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On the startline in California

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.

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