Tour of California 2015

May 10-17, 2015, Sacramento, California, Road - 2.HC

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Laura Weislo

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour of California, a short, lumpy 154km dash from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita. It should be a day for the sprinters.
 

  1. 11:51:28 AKDT

    There are four categorized climbs on the course today, three cat 4's at km. 27.5, 31.9 and 90.4, with a category 3 ascent at km. 54.4. There are two sprints at km. 51.4 and 78.1.

    The clouds have rolled into Santa Barbara, bringing much needed rain to the drought-laden state, but it will make the stage less fun for the riders. Showers are expected to be on and off today and tomorrow, but most riders are starting without their rain gear.

  2. 11:55:13 AKDT

    Riders are off for 3.7km of neutral in Santa Barbara.

  3. 12:02:12 AKDT

    The precipitation meant that the time trial, to be held 2100m up at Big Bear Lake, had to be moved down to Santa Clarita because several inches of snow are predicted in the mountains. The change from an altitude to a sea level time trial should make life easier for those riders who weren't able to acclimate to altitude before the race.

  4. 12:03:27 AKDT

    Regarding the time trial course for tomorrow, we suspect they'll use the same finish and head back and in on today's course, using the same infrastructure that is already in place, but there have been no details yet made public.

  5. 156.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:04:05 AKDT

    The riders have passed the kilometer 0 mark and are off, heading down Hermosillo Road out of Santa Barbara.

  6. 12:05:30 AKDT

    Immediately, there is action at the front, as expected. Everyone wants to get away, but look for Daniel Oss to go up the road in search of mountain points. 

  7. 12:06:08 AKDT

    The route heads out by winding up a hill through a residential area, lost of ritzy gated homes along the route.

  8. 12:07:15 AKDT

    So far no attacks have been able to stick.

  9. 12:08:11 AKDT

    Three riders have decided to take advantage of the hilly start to try and get a gap.

  10. 150.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:09:40 AKDT

    This determined trio are increasing their lead, but they have a lone pursuer. It's Danilo Wyss (BMC), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Javier Megias Leal (Novo Nordisk)
    Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), and Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling) in the lead.

  11. 12:11:09 AKDT

    Looks like Wyss is BMC's representative in the front today - taking over from Oss. Yesterday Oss had both the most courageous and mountains jerseys to wear, so he gave the most courageous to Wyss to wear.

  12. 12:12:40 AKDT

    The big news out of the Giro d'Italia today was the crash of Alberto Contador. We have the latest on his condition - a dislocated shoulder - and quotes from him here.

  13. 12:13:38 AKDT

    It seems that someone wasn't happy with the presence of Wyss, only 47 seconds down on GC, in the move. There's a vicious chase behind bringing them back.

  14. 12:16:36 AKDT

    It is not an easy route out of town toward Carpinteria, and the peloton is keeping the leaders to 20 seconds. There will be a descent coming and that will help the chase.

  15. 12:17:41 AKDT

    Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) had to stop for a wheel, and the leaders have a 35 second advantage now.

  16. 12:19:51 AKDT

    Well, it looks like someone has decided to take a gamble that Wyss will be brought back for the sprint today, and the gap has blown out to 1:30.

  17. 12:22:46 AKDT

    The peloton has given the international signal for letting the breakaway go - the mass nature break. The gap will shoot up now.

  18. 12:26:07 AKDT

    BMC's strategy might be for the mountains jersey: none of the riders in the break have any KOM points. There are 18 on offer today. Oss leads by one point over the race leader Toms Skujins (Hincapie), with a total of 33 points.

    By mopping up the points, Oss will get to keep the lead for another day. There are 28 on tap on Saturday and that's it for mountains. If Wyss gets all the KOMs today, they could send either rider in the break and still win the mountains classification on Saturday, even if they are caught before Mt. Baldy.

  19. 140.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:27:29 AKDT

    The gap is levelling off at 2:40, and it looks like we're in for another formulaic stage where the sprinters reel in the breakaway at the last minute. The only thing that can disrupt that plan is a beef between Hincapie, Etixx and the other teams - one that has been brewing since few others have contributed to the chasing this week.

