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Tour of California 2011: Stage 3


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews's live coverage from the Amgen Tour of California. You join us for stage 3 from Auburn to Modesto.

Another day in the saddle for the field here in California but we've got a slightly delayed start, the bunch now set to start at 10:25PST.

As for conditions, we'll it's hardly ideal, in fact it's more in liking with Belgium. 10C and spitting rain in Auburn.

Stage three could present another day for the sprinters with a relatively flat to undulating 196.2 kilometre route beginning in Auburn and ending in Modesto. Opportunistic sprinters will have a chance to contest three Herbal Life intermediate sprints for points located in Folson, Ione and Oakdale at kilometre 30, 80 and 160 respectively. The peloton will continue along flat to undulating roads into the finishing circuits in Modesto.

We spoke to GC contender Chris Horner and here's what the 39-year-old had to say.


Laura Weislo is at the start  for CN and says that they have a very complicated 7.6km neutral circuit out of Auburn and that at the Bernhard Museum, they have kids dressed up in frontier costumes.

Yesterday we saw a break go up the road consisting of US domestic teams. We'll surely see something similar again today.

It's certainly not going to be a day off for the GC contenders. The cross winds, mixed with so many teams using the opening part of the stage to form a break means we could see fireworks from the very off.

We really need an umbrella icon for showers. Either way, it's still spitting here at the start. Only light showers mind you.

Useful fact to impress your friends with today: Auburn is Chris Jones of UHC's home town.

So we're off. The riders have started today's stage. They're 2.2miles into neutral, they've got one more go around and then head out to the course for the start of racing.

Mike Friedman (KBS) was annoyed yesterday that the WorldTour teams basically made a blockade when the break went and basically ended the racing from the peloton. He said it's bullshit and he intends to break their stranglehold today.

Mike Tamayo (UHC DS) said that yesterday was hard because the riders had come down from altitude and everyone was a bit foggy, and with the short stage and rain it was chaotic. He said his guys had the legs, and they were in the race, but they just had some miscommunication and it didn't work out. But he's optimistic for today that Forster can get a results.

They're coming up the hill on the way out of Auburn approaching 0km

Downtown Auburn was pretty packed with fans - one booth was serving a full breakfast with eggs and bacon for $5. Nice little town - a smattering of spectators on the way out.

There was some miscommunication right now as to whether or not we're racing - riders are cruising at neutral pace and are now just getting the message that they're racing.

It's pretty clear now. We've got attacks all over the road.

And we've already got a group of 7 riders off the front of the bunch. We predicted this would happen. Could we already have the day's break?

Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta and Alexander Gottfried (Team Netapp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)

James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) the most courageous rider in the race yesterday is also in the group.

Meanwhile a Jelly Belly rider has a flat.

SRAM neutral support is behind the break, still not big enough of a gap for the team cars to move forward.

The leaders have 40 seconds.

First sprint is in Folsom, $1000 one-place prime for first rider there. Rider 156 back in the field after his flat.

The leaders have a minute on the bunch.

Now that we're out of the suburbs the bunch have stopped for a nature break. That means we've got our break of the day. Unless we get a counter attack going.

Want confirmation that we've got our break for the day? Well the team cars have just moved up to the leaders on the road. The gap has gone up slightly, it's 1:24

Leipheimer responded to the criticism that the WT teams controlled the race, and he defended it, said everyone looks to them to control the races. The domestic teams are free to attack, they aren't going to hold them back, but the big teams also have to do their jobs.

And by the way, if you want to know the result from today's Giro stage, click here.

We've raced 9.5 miles and the break looks good. Still over a minute ahead of the field at the last time check.

Laura Weislo has is in the convoy and made it up the break. "Spitting rain, on dry roads for now. It's on and off with the rain. Riders are all taking even pulls as we kind of roll up and down through some rural areas."

