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Big Bear scares off California's sprinters

Mark Cavendish (HTC Columbia) gets back to his winning ways at California's capital building.

Mark Cavendish (HTC Columbia) gets back to his winning ways at California's capital building. (Image credit: Mark Johnson/

While the general classification riders persistently bumped up the pace on the Amgen Tour of California’s sixth stage, the sprinters were scared off at the rear of the race by a Big Bear: the climbs to Big Bear Lake to be precise. All of the big named sprinters are out of the race, including British rider Mark Cavendish and Belgian Tom Boonen.

Cervelo TestTeam hoped its sprinter Theo Bos would make it over the day’s stage, but it wasn’t to be. Team sport director Jean Paul van Poppel left a teammate with Bos for as long as possible before it became evident the rider wouldn’t last.

“Theo, I don’t think it was his day today and right from the start he was having his troubles,” said van Poppel. “We were hoping after an hour or so his legs would be better. But it didn’t go today.

“It’s the sixth stage and I think the days have taken their toll on a track rider,” he added. “I think he did well so far but there was no recovery there anymore and I think he had to give up. Dominique Rollin did a great job and stayed with him but at some point he had to say goodbye and go back to the bunch.”

Saxo Bank’s Argentinean speedster Juan Jose Haedo withdrew from the event during the stage, as did Australia’s Karl Menzies from UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis.

Cavendish and HTC-Columbia teammate Mark Renshaw fought their way to the finish, only to have finished outside the time limit. Fly V Australia’s top sprinter Jonathan Cantwell suffered the same outcome after arriving at Big Bear Lake too late.

The biggest casualty on the day were local Continental teams Kelly Benefit Strategies which lost five of its riders while the SpiderTech-Planet Energy had four fail to complete the stage.