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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 8 at the Amgen Tour of California.
It’s another gorgeous day in California for the start of the final stage of the Tour of California in San Francisco. It’s windless and sunny, and there is a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also an early start, 8:15 am so the riders looked half asleep as they sipped their coffee in the athlete’s lounge earlier.
The riders are all lined up at the start.
They’ll wake up soon enough because today’s stage is expected to be a fast one, traveling along the Pacific shores on CA 1 before finishing on circuits in the lovely city of Santa Rosa.
It's two minutes to neutral start. The riders will head out on the new section of road that replaced the Doyle Drive elevated highway. It was torn down because it was seismically unstable.
The peloton will cross the Golden Gate Bridge for the neutral start.
The bridge's surface has metal joints in between the sections of concrete slab. The race organisation has placed carpets over the joints to keep the riders safe.
And the peloton has started the neutral roll out.
Today’s stage is 131.4 kms and will be relatively flat, although CA 1 is notorious for its sweeping turns and gently rolling terrain. It can also be quite windy off the ocean, so that could play a factor today. The race includes one intermediate sprint at Pt. Reyes Station (51 kms).
To recap, BMC’s Tejay van Garderen is leading the overall classification by 1:47 minutes ahead of 2010 winner from Saxo-Tinkoff Michael Rogers. Janier Acevedo from Jamis-Hagens Berman is trailing in third place, 3:26 minutes behind.
The neutral start heads through the Presidio, which used to be a military base, but has now been taken over by a private organisation which is preserving the buildings. They've converted a lot of the quarters to rental units - the apartments range from about $2,000 upwards of $12,000 per month for the officers houses.
The riders are 3 kms in to the neutral start and heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge. There are There are about 100 to 200 or so fans on the bridge to watch the race go by, they have plenty of elbow room to take their iPhone photos.
The field passed through the new Doyle Drive tunnel which leads the riders to the bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. They closed the bridge entirely to traffic for the first time in years, and had a huge, elaborate fireworks display. They had fireworks shot from under the bridge, from the top of the towers and from the deck. It was a special event.
The locals in the know are at the bridge overlook, on the north side of the bridge on Conzelman Rd. It has the best view in all of Marin County.
Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo was at the Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary celebration and said, "We weren't going to go because it was a massive jam, but we rode our bikes over and got through it and wow, was it worth it!"
Weislo is following the race in the caravan and said that there are a lot more fans on the north side of the bridge, even the bridge authority workers in orange coveralls are watching.
RadioShack's Andy Schleck apparently didn't pay attention to the instructions to stay in the right lane that had the mats over the joints. He got a rear flat and needs a wheel change. Race officials are going to keep the race neutral for him.
Schleck is back in the race.
They're just over the bridge and will have to ride easy up the first hill and through the rainbow tunnel.
The race is on and there are many attacks happening in the first kilometre.
BMC is setting pace at the front of the field for leader van Garderen.
There is a large breakaway forming but it looks like there is little organization and it's all coming back together.
There are a lot of fans lining the road into Mill Valley - far more than were at the San Francisco start. This area is a huge cycling mecca.
It's also the birthplace of mountain biking. Gary Fisher and his pals did the first informal mountain bike race on the Repack trail way back in the 1970s.
The peloton is descending at 80km/h.
The weather is warming up, temperatures expected in the high 70s. Unlike at the Giro d’Italia’s stage 15 today, where race organizers have had to shorten the race by about 4.5 kms due to snow. The stage will now end on the Col du Galibier, before the summit at the Marco Pantani memorial.
Today's Tour of California stage 8 route will follow to the coast on the same route as the weekly local evening hammerfest. A few amateurs will be crying that their Strava KOMs will be crushed today!
Vacansoleil's Thomas de Gendt is on the attack. He's been very aggressive during this stage race and in two major breakaways this week.
Bissell's Jason McCartney and Bontrager's Antoine Duchesne have joined De Gendt off the front.