And she seems to have inspired them to pedal faster. The gap is now 2;15

I dont know what Laura is saying to the riders in the break but it's certainly having an affect. The gap is now 2:45

The break is heading through a town with lots of fans cheering. Rain starting to fall more heavily. Gap 2:50

the break pass a construction zone "Putting America to work" it says. But there are no people working today.

Except the breakaway of course - they're working pretty hard as the terrain is constantly undulating.

The bunch is stopping to put on their jackets. The gap is going to go up by another minute or two now.

And we've got confirmation that Mike Creed is in the break too.

Not sure how we missed Creed there. Creed of course formerly of Cref, Rock Racing and Type1.

So to confirm Gottried is not in the break.

On a four lane highway inside 5km to the sprint.

They're all working well, all doing their turns on the front and sharing the pace. The bunch are still not racing.

We're 1km from the sprint and we've got some big crowds out on the roads. Fans are really turning out in big numbers to see their favourite riders.

Creed leads the break through a tight left turn and Barta doesnt' like it too much.

Barta lost a little bit of ground there and he's chasing back on. He should be fine. Second day in a row his team have had someone in the break.

NetApp is the correct spelling of the team name by the way. Not Netapp as our live situation on the right hand side says. We'll fix that for tomorrow but for now, please remember it's NetApp.

By the way we've upload 72 photos from this Giro stage and you can check them out here.

1. Barta 2. Gaimon 3. Andy Jacques-Maynes

Now he looks around and realizes he's on his own, sits up and waits.

The line wasn't really very clear on the line so I think he just kept on sprinting and sprinting. Either way he's picked up maximum points.

We've covered 18.6 miles.

If you want to know more about Creed. Click here.

Quite a bit of wind now, it's really picking up and the break are working really hard.

The break has 5 minutes on the bunch. That's not bad at all. They'll need a lot more of course but they're steadily building a gap.

And without further delay I'm going to hand over to Peter Hymas for the rest of today's stage.

It's wide open here, with plenty of wind plus rain.

There's a left turn coming up which will switch the wind to a crosswind...time to echelon!

And there's now a right turn, headwind again for the riders.

We've passed a spectator holding up a sign saying "Sorry about the weather". The rain is really coming down hard now.

There's plenty of calls on race radio as riders are requesting additional clothing from their team cars.

The break continues to work well together and has pushed their advantage out to 6:10.

At the head of the peloton is the familiar figure of Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) setting tempo, likely at low rpms in a huge gear.

At least he can keep his white kit a bit cleaner without all that spray being kicked up in the peloton behind him.

We're in cattle country now, and while we can't see them our noses can detect their presence.

There's been  plenty of turns, back and forth along the route thus far. It would be an ideal parcours for splitting the peloton if one was so inclined, but for now there's no action in the bunch.

As a reminder, here's how the GC looks after yesterday's stage from Nevada City to Sacramento:

Swift also leads the sprint classification, while Sagan tops the young rider's classification, familiar territory for the young Liquigas-Cannondale rider.

The peloton's yet to tackle any classified climbs, and there are none on tap for today's stage, so the KOM classification has yet to be awarded.

151km remaining from 196km

Team Sky, Liquigas-Cannondale and HTC-Highroad are all contributing riders to the pace-making at the front of the peloton.

Tyler Wren (Jamis-Sutter Home) is providing us with live telemetry from within the race. You can follow his data stream here.

There's still some rain coming down, but it's eased back in intensity. The temperature is currently 52 degrees F.

The Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth team car has concluded its business in the field and is now rocketing up the road to position itself behind Michael Creed in the break.

On paper today appears to be another day for the sprinters. One of the likely candidates for victory is Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), runner-up yesterday in Sacramento.

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) expects a bunch sprint in Modesto today, but stated that with the wind and rain it will be a hard stage.

Canadian Pro Continental squad Team Spidertech Powered By C10 is contributing to the pace-making in the peloton.

138km remaining from 196km

The rain is once again picking up in intensity. The team cars have been very busy thus far distributing wet weather gear to their respective riders.