  20. 12:29:43 AKDT

    It's great to see Novo Nordisk involved in the break today. They've been shut out of them so far. The team of all Type 1 diabetics are a young team, fighting their disease in addition to trying to succeed as professional athletes.

    Spaniard David Lozano spoke to Cyclingnews this morning: "The main goal for us is to put someone in the break. If it's Javier it's much better because he's one of the best climbers on the team. We are trying to fight a little bit more today to get into the break because previous days we were attacking but had no luck to get in there. We keep fighting."

  21. 137.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:31:02 AKDT

    The leaders are hurtling through the foothills, diving into the twists and curves in the road, fighting for more time. They're up to 3:00 20km into the stage.

  22. 12:34:28 AKDT

    Maybe we're good guessers, maybe we're smart, but we also spoke to Lachlan Morton before the stage today, and he said he wanted to be in the move today.

    "Hopefully we'll put somebody in the break away and give it a crack," he said.

    He's down 16:09 on the GC now, but still has his eyes on the Mt. Baldy stage.

    "I'm not sure in the condition to fight for the win just yet but I'm going to give it a shot. It's a stage that suits me so we will see what happens."
     

  23. 12:37:28 AKDT

    The breakaway are starting their gradual ascent toward the first category 4 climb on CA 150, it kicks up a bit steeper toward the top.

  24. 12:39:15 AKDT

    The Hincapie leader of Toms Skujins is having to control the race again today. These young riders are surely getting a good workout.

  25. 12:43:39 AKDT

    The leaders are on the first KOM, about 1km to go, with a 3:10 advantage. 

  26. 130.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:46:00 AKDT

    500m to the KOM now for our leaders, and their gap has gone down under three minutes. Looks like Hincapie will be able to keep it under control

  27. 12:47:41 AKDT

    The leaders are through the KOM - results to follow shortly.

    So today's course is the exact same route from Santa Barbara used in 2008, when Mark Cavendish won the sprint into Santa Clarita, coming back from a crash with 8km to go. But the judged ruled he'd gotten too much help from his team car during the chase back, and disqualified him. The victory went to Saunier Duval-Scott's Luciano Pagliarini.
     

  28. 12:48:56 AKDT

    It was the year after Levi Leipheimer was held up by a massive crash outside the 3km to go mark in his home town of Santa Rosa. The judges ruled that because the crash was so big and blocked the entire road, that they would neutralize the stage for GC and keep him in the yellow jersey.

    Cavendish was still new and brash in 2008, and he dropped multiple F-bombs when speaking to the press. "When you have every car in the peloton dropping back to get me on... like it has been in professional cycling for a hundred years... who is working on the jury here? What are you going to do, make it a f**cking crit every day? So now next year they are going to make it a criterium every day!"

    He's quite a bit more polished these days, but we'd hazard you might get a curse word or two out of him if he gets disqualified again today.
     

  29. 129.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:50:19 AKDT

    • Climb

    The leaders drop like hawks after a bunny down the KOM, where Wyss took the top points over Howes.

    KOM 1:

    1. Danilo Wyss (BMC)
    2. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin)
    3. Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling)
    4. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis)

  30. 12:52:04 AKDT

    And now, they head straight back up for the second KOM of the day.

    So if Wyss wins all of the mountain sprints today, he'll have 18 points. On Saturday, he could go in the break and take the two cat 2's and gain 16, putting him in the polka dot jersey. Maybe Oss is tired after two days in the breakaway and another late attack yesterday, and BMC want to hedge their bets for Saturday.

  31. 12:53:56 AKDT

    Certainly Skujins isn't wasting his time going after points, and the next riders in the mountains classification, Evan Huffman and Jonny Clarke, have 13 points only. Even if they got in the break on Saturday they'd have to stay with the leaders on Baldy and get in the points to take over - it's 8, 8 and 12 at the finish. Win-win for BMC.

  32. 12:56:07 AKDT

    In case you missed it, there was a nasty crash in the Giro d'Italia today that took down Alberto Contador. It was caused by a specator with a long-lens camera sticking it out into the path of Nippo's Daniele Colli.

