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Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of stage 5 of the 2014 Tour of California.
Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of California. The riders will be getting underway shortly from Pismo Beach for their 173km journey to Santa Barbara. It's beautiful California weather, and the surf's up! The water is filled with wet-suited bodies and boards.
The riders are starting on the 1200ft long Pismo Beach pier, it's a pretty dramatic shot for the race photographers. They have only a 0.3mi long neutral section so the action will be ON from the gun!
The riders are off, and rolling out of Pismo Beach. The first of two sprints is only 20km into the stage, so we'll expect the sprinters to keep the race together until then.
After the sprint in Arroyo Grande, there is another one just up the road in Nipomo at km 35.3 - so we are going to have a quick start. After that expect the bunch to break up, and for mountains classification leader Will Routley to work to defend his jersey on the sole category 1 ascent of the San Marcos pass at km. 146.3.
It's a hot day in Southern California, and temps are inching above 100F as they head inland. They'll be going through lots of bottles.
There have already been attacks but so far, nothing has gone clear.
Our start town, Pismo Beach, always makes me think of the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck episode "Ali Baba Bunny", where the pair surface from their underground travels expecting to be in Pismo Beach, but should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Instead of Pismo Beach they are in a cave with a hidden treasure...
But really, Pismo Beach is more famous for its clams, which used to be so plentiful they could be harvested with a back hoe, but sadly, like all of our natural resources, the bounty has been greatly diminished.
Today's stage might have a big climb in it, but there are 26.6km between the top and the finish line in Santa Barbara, so there is a chance for the sprinters to come back.
One rider looking for revenge after stage 1 is Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb. He told Cyclingnews' Pat Malach:
"Yesterday was a really good opportunity, but we missed it, and that's the situation now and we have to handle it.
"Today is another opportunity. It's not going to be an easy one. It's going to be a very tough stage. Most important is that we are going to protect Lawson Craddock in the GC. If there's a possibility for a sprint, then I am definitely going to try to hang on and go for it."
And how many riders could there be left after such a climb?
"It depends on the race and the situation. The riders make the race. That's the point. If there is an early breakaway this will also be important and have a big influence."
We're still seeing plenty of attacks, but the racing is as hot as the tarmac - it's touching 103F out there now - and nobody can get a clean break.
Riders have been flying through those first 15km, they're past the 5km to go to the first sprint and all together.
A reminder of the GC situation coming into stage 5:
1Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky13:53:51
2Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp0:00:28
3Tiago Machado (Por) NetApp-Endura0:01:09
4Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Shimano0:01:25
5Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge0:02:14
6Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing 0:02:28
7Matthew Busche (USA) Trek 0:02:29
8Carter Jones (USA) Optum 0:02:31
9Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin 0:02:33
10Javier Acevedo (Col) Garmin Sharp0:02:34
But, more importantly for the current situation, look for Mark Cavendish to try and unseat Will Routley as points leader
1 William Routley (Can) Optum 19 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step 19
3 Gregory Daniel (USA) Bissell Development Team 17
4 Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 12
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 12
6 Kevin De Masmaeker (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk 11
7 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 10
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 10
9 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 10
10 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 6
It's difficult to get information when the bunch is moving so quickly, but a breakaway escaped before the sprint:
1Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
2Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
3Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura
The breakaway is:
Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
Isaac Bolivar (Col) UnitedHealthcare
Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura
Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
Wynants is our highest placed rider on GC, but at 9:44 behind leader Bradley Wiggins in the standings, this move poses no threat. Still, they've only got 2:15. If the sprinters want a chance today they can't let them stretch it out too far.
The leaders are still at 2:15 and have covered 28km in the first 35 minutes of racing. They'll be seeing 5km to the second sprint fairly soon.
Normally feeding from the team cars is not open until 50km into the stage, but today is so hot that the officials have opened the buffet early. It's a billion degrees in this wide open, sun-burnt country of farmland.
Rob Squire (Jamis-Hagens Berman) was chasing that move solo, but faded back to the field.
Phil Gaimon of Garmin-Sharp is sure there will be a sprint of a decent size today. He told Pat Malach:
"I think the sprinters' teams are going to make sure they don't screw it up today. Someone's going to throw down on the climb and try and drop a couple of sprinters is my guess.
"We'll try and keep Rohan [Dennis] safe and put pressure on Sky if we get an opportunity. Tomorrow is the big day for sure."