William Dugan (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) has paced teammate Also Ino Ilesic back to the peloton after the Slovenian suffered a flat.

There's a Red Cross helicopter parked at a dicey turn up ahead. Hopefully their services won't be required today and at all during the Amgen Tour of California.

Rory Sutherland, UnitedHealthcare's GC contender, has suffered a front flat. No panic as he gets that taken care of.

Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) has a flat, too.

There are two more intermediate sprints on tap today, at 80.4km in Ione and 160.7km in Oakdale. Each offers bonus seconds of 3, 2, and 1 respectively for the first three across.

There's also 10, 6 and 4-second bonuses at the finish for the top three on the stage.

129km remaining from 196km

As a reminder, we have these seven riders off the front: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)

They're working smoothly together, currently rolling through grassy plains evoking a Kansas-esque vibe.

And World Champion Thor Hushovd has flatted. No worries, though, he should be back in the peloton shortly.

126km remaining from 196km

If the Amgen Tour of California had a "Fuga Pinarello" classification then Jamey Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home) would be well on his way to leading the competition. The "Fuga Pinarello" classification keeps track of the total amount of kilometres a rider spends on the attack in breaks, and thus far Driscoll is 2-for-2 regarding making the day's decisive move.

And speaking of the Giro d'Italia, you can read all about today's action in stage 10 here.

The break is getting close to the day's second intermediate sprint in Ione. They're currently 5km out.

Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) is the highest place rider on GC in the break. He started the day in 54th overall, 21 seconds down. He's since picked up one bonus second for the first sprint.

There's quite an art to driving in race caravans.

The break has gone through the intermediate sprint line in Ione. Results:

Barta leapt off the front of the break and was pursued by Meier with the Czech rider again crossing the line first. The break has regrouped after the sprint and is once again sharing the workload.

Lunch time for the break as they roll through the feed zone.

The stiff headwind plus a slightly late start has put today's stage behind the slowest estimated schedule, which is calculated at an average speed of 38.6km/hr.

The Jackson Valley Vineyard is open for wine tasting. Not sure if there are hand-ups for the riders. Maybe a quick stop for team vehicles.

It's pretty remote countryside at the moment, with the occasional old house left over from the gold rush days.

Break holding steady at 6:30 over the peloton.

Regarding the little kerfuffle earlier between the UnitedHealthcare and BMC team cars, it seems it was a bit more involved than a mere love tap on the bumper.

Stay safe, guys!

There's still a light rain to go along with the stiff headwind. Not exactly a pleasant day in the saddle for the peloton.

The break has passed the half-way point of today's 196.2km stage from Auburn to Modesto and the gap has dropped to 5:15 over the peloton.

And as a reminder, these are our seven escapees today: Christian Meier (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), James Driscoll (Jamis-Sutter Home), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)

Team Sky, Garmin-Cervelo, HTC-Highroad and Team RadioShack all have riders contributing to the chase effort in the peloton.

And the chase is on. The ProTour squads have stretched the field out single file as the gap drops to 4:55.

Race leader Ben Swift is tucked comfortably in line behind his Sky teammates.

Team Sky at the front of the peloton, with the break's lead at 4:25.

We've had a rider take a tumble into a ditch in the peloton - Matt Busche (RadioShack). He's back up and on his bike.

80km remaining from 196km

Linus Gerdemann (Leopard Trek) was also involved in the crash and he, too, is back in the peloton along with Busche.

Up in the break, Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) is speaking with his DS in the team car.

There's a British flag proudly flying roadside for leader Ben Swift.

Ouch! Jesus Del Nero (NetApp) has gone down. Slow to get up.

Del Nero is up on is feet and talking to team staff and race doctor.

Phillip Gaimon (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) has slipped off the back of the break.

73km remaining from 196km

Looks like the rain has stopped, but the peloton is decked out in arm warmers and knee warmers. Not a balmy day in California.

Two Sky riders at the front of the peloton, followed by an HTC-Highroad rider.