    The camera's impact snapped his left upper arm bone in two, in a truly horrifying fashion. We send our best wishes to Colli that he makes a fast recovery. Ouch.

  33. 124.7km remaining from 157.7km

    12:58:16 AKDT

    • Climb

    Wyss took out the next KOM as we expected.

    KOM 2:
    1. Danilo Wyss (BMC)
    2. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis)
    3. Javier Megias Leal (Novo Nordisk)
    4. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin)

  34. 13:01:51 AKDT

    Colli sent out a message to his fans, reassuring them that he is OK: "I remember being struck by something while I was in full sprint, and then I was on the ground with my arm turned upside down. I was really scared because I couldn't feel my arm."

    After having the arm set, he'll now face a surgery to repair the break, but should make a full recovery. He had no other serious injuries. Phew.

  35. 13:02:57 AKDT

    Let that be a lesson to all cycling fans, even those who consider themselves seasoned spectators! GIVE THE RIDERS ROOM. They aren't looking at you or anticipating what you might do, they're busy with the very engrossing task of racing their bikes.

  36. 119.7km remaining from 157.7km

    13:06:56 AKDT

    The riders are now 38km into the stage and have been racing almost an hour. They'll have an intermediate sprint with time bonuses at km 51, but other than that it's status quo.

    Wyss could get 6 seconds of bonuses, a mere drop in the bucket to threaten Skujins. Unless BMC have something crafty up their sleeves, we doubt they're wanting to pull a fast one today.

     

  37. 13:08:36 AKDT

    The rain seems to be holding off for the race today - there are some scattered light showers to the north, but the real precipitation is off to the southwest and down in LA - and up in Big Bear Lake, of course.

  38. 13:10:41 AKDT

    The moisture seems to be helping the hillsides here in Ventura county, where the hills are a bit greener than what we saw up near Avila Beach yesterday.

  39. 13:11:07 AKDT

    The flora must be sucking the moisture from the clouds that are hanging low over the gently rolling hills.

  40. 111.7km remaining from 157.7km

    13:17:04 AKDT

    5km to the sprint for our leaders, with 3:20 on the field.

    We've gotten the scoop on the ITT course for tomorrow that was relocated from Big Bear Lake because of predicted snow.

    It will be an out-and-back 10.6km course, mostly flat, along the frontage road along Interstate 5 down into the Magic Mountain theme park.

  41. 106.3km remaining from 157.7km

    13:24:35 AKDT

    There's a big crowd in Ojai for the sprint.

  42. 13:26:54 AKDT

    • Break

    Wyss didn't put up a fight for the sprint, and it was taken by Howes. Right after the sprint they hit 5km to the next KOM.

    Sprint 1:
    1. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin)
    2. Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling)
    3. Danilo Wyss (BMC)
     

     

  43. 13:28:10 AKDT

    We're hearing there might be some rain on the climb up ahead. It's not terribly heavy - shouldn't cause too much grief for the riders.

    Hincapie are keeping the gap pegged at 3:00.

  44. 13:32:23 AKDT

    The details on tomorrow's time trial are up now - because we're multitasking - with a map and profile. Both men and women will use the same 10.6km course.

  45. 13:33:39 AKDT

    Stay tuned to Cyclingnews, we asked riders at the start what they thought about the change to the TT, how it would impact the race, and whether this move by the race organization signals a softening of attitudes toward their safety.

    The full story will be forthcoming later this afternoon.

  46. 13:35:07 AKDT

    • Break

    The breakaway's lead is diminishing on this category 3 ascent. 1km to the KOM and dropping, now 2:15 for the leaders.

  47. 100km remaining from 157.7km

    13:35:54 AKDT

    The rain has held off for the leaders as they crest the KOM.

  48. 13:38:42 AKDT

    • Climb

    The descent is not much to speak of, the respite is very brief, and then the leaders face a false-flat/climb for another 6km or so.

    Wyss must have run out of steam, he didn't get that sprint.