The breakaway has stayed together through the sprint line in Nipomo, and this time Camaño won the bonus points:
1 Iker Camano (Spa) NetApp-Endura
2 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
3 Isaac Bolivar (Col) UnitedHealthcare
Now comes the long, difficult task for the peloton of keeping this breakaway on just enough leash that they stay away, discouraging attacks, but close enough that they can be chased down at will. There are a long, hot, undulating 110km between this point in the race and the San Marcos Pass.
The breakaway is heading through the Santa Maria valley, which is the oldest wine appellation in the region, dating back to the 1830s! Even though it's blazing hot today, the ocean normally provides a cooling marine layer, making the area favorable to cool grape varietals like Pinot noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot blanc.
You may recall that Isaac Bolivar was in a previous breakaway on stage 1. He's carrying UnitedHealthcare's flag again today.
The team's DS Hendrik Redant told Pat Malach they really want a win in the Tour of California:
"It's one of our goals to try and grab one of the victories this week. Yesterday we tried hard. We put two riders even in the break. But you don't always get it like you want it.
"After yesterday I think the teams of the Cavendishes and the Sagans are aware that once the break is up the road that those people are also riding their bikes hard. Maybe they will chase from a bit earlier and not taking any serious risk of waiting too long. So for that I think the break will be caught.
"With a climb about 40km come the finish, maybe someone like Sagan will try to pull it open and try to bet rid of all the other sprinters. But with the descent coming up and the other kickers at the end. I reckon there will be a group of 40-50 guys there."
The riders in California must be pretty pleased with their choice of races considering the abysmal conditions the riders have endured in the Giro d'Italia. Today's rainy finished caused a number of GC hopefuls to crash and lose time, and in a controversial move, BMC's Cadel Evans picked up a lot of time on his competitors. Should he have waited? You can join the debate in our forum.
Amazingly enough, Michael Matthews made it through the final climb with Evans, and managed to win his first stage of the Giro in the maglia rosa. He now leads the GC, best young rider and, strangely enough, the mountains classification.
Read about it here.
The breakaway is on the outskirts of Santa Maria now, and coincidentally, the news came out today that ocean explorer Barry Clifford thinks he may have located the wreck of Christopher Columbus's ship of that same name.
Our intrepid explorers in the breakaway have passed the natives, kids at the Pioneer Valley High School who were out in force to cheer them on - and are now enjoying the richness of the land, passing fields of delicious strawberries and raspberries. No time to stop and snack, however, as they keep plugging along, holding a steady 2:20 on the field.
Damage reports from the Giro d'Italia are starting to trickle in from the crashed riders. So many went down, it was painful to see them limping to the line.
Ben Swift @swiftybswift
Well that one hurt. Only thing in my wash bag tonight is my undershirt.
Katusha fared the worst, losing Giampaolo Caruso and Angel Vicioso, and team leader Joaquim Rodriguez lost 7:43. Read all about it here.
Luckily things have been much better for the riders in California. Garmin's Alex Howes is a bit under the weather, and we've had a few spills but nothing on the magnitude of what happened in Italy.
The riders are now passing by the Cottonwood Canyon Winery, 65km behind them.
Do you remember former US Pro champion Timmy Duggan? He unfortunately retired after failing to find a team this year, but he's on the Tour of California nonetheless - on the back of a support moto delivering ice socks to the breakaway to help cool them down.
There is also a water truck in the back misting the riders to keep them cool. You won't see that in the Vuelta a España!
Although the roads are straight and heading through agricultural land and wineries, they're not exactly flat - the breakaway is powering up a small hill at the moment, but still hanging onto the 2:05 gap at km. 68.
One rider in the breakaway who was tipped for big things here was Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly). The Moldovian won the time trial at the Tour of the Gila and was second at Redlands. However, he was hung up in a crash on stage 1.
The break has now dipped below the two minute mark to the field, and the temperatures are soaring to 104F.
Tour of California race leader Bradley Wiggins is looking as fit as he did when he won the 2012 Tour de France, and it is clear that he has been working very hard ahead of the Tour de France. Considering his performance at Paris-Roubaix, and the stage that passes over those same cobbles, do you think Wiggins could emerge as Team Sky's leader, or co-leader in the Tour? Join the discussion on our forum.
Wiggins' team has insisted that he will work for Chris Froome, the defending Tour champion.
Meanwhile, Wiggins is concentrating on getting the overall victory in Tour of California, and is looking at the Mountain High stage finish as the next challenge. Today he'll take a back seat to the sprinters but keep a watchful eye on the San Marcos Pass.
Either the breakaway is withering in the heat, or the peloton is feeling frisky behind them, because the gap has come down to 1:30. Surely none of these riders were a threat to Wiggins, Dennis or any of our GC leaders.
