Team Sky's Bradley Wiggins is the favourite to win the Tour of California overall title in Throusand Oaks on Sunday but it won't happen with out a fight from Garmin-Sharp and their man, Rohan Dennis. The former Tour de France winner was caught off guard on the first mountain summit but he is better prepared to handle the inevitable attacks during the sixth stage atop Mountain High North on Friday.
After winning the Stage 2 time trial in Folsom, Wiggins went into the Stage 3 summit on Mount Diablo with a 44-second advantage to Dennis. A strong attack from the Australian saw him win the stage and take back almost half that time. The outcome on the first summit stage forced Team Sky to revisit their tactics ahead of the second summit finish on Mountain High North.
"The whole team did a really great effort," Team Sky's director Kurt-Asle Arvesen told Cyclingnews. "We're really happy to still be in yellow. We knew that Bradley was going to be left alone on Mount Diablo, so he was prepared. We knew Rohan would be strong but we didn't expect him to be that strong, so that was a surprise. Now we know and we're even more prepared for the next mountain day.
"It's always sad to lose time, though, but Wiggins is still in a comfortable lead. There's one minute back to third place, so there is only one guy we really need to watch, more or less. We will take it day-by-day and Wiggins is feeling good."
Stage 6 begins in Santa Clarita and travels 151.8km to the summit of Mountain High North. With nearly 12,000ft of climbing, this might be one of the last chances for the climbers to make gains on one another in the overall classification, and Team Sky will be ready for the attacks against Wiggins.
"Mountain High is a totally different type of climb than Diablo," Arvesen said. "It's longer and less steep. The last two kilometers are really steep, once we turn off of the big road it kicks up, so that's where we will need to be ready."
Wiggins added that, "Mountain High is different than Diablo but there will be a similar pattern to the racing. We'll be a week into racing by then, so it will have some different challenges. The altitude will play a factor there because we'll be finishing at over 2,000 meters. It might be cooler but it will be another tough day."
If Mount Diablo showed a preview of what to expect on Mountain High North, Wiggins and his teammates will need to feild attacks coming from riders like Dennis and Janier Acevedo (Garmin-Sharp), Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) and Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano), who are third and fourth placed in the overall, along with Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) Carter Jones (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Startegies), David de la Cruz (NetApp-Endura), Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing), who were all present during the last kilometers.
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