Here's a fact for you, Jason McCartney is the only rider to have started every single stage of the Amgen Tour of California since 2006.
Read Cyclingnews' Pat Malach's story here.
The breakaway is heading up a climb and they will descend on a newly paved section of the course, very nice.
When they crest the climb they get a grand view of the Pacific Ocean for a brief moment, then twist and turn down to the bottom. They're still on the climb now with a 40-second gap.
McCartney, Duchesne and De Gendt have almost a minute on the peloton.
Today's stage will finish on two circuits in Santa Rosa. The circuits are 4 kms long and have 8 corners each. But there is still a lot of racing to go before then.
McCartney, Duchesne and De Gendt have crested the climb and are on the descent. They have just over a minute on the main field.
Duchesne is a young rider out of Canada racing for the Bontrager team. He won the Under 23 national road championships last year.
The breakaway is holding a gap just over a minute. The peloton behind split in two on the descent.
De Gendt, McCartney and Duchesne have increased their lead to nearly two minutes. This might be the break of the day. All three are pretty far back in the overall.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Sylvain Chavanel has dropped off the back of the peloton to take in the gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. He's now chasing back up.
Only 57 degrees here in Stinson Beach. The Bay Area is one of the few places on the planet that has microclimates. The temperature can shift from one neighborhood to the next.
Once they pass Stinson Beach they will be on the flattest section of road they've seen all day. It's very fast, and runs along the estuary where there are harbor seals and all sorts of water birds.
And the peloton is entering Stinson Beach.
There are cormorants on the sand bar of the estuary airing out their wings, and a group of fishermen competing for the birds' breakfast. And there are lots of snowy white egrets dotting the water. These are very large and beautiful birds.
The gap is holding at 2:25 minutes.
We're being warned that up ahead at kilometre 32, there has been a deer meandering in the road. I'm sure it will be frightened away when the lead cars come screaming by.
De Gendt is taking his turn on the front of the three-man breakaway. He's been very aggressive all week and in a couple of lengthy breakaways. He's a strong all-round rider, who placed 3rd overall at the Giro d'Italia last year.
The race was traveling at 52 km/h, however, the peloton stopped for a nature break and the gap to the breakaway went up to 3:30 minutes.
They are entering Dogtown, population of 30.
The breakaway riders have four minutes.
The breakaway is winding along the shore CA 1. It's not windy today along the coast as it usually is, it can get very gusty.
Cyclingnews' Pat Malach spoke with Garmin-Sharp's Jacob Rathe after yesterday's stage. He said the team would have liked to have had someone in that breakaway leading to Mt. Diablo, but the real goal was to get antoher win for Tyler Farrar today. "We're really focused on tomorrow. Really we want to save everything for tomorrow. So it's not a disappointment. "
One sprinter who is looking for a stage win is Optum Pro Cycling's Ken Hanson, who was second to Farrar in stage 4 in Santa Barbara. He's wearing his skinsuit today and his team will likely approach the finishing circuits the same way they do a typical American-style criterium.
The breakaway is 1 kms to the intermediate sprint in Pt. Reyes Station. There are tons of fans lining the streets.
The sprint was just before the Bovine Bakery, a popular rest stop for cyclists.
De Gendt picked up full points, followed by McCartney and Duchesne.
Janier Acevedo from Jamis-Hagens Berman had a good climb on Mt. Diablo yesterday. He placed second on the stage and move back into third place on the podium in the overall classification. Here's what his director, Sebastian Alexandre had to say,
"The plan was to try and move up and the team did great. We closed the gap to the break so we could contest the stage, so hats off for the guys. My guys brought the break back, so that was a great job.
"Janier is just climbing amazing. So when he attacked we knew he had to get 30 seconds to try and be on the podium at the end of the race. So that was the plan. He went full gas and he was caught by the Net App guy. I'm not sure if he was getting help from him, but Janier just went all the way in going for the podium on the GC.
