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Tour of California 2011: Stage 2


Hello, and welcome to stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California! Racing will commence today at 12:15pm PDT.

For the second year in a row the first action of the race will take the peloton from Nevada City to Sacramento, although this was hardly the original intent.

The race organisation went to plan B for stage 1, which entailed a shortened, 80km stage starting later in the day from South Lake Tahoe to the finish in North Lake Tahoe, but that, too, was cancelled due to snowy weather creating dangerous conditions on the road.

The original route of today's second stage would have taken the peloton 214.4km from North Lake Tahoe-Squaw Valley to Sacramento, via the Donner Pass early in the stage, but again, snow had created adverse weather conditions rendering Donner Pass un-passable.

Anyway, the original route took the peloton through Nevada City after 98km of racing, but due to the adverse weather the stage will actually start there instead and follow the remainder of the planned route to Sacramento.

It's approximately 113km from Nevada City to California's state capitol where the peloton will conclude the day's racing on a 3.2km finishing circuit, which will be negotiated three times for a total stage distance of 122.8km.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo is in the race caravan and relates that the crowds are really rather amazing for a last-minute change of venues for the start.

And.....we're racing! The Amgen Tour of California is in action!

The peloton is rolling past Scotten School with plenty of children out showing their support for the race.

And we now have an attack. Three riders have a slight advantage. Hopefully we'll have names for you shortly.

117km remaining from 122km

While there was a touch of rain at the start, the sun has appeared!

Today should be a day for the peloton's sprinters as the parcours primarily descends for the early portion of the stage and flattens out all the way through to the finish in Sacramento.

Still no word on who's up the road, but they're advantage is currently 10 seconds on the peloton.

Well, sorry that we couldn't provide who was on the attack, but their stint off the front is now over. The peloton is back together.

Keeping with the theme of a predominantly downhill opening sector, the peloton is now bombing down a twisting descent.

Three riders now have a 20 second lead.
Laszlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) and Timon Seubert (Team Netapp) are up there, and we're waiting for the ID of the third.

105km remaining from 122km

James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) is the third rider up the road along with Bodrogi and Seubert.

But with flat, wide-open roads the peloton is bringing them back. Lead down to 10 seconds.

More riders are on the attack from the peloton, trying to bridge across. It's been very active thus far.

The peloton is now descending again and there's a great view up ahead, almost to Sacramento.

Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) is nearly across to the break.

The break's being kept on a short leash at the moment. Lots of fresh legs here.

We now have a four man break: Laszlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Timon Seubert (Team Netapp), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) have a 15-second advantage.

So, if the peloton arrives en masse at the finish who are the likely contenders for victory?

Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) is now trying to bridge across on his own to the four leaders.

The US domestic teams are letting their presence be known.

A Saxo Bank Sungard rider has just stopped to make an adjustment to a wheel magnet. Doesn't seem very concerned at the moment.

The break has now stretched its lead out to 1:15. '

Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis has some researchers collecting data on their riders' power, heart rate and glucose levels. Bodrogi should be providing some good data to crunch.

Laszlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Timon Seubert (Team Netapp), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) now hold a 1:25 gap over Hernandez and a 2:30 margin on the peloton.

Bodrogi, Seubert, Driscoll and Ben Jacques-Maynes are working well together, taking even pulls.

Ben Jacques-Maynes is one of the few professionals who has started all six editions of the Tour of California.

The other six-time starters include Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Jason McCartney, Jens Voigt, JJ Haedo, Levi Leipheimer and Tom Danielson.

The break has entered Beale Air Force Base.

The break and peloton have been facing a headwind all day thus far and it's likely to stay that way through to Sacramento.

Bodrogi is a good man to have in a break as he's quite accomplished against the clock. Plenty of power.

Bodrogi, Seubert, Driscoll and Ben Jacques-Maynes are now off the Beale Air Force Base compound.

There's a high ceiling of clouds and it looks like the rain will hold off...fingers crossed.

Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly) has been absorbed by the peloton. The break's lead is at 4:30.

The peloton has made its way through the Air Force base.

Back to our prognostications about candidates for a sprint victory...

Also packing quite a finishing kick is Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard), who's won five stages at the Amgen Tour of California.