The strong sprinters will likely try to shed the fast but not as lithe ones, guys like JJ Haedo who had no hopes of being involved in the sprint today.
"Absolutely not. If it's a sprint it will be from a small group of 30-50 guys max. That climb is pretty hard. We had do that in 2006, and I think only like 35 guys made it through. So s sprinters like me are not looking for today," Haedo told Pat Malach this morning.
Team Sky is really keeping the breakaway on a tight leash, the gap so low now they will not allow the media car to be in the gap, so we're pushed on ahead and getting very little information right now. All we know is it's very hot, and they're in the middle of nowhere with only a few cattle from ranches dotting the hillsides.
It seems that the peloton has the breakaway in its sights. They aren't even trying too hard, but apparently the six breakaway riders just don't have good legs today. The heat has taken it out of them.
In about 10 miles they'll reach civilization again, some roads that will look familiar to those who've had training camps in Solvang.
Oh dear, our cruel task master, race leader Bradley Wiggins, has signalled for a mass nature break. That means those poor six men have to stay out front a little longer.
A big shout out to the three readers following the live coverage from Budapest in Hungary. I've always wanted to visit Budapest - can I come on over?
Peter Sagan's fans in Bratislava, Slovakia, are also following along with Cyclingnews today - ahoj!
The race is actually a bit ahead of schedule today, touching on the fastest schedule of the race time table. They've averaged 26.5mph so far, and that's not easy going.
If the scenery looks at all familiar to the riders, they may have caught these vistas in the movie Sideways, which was filmed near here.
Team Sky is getting some help now from the Orica-GreenEdge team, while the sprinters like Mark Cavendish are hanging onto the back as the bunch is lined out going up an unclassified climb.
Isaac Bolivar is leading the breakaway up this climb, their efforts are earning them some more time on the peloton, it's up to 1:40 now.
Seems that Cyclingnews photographer Jonathan Devich has found himself a herd of longhorn cattle up ahead of the breakaway. Hope he keeps his distance as he works to bring you these scenics.
The breakaway is now enjoying a quick little descent, with Dutch rider Danny van Poppel leading them on the fast section.
The peloton is really hanging back now, although Cannondale has come to the fore to show their intent. The gap is going up, now to 1:45.
The Tour of California visited Santa Barbara last year, too - but then they came from the east, and had no climbs like San Marcos to contend with before the finish. The stage was won by Garmin's Tyler Farrar.
Farrar isn't at the race this year, he's off suffering at the Giro d'Italia. He was one of those involved in that wreck today but seemed to come away relatively unscathed.
The last time the Tour of California went over the San Marcos Pass to the finish in Santa Barbara was the very first year of the race in 2006, it was also stage 5. Only 36 riders made the front group that year, and the sprint was won by George Hincapie.
The breakaway is once again Michael Schär (BMC), Danny Van Poppel (Trek), Maarten Wynants (Belkin), Isaac Bolivar (UnitedHealthcare), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly).
They've got a little descent now and that's helping them extend their lead back up over two minutes.
The BMC car has requested the presence of Thor Hushovd for a "discussion". Let's see what that team has up its sleeve today.
Whoo! Action - we have an attack from Cannondale's Guillaume Boivin.
Or maybe that wasn't an attack - he was riding on the front and the Orica rider just let up. Boivin appears to be working for Sagan today, it was the other way around on stage 1 and yesterday.
Riders are being warned that up ahead at mile 75 they'll face a roundabout that's under construction, Hopefully they'll get through it OK.
The Tour of California riders have already accustomed themselves to the "bots dots", or cat eyes, that dot the center lines on the roads in the state. They're there for safety of drivers but they're a menace to bike racers.
The peloton is now getting more serious about the gap to the breakaway: what was 2:15 has dropped back down to 1:55, thanks to Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge.
Swiss champion Michael Schär has a little lean around a pothole, but sails through it fine. He and his breakaway companions have a big target on their backs, one that's as clear to the overhead camera as that red cross on Schär's back.
However, thanks to his presence up front, the BMC team is taking a back seat to the chasing.
The San Marcos Pass is visible in the distance to the breakaway, but it's way off on the horizon of this long, straight, wide road through the scrubland.
Want to see one of those Belkin Bianchi Oltre bikes up close, like the one Maarten Wynants is on? the Cyclingnews crew caught Wilco Kelderman's mechanic at the Giro d'Italia for this video pro bike.
