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On the startline in California

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Waiting at the start

Waiting at the start
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Bradley White (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis)

Bradley White (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis)
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Riders sign on at the start

Riders sign on at the start
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia)
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Levi Leipheimer facing questions

Levi Leipheimer facing questions
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Defending champion Levi Leipheimer

Defending champion Levi Leipheimer
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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US national champion George Hincapie (BMC)

US national champion George Hincapie (BMC)
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Davide Frattini (Team Type 1)

Davide Frattini (Team Type 1)
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Fans at the start of the stage

Fans at the start of the stage
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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It must be something in the atmosphere

It must be something in the atmosphere
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) signs in

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) signs in
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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How are you going to divide that up between the entire peloton?

How are you going to divide that up between the entire peloton?
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Mark Cavendish celebrated his birthday with a cake

Mark Cavendish celebrated his birthday with a cake
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)
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Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions) keeping the white jersey warm for Sagan

Peter Stetina (Garmin-Transitions) keeping the white jersey warm for Sagan
(Image credit: Kirsten Frattini)

It’s time for the Queen stage of this year’s Amgen Tour of California. The 213.7 kilometre slog from Pasadena to Big Bear Lake holds over 10,000 feet of climbing will likely see the sprinters form a gruppetto not far from the start as the contenders for the overall wage war on the first ascent out of Pasedena.

At the start this morning there was an air of anticipation and excitement with the GC contenders waiting to show their mettle in one of the race's most crucial stages.

Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) starts the stage in the lead but will have to be wary of both Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), who sit second and third overall.

Before the riders reach the Big Bear slopes they’ll have to contend with six KOMs and two sprints en route to the mountain-top finish. The stage is net uphill, starting at a little over 3,000 feet and finishing at near 7,000 feet. And don't forget, racers already have five days of competition in their legs.