    KOM 3:
    1. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis)
    2. Javier Megias Leal (Novo Nordisk)
    3. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin)
    4. Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling)
    5. Danilo Wyss (BMC)

  49. 96.7km remaining from 157.7km

    13:44:00 AKDT

    Looks like there are some showers at the finish line of today's stage - wet roads won't be a problem for today's finish though. It's not technical and the roads are very wide.

    There are some very light sprinkles hitting the media car behind the breakaway now.

  50. 13:46:04 AKDT

    Back in the field, the rain jacket distribution has begun, as the rain is coming from behind the race. There's some more steady rain sweeping up from the southwest, but the really heavy stuff seems to be staying back in LA.

  51. 13:49:13 AKDT

    Back in the bunch, Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) has to get a puncture fixed. They're descending on wet roads - nothing too gnarly, but it's 16km of downhill to the next sprint.

    The rain after a long dry spell can make for some greasy roads. We hope they all stay upright. No more compound fractures - one is enough for one day!

  52. 13:50:12 AKDT

    Looks like we spoke a little too soon about the hard rain staying in LA. The leaders are getting a heavy rainfall now and the temperature has gone down to 56F. Brr.

  53. 13:52:09 AKDT

    Luckily it was just a brief shower - the rain would make for  miserable TV pictures. The leaders want to be able to display their sponsor names and not have them obscured by rain gear.

  54. 87.7km remaining from 157.7km

    13:54:36 AKDT

    The field are now passing through that rain band, about 2km behind the breakaway.  The gap is holding steady around 2:30 as they negotiate this long, gradual descent.

  55. 84.6km remaining from 157.7km

    13:58:17 AKDT

    5km to the second intermediate sprint in Santa Paula. We're almost halfway through and it looks like there will be a bunch sprint today.

    Peter Sagan finally got his stage win in Avila Beach yesterday, and bouyed by that success will be looking to take another today.

  56. 13:59:46 AKDT

    Cyclingnews spoke to Phil Deignan (Sky) today about his role in the team, which is to keep an eye on the early breakaways and help the guys at the end of the stage.

    "it looks simple enough in paper but the weather conditions here don't look great," he said about today's stage. "Hopefully it's all about not losing time for Sergio [Henao] and Pete [Kennaugh]."

  57. 14:04:52 AKDT

    The leaders have eschewed the rain jackets and made it down safely to the sprint, where Wyss went across first.

    Sprint 2:
    1. Danilo Wyss (BMC)
    2. Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin)
    3. Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling)

  58. 14:07:09 AKDT

    The peloton are taking the turns gingerly, the Etixx team now helping out at the front with Hincapie and Tinkoff. Drapac are up front too, and they'll be hoping to get Wippert a win today. He was so close yesterday but just not powerful enough on the uphill finish to top Sagan. Today's finish should suit him perfectly.

  59. 14:11:04 AKDT

    It looks like the roads are wet but it's not raining terribly hard on the race right now as they head back into the hills with a sharp, painful climb up Balcom Canyon ahead. It's not a big climb, but it's going to sting. That comes in about 8km.

  60. 14:12:08 AKDT

    The race looks a lot like the last year it took place in February and the miserable cold rains punished riders from NorCal all the way down the coast. Riders still are using the same dull grey rain jackets.

  61. 14:13:08 AKDT

    There's an issue for Toms Skujins, who came to the front to let people know he needed to stop. Maybe it was a nature break or maybe a flat - but he signalled he needed them to not be jerks and attack him. Very poor form to try and flick the race leader, especially when his team's been working hard for two days.

  62. 67.5km remaining from 157.7km

    14:16:16 AKDT

    Jay McCarthy is having a snack up front as the gap to the breakaway hovers at 2:15. Skujins makes his way back through the peloton after stopping.

  63. 14:17:21 AKDT

    The leaders are on the final KOM of the day, with Megias and Morton pulling off to let Wyss come through.

  64. 14:18:28 AKDT

    They're keeping a steady tempo in the break, no sense of urgency yet. They're pretty much resigned to being caught somewhere along CA-26 on the way into Santa Clarita.

    The race will be pushed along by a tailwind after they pass the final KOM.