The six riders are cooperating fully with each other, but the wind is causing them a bit of a headache. The gap is falling to 1:45 now in the cross-headwind.
Here we go with the "roundabout", it's not quite made it to round yet, so the peloton has to take a hard left. They all make it through just fine.
Will Routley is in the green points jersey today, owing to him leading that classification as well as the mountains one. In the polka dots is Jonny Clarke (UHC) who is the runner-up in that classification. Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) is in the white jersey of best young rider.
Because Clarke, who was the "most courageous" rider yesterday, is in polka dots, the blue jersey for that competition goes to Chris Jones, who was also in the stage 4 breakaway.
While the San Marcos Pass was decisive when the Tour of California was in February, we doubt that as many riders will be dropped on the climb today. It isn't that steep, although the descent is pretty steep and tricky.
According to the internet, the climb is 5% average, and Optum's Brad Huff has the current title, with a time of 21:35. We think he might lose that KOM today...
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) has had to stop for a bike change.
The road leading up to the climb isn't an easy one, and the heat and lumpy roads are starting to weigh on the breakaway. Danny van Poppel isn't looking very comfortable.
Tvetcov is calling for his team car, it's time to get a drink. The entire peloton has been chugging like a bunch of spring break frat boys today, but they'll enjoy the cooler weather on the other side of the pass.
The breakaway's lead is down to just 1:25, and I have bad news for the riders. What was a pleasant 86F in Santa Barbara before has gone up to a rather stifling 96F now.
The orange helmets of the Optum team stand out in stark contrast to the deep green backdrop of the tree-lined hillsides. They're moving up to keep Will Routley up there for the KOM and Carter Jones for GC.
There are about 5km to go before the climb starts, and the break is now less than a minute ahead of the field, still under the control of Orica-GreenEdge.
Giant-Shimano is up front for Degenkolb, but Orica seems to think that Matt Goss can get over this climb with the front group. We have no doubt that the former Milan-San Remo winner can as well.
The breakaway is on a pre-climb climb, with Bolivar leading the way. The NetApp rider Camaño is also looking strong.
Cannondale has no come to the fore with Aussie Cameron Wurf and Boivin leading the way.
We're getting reports of big crowds and marching bands at the finish line in Santa Barbara. Who doesn't love a marching band? Especially if it's a middle school band, with dubious tuning...
We have an attack from Jens Voigt from the field. Of course Jens is attacking. That's just what he does.
This will be Voigt's last Tour of California, and he wants to go out with a bang. The peloton doesn't care - they'll let him go tackle that 8km climb without them. The breakaway might not be so happy to see him if he makes it there.
Bolivar has attacked the breakaway, but he doesn't get far. He's just trying to keep the breakaway going.
The breakaway is on the San Marcos Pass climb now, it's up up up from here.
Remember there are no race radios in this event, so Danny van Poppel won't know that his teammate was trying to bridge, but merely kicked the hornet's nest and sparked the chase. Just 30" or so to the field.
Wynants attacks as the field looms large behind the break. Van Poppel is dropped.
Tvetcov and Van Poppel have been caught by the Cannondale-led peloton
Bolivar goes again and takes Wynants with him.
Camaño and Schär are caught. Bovliar cracked and Wynants keeps going.
Wynants is still dangling in front of the peloton, who are taking this climb steadily to save the sprinters' legs.
Wiggins is third wheel, but he's surrounded by Garmin's POC helmets.
Wynants was caught a bit ago, and the peloton is starting to come apart at the back. It's a headwind that is keeping the sparks from really flying.
Wiggins has Sagan on his wheel, but the Slovakian champion is looking around for something - perhaps he wants a drink.
Rohan Dennis has his number 13 upside down on his bike. He didn't take part in such superstitions on stage 1 and crashed. He made up for it on the Mt. Diablo to win that stage.
Hello to all the Australians and Kiwis who are following our live coverage. Good morning!
The Tour of California peloton, all together as they head over a large bridge - the peloton has been split in half, we think the gruppetto has formed, but Sagan is up front.
Attack, Jamis-Hagens Berman. It's Jaramillo! The super Colombian climber who showed his talents in the Tour of the Gila.
Jaramillo is way down, 8:26, but Cannondale wants Sagan to win today's stage, so they aren't letting him go far.
Want to know a little more about Daniel Jaramillo? Read Pat Malach's story here.
Cannondale is just drilling it, pulling Jaramillo back together. 24.5km to go.
Wiggins has one teammate with him, Sagan has two up front with him, too. It doesn't look as if Garmin will be a threat, but Optum attacks.
