just took a pull in the break, and hands things over to Alexander Efimkin.
It looks like Pat McCarty is sitting at the back of the break, saving himself for his upcoming effort for KOM points.
Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team) is calling for the team car at the back of the field.
The break is approaching the KOM line.
Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank) dropped back for bottles and is moving up through the field.
McCarty is moving up near the front of the break.
McCarty took maximum points again at the KOM. We're waiting for full results.
The field crosses the KOM line, led by Ben King. The break is holding at 2:00.
Results for KOM #2
The NetApp rider, Gottfried, has been swept up by the field.
Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) tucked in at the back of the field.
Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) out of the saddle, setting the pace at the front of the break.
While RadioShack have 1-2 with Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer, third overall is held by Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare).
He told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo that he was "apprehensive" about today, but he showed very good climbing legs on the Sierra Road finish.
Sutherland's team, UnitedHealthcare, has stated their goal is a podium finish and the Australian is showing impressive form.
More riders are getting popped from the field: Jamey Driscoll, Dan Bowman, Alexander Gottfried.
The break is descending and sees the 20km to go marker.
Hincapie drifts to the back of the break and calls for his team car.
Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) attacked, but was soon brought back.
Tour of Flanders champion Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) has slipped off the back of the peloton.
UnitedHealthcare rides are moving to the front of the field, putting Rory Sutherland in position for Mt Baldy.
The gruppetto is 17:30 off the pace.
One of RadioShack's team cars has suffered a flat.
There looks to be about 40 riders left in the main field.
Pat McCarty has now been absorbed by the field.
US champion Ben King is doing massive amounts of work in service of Horner and Leipheimer.
Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) flatted in the field and was none too pleased with the speed of his wheel change.
His work is done. Ben King has now slipped out of the field, accompanied by Pat McCarty.
This is definitely becoming an elite selection chasing the break. More riders, one-by-one getting popped
There goes Oscar Freire (Rabobank) off the back.
Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack) has done his share for Horner and Leipheimer and has been dropped.
Garmin-Cervelo's Johan Van Summeren and Dave Zabriskie have been dropped.
Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) looking calm near the front of the field.
And Anders Lund (Leopard Trek) bids adieu to the field.
The break's lead is down to 45 seconds. Talansky is setting the pace and is getting upset with the camera moto.
Talansky still pushing the pace in the break. His teammate Hesjedal is sitting on the back of the 7-man escape.
The break will soon be on the climb of Mt Baldy. Their lead remains at 45 seconds for the moment.
Rory Sutherland near the front of the field with two teammates.
Our seven leaders:
Ryder Hesjedal and Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Rob Britton (Bissell Cycling)
Horner and Leipheimer are behind two teammates at the front, followed by Sutherland.
Matt Busche is setting tempo for RadioShack in the field.
There riders are on a slight descent, nearing the start of the Mt Baldy climb.
It's time for Mt. Baldy.
Niermann has been dropped from the break and now Talansky is in trouble.
Britton has a slight gap over the break.
Niermann is about to be absorbed by the chase effort.
The peloton is down to approximately 25 riders and shrinking.
Talansky has been absorbed while teammate Dan Martin has been dropped from the field.
Efimkin spinning a low gear tucked in behind Bellotti.
Horner and Leipheimer are second and third in line in the chase group.
The break is totally split.
Efimkin is now alone in the lead.
Hincapie has been caught and dropped.
Britton has been absorbed by the Horner group.
The climb is just brutal and there's still more than 5km to come.
Andy Schleck on Leipheimer's wheel.
Efimkin sees 5km to go and is getting some encouragement from spectators.
The Horner group is down to about 8 riders
Bellotti has been caught and dropped by the Horner group. Only Efimkin is in front.
Rory Sutherland is not with the Horner group.
Matt Busche, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Andy Schleck, Tejay Van Garderen, Steve Morabito, Christian Vande Velde and Laurens Ten Dam are all that's left in pursuit of Efimkin.
It's now Horner, Busche, Leipheimer, Ten Dam and Schleck chasing Efimkin.
The Horner group is closing in on Efimkin.
Efimkin is out of the saddle on the steep grade, holding a 5-second lead.
Schleck is getting popped while Tom Danielson, Van Garderen and Steve Morabito are fighting their way back to Horner's group.
Efimkin has been caught with 2.9km to go.
It's carnage on Mt. Baldy. Busche pulled off and nearly came to a stop. Ten Dam is in trouble.
The crowds are out in force as it's Leipheimer and Horner together at the head of the race.
Andy Schleck is cooked, grinding his way uphill.
Leipheimer and Horner see 2km to go.
They're both out of the saddle, riding away from everyone.
Leipheimer continues to set the pace, with Horner on his wheel.
The RadioShack duo are flying up the climb and are about to see 1km to go.
And Leipheimer and Horner pass under the flamme rouge. They've got a bunch of fans running alongside them, just screaming.
Ah, relief from spectator zaniness as the duo are inside the barriers.
It looks like Vande Velde and Schleck are the next riders on the road.
Leipheimer has been doing all the work.
It's levelling off now as the RadioShack pair near the finish line.
Only a few switchbacks remain...
Leipheimer and Horner shake hands near the finish line as Leipheimer wins, Horner second.
Ten Dam finishes third, 40 seconds down
Tom Danielson grabs fourth, 59 seconds back.
Steve Morabito pips Alexander Efimkin for fifth.
And we have a provisional top-10 for the day:
1Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack3:33:03
2Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack
3Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:00:43
4Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:01:01
5Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:01:21
6Alexander Efimkin (Rus) Team Type 1 - Sanofi Aventis0:01:21
7Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad0:01:29
8Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:01:39
9Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
10Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
The provisional top-five overall:
1Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack20:50:02
2Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack0:00:38
3Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:02:45
4Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:03:18
5Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad0:03:23
Thank you for joining us for the queen stage to Mt. Baldy. Join us tomorrow for the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California.