  65. 14:21:16 AKDT

    The rain is gone now as the breakaway take on the Balcom Canyon road climb.

  66. 14:22:49 AKDT

    Word is there's been a crash in the field, but no further information. Most of the peloton looked to be present.

    Up ahead, they're on the steep part of the climb and Megias is going for the points.

  67. 14:23:50 AKDT

    Back in the field a Smartstop rider - Chris Butler - has gone on the attack.

  68. 14:24:41 AKDT

    The field isn't responding to Butler. In the break, they're still going up up up - Morton is in the lead now with Curran, Howes behind. 

  69. 14:25:10 AKDT

    Plenty of fans on the climb, which seems to go on forever for a cat 4 climb. They can see the banner in the distance.

  70. 63.6km remaining from 157.7km

    14:25:44 AKDT

    The rain is falling again as they head downhill - it's a long, fast descent. Be careful, boys!

  71. 14:26:35 AKDT

    Butler is making up ground on the breakaway, and just about to the top of the climb. So far no response from the field.

  72. 14:29:29 AKDT

    Skujins, Sagan and Cavendish are all moving to the front for the descent, as is Robert Gesink.

    Gesink hasn't been well known for his descending prowess, but he's made great improvements since he basically lost Paris-Nice to Davide Rebellin on the penultimate stage because of the descent.

  73. 60km remaining from 157.7km

    14:31:26 AKDT

    The descent isn't too bad, but the roads are soaking wet. There are some unclassified climbs ahead, then another descent with 40km to go that's longer.

  74. 14:32:03 AKDT

    Butler is now 1:35 behind the leaders, with the peloton at 2:10. He's mashing an enormous gear.

  75. 14:32:47 AKDT

    Megias seems to be coming unhinged from the breakaway, possibly didn't enjoy the descent or went to the team car. He's back on.

  76. 14:34:37 AKDT

    Butler is doing a one-against-five time trial and it's not quite working out for him. A moto comes by and he looks back to see if that's the peloton, but it's not. They're about 45 seconds behind him.

  77. 55km remaining from 157.7km

    14:38:10 AKDT

    Danilo Wyss is still the virtual race leader, with the peloton sitting at 2:15 and holding. That should change when they start heading due east and are helped along by that cross-tailwind.

  78. 14:39:27 AKDT

    The approach to Santa Clarita is wide open, no shelter from the wind at all. If the wind turns into more cross- than tail-wind, there could be a team trying to shatter the bunch into echelons.

    Tinkoff tried it on yesterday's stage, but Etixx was right on the move, with Cavendish sending a clear message he wasn't going to put up with such nonsense.

  79. 14:41:01 AKDT

    Butlier is losing ground on the peloton, led by Hincapie and going through more light showers. They can see him up the road as he heads up one of the unclassified climbs.

  80. 14:43:32 AKDT

    I have to correct a mistake I made earlier, Skujins leads the mountains classification with 33 points, one ahead of Oss, with 32.

    But Oss still gets to wear polka dots for the next two days as Wyss has not overtaken him, unless Skujins loses the overall race lead.

    That seems unlikely today because the Hincapie team is impressively strong for a Continental outfit. They're well drilled by Thomas Craven.

  81. 52km remaining from 157.7km

    14:44:30 AKDT

    Butler closed in on the break thanks to the climbs, but he's a rabbit for the peloton - the gap now 1:00 to Butler and 1:30 to the field.

  82. 14:45:58 AKDT

    Morton has his arms draped over the bars, head down, as if in prayer - praying for the pain to end? Praying for the rain to stop? He got that wish.

  83. 49km remaining from 157.7km

    14:48:05 AKDT

    They've got one more little unclassified climb, which the leaders are ascending, and then they drop down, twisting and turning, to the major east/west roads. Butler at 50", the bunch at 1:25.

  84. 14:49:43 AKDT

    Wyss is sporting a perfect 5 O'Clock shadow, the kind so popular in the peloton these days. Few are sporting the full on beards like Luca Paolini and Simon Geschke, but the perfectly trimmed stubble is popular. There has to be some kind of implement they use to keep it that way. 