It's Routley, don't forget he has the green jersey but he's going for polka dots today.
Routley is getting no challenge today. He went so hard he almost wrecked himself, but he's got the maximum points.
Now Bissell takes the front. Keep an eye on those kids, Axel Merckx has schooled them very well and they're always where they need to be.
NetApp-Endura is up front too, but now it's Phinney the bomber that comes to the front to speed down this descent.
Phinney is riding away from the peloton, who are pedalling, but he's coasting, sitting on his top tube, getting right up on the moto.
Phinney is really opening up a decent gap, but Cannondale is coming after him.
Phinney has more of a gap that Jaramillo could manage. He's just flying.
Phinney has a 15 second gap with 14.4km to go, but Cannondale has come all together at the front of the chasing peloton.
Sorry it's 14 miles to go, 23km to go, but he's got 20 seconds now. He might have more trouble when the road flattens out, but he's enjoying this downhill. Whee!
How does a 6'5" tall rider get so small on the bike? He's doing 110kmh down this descent. Luckily it's dry and not too technical.
This is a pretty exciting move from the BMC rider. Can he hold off the Cannondale chase?
George Bennett is doing a ton of work for Cannondale, but he's not pulling Phinney back. He's at 25" now.
Phiney has run out of descent now, and is on his way into Santa Barbara. It will be one hard individual vs. peloton pursuit.
Phinney is taking big risks out front, he nearly went into the curb on a left hand turn. But he's still holding 25"
Mark Cavendish is one sprinter who did not make the lead peloton. He won't be getting that green jersey back.
Shaded by the palm trees, Phinney hammers into the coastal town. It's now 35" for the American, can that be right?
There is only one team that is chasing seriously, and that's Cannondale. Orica is waiting to lead Goss out. The only other teams - Garmin-Sharp and Optum - have GC concerns but no sprinters. Sky has one man with Wiggins.
Orica pitches in here and there, but Cannondale is really doing the work here. Phinney is totally committed and looking strong. He certainly can time trial well, so he might make this work.
Phinney won his first mass-start road race in the Tour of Poland last year, and he's looking pretty solid for another win.
Orica and Cannondale just do not look that peppy - Phinney is up to 40 seconds ahead. That's remarkable!
Phinney is heading up a small hill, he's got some enthusiastic fans running alongside cheering him on. Attack from Lucas Euser from the peloton.
The peloton is really disorganized now, Cannondale has to be demoralized - they worked so hard only to get jumped by a Pro Conti rider.
Phinney has just 5.4km to go. A former world individual pursuit champion, he's familiar with that length of effort. But Euser's attack has angered the field, they've closed down the gap to 25 seconds.
Euser was caught and now Orica is putting some pressure on that throttle.
Phinney can see the ocean, it's cooling breeze is going away from him, however. He still has 3.7km to go and 25 seconds. It's going to be close!
For the second stage in a row the tailwind is favoring the breakaway, but can this lone leader hold off a 30-strong chase group?
Phinney is caked with salt, putting a huge number of watts out but still going strong.
The gloves are off, literally. Phinney's bare hands draped over the bars, he's inside 1km to go - where is the field?
The sprinters are going to be so pissed if they miss this chance again.
The 10-wide peloton is your answer. Phinney has this - he just needs to seal the deal in these last 400m.
I cannot believe that downhill attack actually worked! He took a bow and raises the two arm salute. Phinney winney!
Sagan gets second from the field and Goss behind.
That was certainly a bow-worthy performance by Taylor Phinney. Wiggins was happy to let him go, and he keeps that yellow jersey going into tomorrow's critical stage.
Tomorrow is the 156km stage finishing on Mountain High, and will be a real GC battle. But this one was all Taylor Phinney, congratulations to him.
Your top 10:
1Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team3:59:33
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale0:00:12
3Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:00:12
4Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing0:00:12
5Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:00:12
6Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:12
7Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano0:00:12
8Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:12
9Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura0:00:12
10Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura0:00:12
General classification after stage 5
1Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 17:53:36
2Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp0:00:28
3Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura0:01:09
General classification after stage 5
1Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 17:53:36
2Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp0:00:28
3Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura0:01:09
4Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano0:01:25
5Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge0:02:14
6Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team0:02:28
7Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing0:02:29
8Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies0:02:31
9Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:02:33
10Javier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Garmin Sharp0:02:34
Whew! That was a really exciting finish to what should have been a sprint. Thank you for reading, we hope for some more fireworks tomorrow! Tune in at 11:30 PDT to follow all the action with Cyclingnews.