"We are very happy to be here. And we would be very happy to be invited to [Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado]. The whole team did great. We rode very professionally and very strong, so we're really waiting for an invitation to those races."
There are wild turkeys on the road ahead of the breakaway.
De Gendt, Duchesne and McCartney are working very well together, each taking a turn pulling. They're gap is now up to 4:30 minutes. They are riding very hard, standing out of the saddle and punching it over each and every small climb on course.
Jason McCartney spoke with Cyclingnews' Pat Malach this morning. He spoke of some of his previous experiences at the Amgen Tour of California.
"I have been so close to winning a stage here. One year I was in the break with [Tom] Zirbel and [George Hincapie]. Hincapie won the stage because I messed up the sprint a little bit. Then there was another year when Levi [Leipheimer] caught me on the hill on Bonny Doon. I was with Tom Peterson. I was on Saxo at the time and Levi was on Astana, but basically I was going to help him win the overall and go for the stage. Then the one year where I was in the break and we got caught with 2 kms to go, but I solidified the mountains jersey."
Perhaps he will win a stage today!
McCartney is asking for his team car.
The breakaway is cruising along CA 1, the Pacific Ocean is on the left and rolling green hills are on the right.
Garmin-Sharp is on the front of the main field, setting a quick pace. Many of the teams with strong sprinters will want to throw in a rider or two to the chase if they want to ensure a bunch sprint in Santa Rosa.
De Gendt is having some problems with his gearing on a small climb. He was back speaking with the Bissell team car. His team car is not in the gap at the moment.
De Gendt is yo-yoing off the back of the breakaway trying to fix his gearing. No team car yet.
De Gendt is now speaking with his team manager. The mechanic is hanging out of the car window with a set of tools to try and adjust his gearing.
The gap is holding at 4 minutes. It looks like De Gendt might need a bike change.
De Gendt's team mechanic is getting his spare bike in order. They will likely do a quick bike change shortly.
De Gendt is off his bike and getting on the spare one.
He's back on the road again trying to catch up to McCartney and Duchesne ....
That was a very fast bike change. De Gendt is now on the back of the breakaway, his mechanic is hanging out of the car window making some small adjustments to his new bike.
The gap has dropped to 3:20 minutes.
De Gendt is back on the front of the breakaway and driving the pace.
Garmin-Sharp is doing most of the work at the front of the main field. They are passing through the feed zone.
Hi #atoc fans I'm in media 1 car. Happy to take a cappuccino hand up. Just saying.
@Laura_Weislo Sun, 19th May 2013 17:47:53
There are a mix of Garmin-Sharp, Cannondale, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Optum Pro Cycling on the front of the main field.
Up in the breakaway, U23 Canadian road champion Antoine Duchesne is driving the pace over some of the smaller rollers.
A line of BMC riders, including race leader Tejay van Garderen, are patiently sitting amongst the front end of the main field. They're happy to let the teams with strong sprinters take control of the race.
Fairly shortly, the race will enter Valley Ford and travel along Bodega Hwy. The racers will then take a left turn onto Jonive Rd, a steep climb, and a right onto Occidental Rd. They will then descend down to Fulton Rd. and head into Santa Rosa for the finishing circuits.
The gap is falling and is under 2 minutes now.
Jamis-Hagens Berman's Tyler Wren has a fan base in Occidental. There are some folks at the bottom of the Jonive Rd. climb waiting for the race to arrive. They're holding up a big sign for Tyler!
There are 15 points available for the winner of the stage. After that, it's 12 points for second place, 10 points for third ...
The sprint competition is very tight with only one point separating Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).
Sagan is leading the competition with 38 points and Farrar has 37 points.
The breakaway, and main field, are heading toward the Jonive Rd climb.
The main field is making the left turn onto Jonive Rd.
After this small climb, it's almost all downhill and fast into Santa Rosa.
There are a mix of teams on the front of the main field. Cannondale, 5-hour Energy, Saxo-Tinkoff, Omega Pharma-QuickStep are all moving to the front.