  85. 14:50:09 AKDT

    Well well! Butler defied the time gaps and used that hill to bridge up to the breakaway.

  86. 14:50:54 AKDT

     Butler has made it past the team cars, which are being held back, and is now pursuing the neutral support and race official cars. Just 50m to go.

  87. 47km remaining from 157.7km

    14:51:36 AKDT

    Butler is climbing like a beast, just about to tack onto the wheel of Megias with 47km to go.

  88. 14:52:23 AKDT

    Now that Butler is here, Howes goes to the Cannondale car for some food and a chat.

  89. 14:53:44 AKDT

    We doubt that Butler would have been sent up the road bike director Mike Creed without a good reason. Maybe it's just a sponsor show, but Creed sends people ahead to scout conditions, so we wonder if there's going to be an echelon throw-down in the crosswinds on CA-126?

  90. 14:54:54 AKDT

    These directors don't operate in a vacuum, they talk to each other and while some plans are kept secret, there are often handshake deals made at the start or along the way.

    The peloton are not reacting at the moment, allowing the gap to go to 1:45 as dark, dark clouds loom behind.

  91. 14:55:42 AKDT

    Skujins is showing the race leader's jersey front and center of the bunch, as if to say "I'm ready for anything. Bring it".

  92. 14:56:22 AKDT

    The breakaway are now going down the long, damp descent - Morton looks considerably more comfortable on it than Butler or Megias.

  93. 14:58:14 AKDT

    The peloton are taking the descent delicately, with Etixx coming to the fore.

    Butler is having to chase back on after losing touch - he's with Megias.

    Butler had a bad crash in the 2010 Giro d'Italia and broke his pelvis, so perhaps he isn't too comfortable descending in the wet.

  94. 14:59:13 AKDT

    Sorry, Butler's crash was in 2011. Morton, Howes and Wyss have a gap on Butler and Megias, but they should get back on.

  95. 15:00:14 AKDT

    Morton is just behind the front three, with Butler and Megias chasing - Curran looks back to check on their status. They'll need all six if they want to have a hope in the world of staying clear.

  96. 15:00:55 AKDT

    Etixx has now lined the peloton out, washing the Trek riders away. They're enjoying a small draft off the TV moto.

  97. 39.5km remaining from 157.7km

    15:02:44 AKDT

    Hincapie is back on the front of the peloton, and Morton, Butler and Megias are not quite back in the breakaway.

  98. 15:03:41 AKDT

    The breakaway has now made the turn toward Santa Clarita, they've got a long straight road through orchards and the pace is picking up. The bunch are single file behind. Things are about to heat up.

  99. 15:04:24 AKDT

    It's still spitting rain as the three dropped riders in the breakaway are now chasing together at 35 seconds, with the peloton at 2:00.

  100. 15:06:39 AKDT

    Tinkoff-Saxo has sent a token rider to the front of the field, finally. It's Hernandez again, looking to hone that Tour de France form.

    We hope he'll be racing for Alberto Contador, who had a crash in the finale of today's Giro stage. You can read all about that here.

  101. 33.6km remaining from 157.7km

    15:10:32 AKDT

    Although the peloton are lined out, there doesn't seem to be any movement whatsoever in the gap, but there are still 33km to deal with. No sign of any echelons - just single-file flat out chasing.

  102. 15:11:11 AKDT

    The leaders are passing what appears to be a prickly pear farm, or just a line of them along the road. Let's hope nobody crashes into those spiny cacti.

  103. 15:11:50 AKDT

    The Hincapie team are having to go back to the front to chase, as Wyss continues to threaten Skujins' yellow jersey.

  104. 15:13:17 AKDT

    What has Jens Voigt gotten up to since he retired? You can see our video interview with him here.

  105. 15:15:49 AKDT

    It's almost sunny for the ridrs now, as Megias and Morton are swept up by the peloton

  106. 29km remaining from 157.7km

    15:17:23 AKDT

    The roads at the finish have dried out after the rain shower, but it's pretty breezy.

    With Butler chasing alone, the trio up front are now three against three as only a few riders are chasing.