The break's lead has levelled off at five minutes.

72km remaining from 122km

Jonas Carney, team director of Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth, spoke to us before the start.

Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini is at the finish in Sacramento where she's reporting that the sun is out.

Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) also had a word with our Cyclingnews crew pre-stage.

The riders are in Wheatland and are passing Wheatland Union High School. The road is full of chalk messages from the students.

Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) also had a word with our Cyclingnews crew pre-stage.

Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) also had a word with our Cyclingnews crew pre-stage.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo is in the race caravan in a car driven by Andy Paulin. In addition to some good palmares on the bike back in the 1980s while racing for teams such as Coors Light, he knows his botany and is giving our very own Laura lessons en route. Plenty of walnut trees today.

58km remaining from 122km

Bodrogi, in the break, is sporting full leg warmers. Seubert, Driscoll and Ben Jacques-Maynes all have shed leg coverings.

So who else has the goods to win a field sprint today?

Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) is resplendent in his rainbow-striped jersey as world champion, sitting comfortably in the peloton.

Riders are dropping back to the team cars for bottles. The temps are rising, up to about 65 degrees F.

54km remaining from 122km

Omer Kem, DS of Bissell, had this to say about Ben Jacques-Maynes getting into the break of the day

Here are some other riders to think about come finish time.

BMC teammates George Hincapie and Jeff Louder roll along in the peloton, having a chat.

And there's Oscar Freire (Rabobank), also comfortably tucked away in the peloton.

48km remaining from 122km

James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), currently in the break, is perhaps best known for his prowess in cyclo-cross.

Team NetApp, who has Seubert in the break, is providing Cyclingnews with video of their Amgen Tour of California experience.

42km remaining from 122km

It's wide open and flat right now en route to Sacramento.

RadioShack's general classification contenders Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner should be looking to stay out of trouble and not lose any time on the opening stage.

37km remaining from 122km

I'd mentioned UnitedHealthcare's Robert Förster earlier.

34km remaining from 122km

The break is riding in an echelon in the crosswind and is about 20km out from the finishing circuit.

Powerhouse Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) at the front of the peloton, grinding out the tempo in a cadence that makes my knees hurt just watching it.

30km remaining from 122km

Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) is being paced up towards the front of the peloton by a pair of teammates

And speaking of Talansky, the 22-year-old American has been having a fine season in Europe thus far in his first year on Garmin-Cervelo.

27km remaining from 122km

And we have our first sighting of "Antler Dude" with 26km to go, running along the side of the road.

24km remaining from 122km

Our leading quartet of Laszlo Bodrogi (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Timon Seubert (Team Netapp), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) are still sharing the work up front.

We're on suburban streets now, no more countryside.

20km remaining from 122km

Saxo Bank, Jelly Belly and HTC-Highroad has riders at the front of the peloton.

19km remaining from 122km

The peloton has the break in sight on a long, wide stretch of road.

17km remaining from 122km

17km remaining from 122km

Jelly Belly driving the peloton.

Ooh, not a good time for a flat. Nic Hamilton (Jelly Belly) getting a new rear wheel.

15km remaining from 122km

They're both still fighting, but it's all over.

13km remaining from 122km

13km remaining from 122km

13km remaining from 122km

HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervelo at the front.

Ryder Hesjedal on the front followed by four HTC-Highroad riders.

Danny Pate at the front for HTC-Highroad.

6km remaining from 122km

The rain is increasing in intensity, not what the peloton wants so close to the finish on a finishing circuit.

Peloton exercising caution on turns, full of slick road decals.

NetApp now has riders on the front, Saxo Bank tucked in behind.

And just like that, the rain has let off.

3km remaining from 122km

Who's it going to be for the sprint win? Saxo Bank back on the front.

Getting very dodgy up front. Now Sky's in control

Sky is gunning it.

1km remaining from 122km

Sky and Liquigas vying for control.

Three Sky riders on the front, drilling it

Sky takes it! Looks like Ben Swift.

Definitely Ben Swift with the stage victory in Sacramento. He'll become the first leader of the Amgen Tour of California.

Here's the provisional results:

Thanks for joining us on this first day of competition at the Amgen Tour of California.

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