De Gendt, McCartney and Duchesne are cresting the climb on Jonive Rd.
The main peloton is starting the climb.
The breakaway is now on Occidental Rd. and headed toward Santa Rosa.
The peloton is still on the Jonive Rd. ascent.
Garmin-Sharp, BMC and Cannondale are at the front of the main field.
The three breakaway riders are not giving up. They're still rotating well together and working hard.
De Gendt, McCartney and Duchesne are descending. It's a very fast run-in to Santa Rosa. The gap is falling and is now under one minute.
Unfortunately, Tyler Wren (Jamis-Hagens Berman) just got a flat. It will be fairly difficult to catch back on to the main field on the descent down to Santa Rosa.
There are a number of strong sprinters still in the race including Sagan, Ferrar along with Thor Hushovd (BMC), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), Ken Hanson and Alex Candelario (Optum), Jake Keough and Aldo Ino Ilesic (UnitedHealthcare), Boy van Poppel and Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoileil) and more ...
De Gendt and McCartney have just sat up and they are waiting for the main field.
Duchesne is continuing on.
Duchesne is still pushing very hard on his pedals. He is in a time trial position with his arms on the handlebars. He's holding a 45-second gap.
The young Canadian, Duchesne is increasing his lead on the peloton to 55 seconds. He is about 10 kms away from the start of the finishing circuits in Santa Rosa.
De Gendt is about to get caught by the main field.
Duchesne now has one minute on the main field.
It looks like McCartney has decided to start racing again, and he is trying to catch back up to Duchesne.
Duchesne and McCartney are together again and they have a gap of 50 seconds.
McCartney is attacking Duchesne.
Duchesne is not going to let McCartney go. They are back together. The main field, however, is only 25 seconds behind the duo.
The main field is 20 seconds away from catching McCartney and Duchesne.
The peloton is turning onto the wide open boulevard heading to the finishing circuits in Santa Rosa.
McCartney and Duchesne are dangling off the front of the main field with 15 seconds.
Cannondale is leading the peloton and they are about to catch the breakaway.
McCartney and Duchesne are still attacking one another.
McCartney is back in the field. Duchesne is still off the front.
And Cannondale, and the rest of the peloton, have just caught Duchesne.
The field in all together and about to start the final two circuits of the race in Santa Rosa.
Andy Schleck just had a wheel change.
The race is inside 10 kms to go.
The peloton is on the circuits, they have 8 kms to go. Each circuit is 4 kms in length.
Cannondale is taking charge at the front of the race for Peter Sagan, the sprint leader. They are starting the first of two final circuits.
The riders are jumping over the many Bott's dots on the roads.
They are half way through the first circuit and have a total of 6 kms to go.
Cannondale is lined up at the front of the field with Sagan tucked in behind. 5 kms to go.
Garmin-Sharp is pulling alongside Cannondale with its sprinter Tyler Farrar.
They are starting the second and final circuit with 4 kms to go.
The crowds are cheering very loud, lots of fans at the finish line.
Optum Pro Cycling, and Ken Hanson, is also pulling up to the front jockeying for position with Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp.
Under 3 kms to go
2 kms to go and Garmin-Sharp have pulled into the lead of the bike race for Tyler Farrar. Cannondale is just behind but Sagan is right there.
Farrar is in third position behind his teammates at the front of the race.
Cannondale is sitting right behind Farrar. 1 km to go.
Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge are at the front. Farrar, Sagan and Matthews are about to sprint.
Sagan, Hanson and Farrar are at the front
Sagan wins the finale
BMC's Tejay van Garderen has won the overall title at the Amgen Tour of California.
The unofficial brief results for stage 8:
1. Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
2. Daniel Schorn (NetApp-Endura)
3. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp)
The unofficial brief results for the overall:
1. Tejay van Garderen (BMC)
2. Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), +1:47
3. Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), +3:26
Thank you for following along with our live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California.