  107. 15:18:48 AKDT

    The peloton are making a hard left turn as they begin the short weave between Gulberson Road and CA-126. Once they get on the wide open highway we expect the gaps to fall quickly.

  108. 15:20:04 AKDT

    The time board motorcycle almost gets pushed off the road as the peloton takes another right hand turn - they wont' like what they saw - gap is still 2:10.

    Rain is coming down heavily at the finish now.

  109. 15:21:01 AKDT

    They're on CA-126 now with 25.3km to go for the breakaway, and while it's not completely flat, they'll be helped along by a tailwind. The peloton are chasing in earnest now.

  110. 25km remaining from 157.7km

    15:24:09 AKDT

    Australian Joe, Joe Lewis (Hincapie) is hammering now on the front of the bunch. He's got Australian Joe (Schmalz) in the same team for help. Skujins is tucked in behind his team as all the big names are waiting to make their move at the end. Once the gap is back to around a minute, we expect Hincapie to pull off and yield to the team of the sprinters, Etixx, Tinkoff and Drapac.

    Although Trek have Van Poppel here, they haven't been doing much work, and since MTN-Qhubeka haven't been able to get it together yet, they've been reluctant to invest much into chasing.

  111. 21.8km remaining from 157.7km

    15:25:11 AKDT

    The race is heading down this five-lane highway, taking up most of the road with oncoming traffic reduced to one lane. The wet roads are kicking up a lot of spray.

  112. 15:26:29 AKDT

    Sagan's points jersey is looking less than fresh as he hasn't taken a rain jacket. It's really coming down buckets now, and the gap to the leaders stands at 1:50.

  113. 20km remaining from 157.7km

    15:27:53 AKDT

    Giant-Alpecin are tucking in behind Tinkoff, who've taken the front with Etixx and Hincapie.

    The gap to the trio up front is falling now at 1:40 with 20km to go. The peloton is a smear of grey and bright colors, with only the flash of the camera distinct.

  114. 15:30:03 AKDT

    Curran's neon Cipollini bike is a real stand-out in the heavy rain. The three are working well together, Howes seems happy to do much of the work, maybe just to get the stage over with.

    1:25 for the trio now.

  115. 15:32:49 AKDT

    We all know that Sagan is a great bike handler, and is good in the wet - his first win of this year (and his only one until yesterday) - came in a rainy stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

    But the finish here isn't very technical and he won't be able to use his cornering to get an advantage except for one turn with about 700m to go.

    Bets are on Cavendish - he's clearly the fastest sprinter here. But the wet roads can create havoc and crashes... let's not think about it.

  116. 16.3km remaining from 157.7km

    15:33:24 AKDT

    Just over 10 miles to go and now 1:20 - the SmartStop team has pushed its way onto the tail of Etixx.

  117. 14.5km remaining from 157.7km

    15:36:15 AKDT

    At just under 15km to go, the gap is at one minute even. The Hincapie team are now relieved of responsibility and Etixx are taking control to make sure the catch is timed just right.

  118. 12.3km remaining from 157.7km

    15:37:47 AKDT

    Drapac are now pulling at the front - they want Wippert to win today. He's been knocking at the door. Gap at 1:05.

  119. 15:38:32 AKDT

    Wyss is still our virtual race leader, and he's keeping the breakaway rolling along. The break have to have a tailwind. They're holding the gap at one minute.

  120. 15:39:22 AKDT

    Team Sky are now pushing ahead, a Hincapie rider still hammering, that looks like Carpenter's style. He's narrowed the gap to 50 seconds.

  121. 10.6km remaining from 157.7km

    15:40:03 AKDT

    Danny Pate is putting a no-nonsense pace at the front.

  122. 15:41:39 AKDT

    Curran is riding like a WorldTour rider, but he's just 19, the youngest in the race.

    The cars have been pulled out, the gap down to 40 seconds, and Wyss is seeing that yellow jersey slip away.

  123. 8.3km remaining from 157.7km

    15:42:35 AKDT

    Wyss can thank Danny Pate for relieving him of the chance to lead the Tour of California. The American pulls off, letting the sprinters' teams come through and finish off the job. 8km to go.

  124. 15:43:05 AKDT

    The race is barely visible in the overhead shots, as the rain is coming down hard on the final kilometers of this race.

  125. 7.4km remaining from 157.7km

    15:44:04 AKDT

    Etixx pulls through and brings the gap to 30 seconds with just over 7km to go. They might only get caught in the final kilometer.

  126. 15:44:50 AKDT

    Drapac, Etixx and Tinkoff are controlling the race, but Trek are starting to form on the outside. No sign of MTN-Qhubeka, their train is without an engine perhaps.

  127. 15:44:58 AKDT

    CRASH.

  128. 15:45:30 AKDT

    Looks like UHC, Optum, Drapac, Smartstop all on the deck. It was on the left side, mid-pack.

  129. 5.6km remaining from 157.7km

    15:46:16 AKDT

    You think you're safe riding on the outside of the pack, but the dominoes fall to the side sometimes.

    Wyss has attacked the break as the gap is only 20 seconds.

  130. 15:46:52 AKDT

    Wyss is now solo and Howes and Curran are being caught by the motorcycles leading the peloton. 15" only with 5km to go. Touch and go!

  131. 15:47:16 AKDT

    It's a slight rise for Wyss and Howes is gone but Curran continues to chase, the peloton hot on his heels.

  132. 15:47:30 AKDT

    Howes is caught, 4.6km to go.

  133. 4.5km remaining from 157.7km

    15:48:13 AKDT

    Still pounding down rain as Wyss comes under  4k to go. Only an individual pursuit now...

  134. 15:48:29 AKDT

    Sweeting has dropped out after the crash.

  135. 15:48:53 AKDT

    The peloton have four lanes of road to work with and are spread out. A fan is on a bike path trying to keep up

  136. 3.2km remaining from 157.7km

    15:49:15 AKDT

    Wyss sees the peloton and it's over. 3200m to go.

  137. 15:50:10 AKDT

    The reduced peloton are swarming, Trek, Tinkoff, Novo Nordisk, UHC and Etixx at the front. Oh lo! There is MTN-Qhubeka on the right. Giant Alpecin in the middle. No sign of Hincapie, we hope Skujins is in there.

  138. 15:50:40 AKDT

    Lotto Nl at the front with 2km to go.

  139. 15:51:12 AKDT

    Prettu sure Skujins is mid-pack, but not confirmed. Tinkoff has control now as Drapac can't get the wheels.

  140. 15:51:27 AKDT

    One more turn...

  141. 1km remaining from 157.7km

    15:51:48 AKDT

    1km to go, and Etixx has lost Cavendish, where did he go?

  142. 15:52:05 AKDT

    The Drapac team has the front in the last turn. Drag race time!

  143. 15:52:25 AKDT

    Sagan hiding behind the red jersey, with Sagan on his wheel. There goes Wippert

  144. 15:52:46 AKDT

    Cavendish goes off the wheel of a Giant rider and Sagan tries to get on terms.

  145. 15:53:00 AKDT

    There's no chance. Cavendish gets stage win number three!

  146. 15:54:02 AKDT

    Cavendish thanks his teammates, including best young rider Alaphilippe.

  147. 15:54:40 AKDT

    Cavendish is so good at hiding on the wheels - he only hit the wind for 200m, and the only 200m that counted.

  148. 15:55:09 AKDT

    Zico Waeytens was the Giant rider in second, with Sagan, Drucker and Van Poppel behind.

  149. 15:56:27 AKDT

    Skujins was definitely in that bunch, and so keeps the race lead.

  150. 15:59:38 AKDT

    Stage results
    1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step
    2 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
    3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
    4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
    5 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
    6 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
    7 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
    8 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka
    9 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
    10 Justin Oien (USA) Axeon Cycling

  151. 16:04:12 AKDT

    Sagan keeps second overall behind Skujins, but if the flash results are accurate, Rob Britton has lost ground. The crash happened outside the 3km to go mark.

    Jaramillo was also not shown in the top 10, and Dion Smith moved up.

    We'll confirm the GC later. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com.

    Thanks for reading!

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