Up in the break, Jan Barta (NetApp) has dropped back to his team car for sustenance and is now making his way back to his fellow escapees.

68km remaining from 196km

Just wide-open, rolling terrain at the moment.

Jesus Del Nero (NetApp) is back in the race caravan and is being attended to by the race doctor.

Nothing but the occasional cluster of cattle to witness the racing right now in the rolling grasslands.

Jesus Del Nero (NetApp) has now latched on to the back of the peloton after his earlier crash.

65km remaining from 196km

No word on Gaimon's position. He's in no-man's land between the break and the peloton.

US road champion Ben King (RadioShack) is back at the team car, having a chat.

RadioShack currently has a rider setting tempo, Sky's Ian Stannard tucked in behind.

Steady rotating paceline for our six leaders.

Looks like the sun is beginning to peak through the clouds, a welcome sight for the peloton.

World champion Thor Hushovd is getting rid of some cold weather gear as his booties come off.

He's a tough Norwegian, and earlier teammate David Zabriskie stated that Thor does not have a rainbag.

60km remaining from 196km

Looks like Jan Barta (NetApp) is skipping pulls, sitting on the back of the break.

It seems that Dickeson, too, is sitting on while Creed, Driscoll, Meier and Andy Jacques-Maynes share the work.

58km remaining from 196km

Six HTC-Highroad rides on the front of the peloton.

Front flat for Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek). He's waiting for his team car to reach him.

And Andy's back in business, making his way through the caravan...But first, the cap comes off from beneath his helmet.

Michael Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies) is with Andy Schleck as well, but both have regained contact with the peloton.

Taylor Phinney (BMC) is wearing the best young rider's jersey as the leader of that classification, Peter Sagan, is wearing the points jersey.

Ben King's back at the RadioShack car again, shedding some clothing. He's flying the stars and stripes jersey of US road champion, earned the hard way via a lengthy solo break.

51km remaining from 196km

48km remaining from 196km

The race is rolling by the Woodward Reservoir as Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) gets a new wheel.

The break is just about 10km away from the day's third intermediate sprint, located in Oakdale.

We've got some frisky horses roadside, excited to see the peloton fly by.

The break will likely contest the final intermediate sprint amongst themselves, but with their lead down to 1:35 with 44km to go, how much longer will they remain off the front?

Another front flat, this time for Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale).

42km remaining from 196km

We'd like to say thanks to the army of volunteers manning each intersection for the peloton's safe passing. There's quite a few along a 196km stage.

39km remaining from 196km

The break has 3km to the final intermediate sprint in Oakdale.

Will it be a clean sweep for Jan Barta (NetApp)?

Barta's sitting on the back again, perhaps preparing to pounce...

The break is splitting up following the final intermediate sprint. Barta and Jacques-Maynes are now in the lead.

Oakdale intermediate sprint results:

We have some clarification about the incident in the race caravan earlier today. "The Team Radio Shack lightly rear ended the BMC Racing Team car. There is no visible damage on either vehicle. No air bags deployed. And contrary to what have might have been reported, the BMC Racing Team did not hit the car in front of it."

30km remaining from 196km

Driscoll has been absorbed back into the peloton after a lengthy stint off the front for the second straight day.

Ben Jacques-Maynes was unsuccessful in his bid yesterday to earn the most courageous rider award, perhaps his brother Andy will take that honor today.

27km remaining from 196km

A quick wheel change for Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek). He's making his way back to the peloton.

25km remaining from 196km

Paris-Roubaix champion Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervelo) is dropping back to the team car.

23km remaining from 196km

Barta and Jacques-Maynes are fighting a strong crosswind. The peloton is 1:15 back.

Team Sky is turning the screws at the head of the peloton. We may see some splits with the crosswind.

21km remaining from 196km

20km remaining from 196km

There's panic as the peloton has split into three echelons.

Barta alone in the lead. Andy Jacques-Maynes has cracked.

Looks like approximately 30-40 riders in the first echelon.

The break has been neutralised and there's a much-diminished front group.

17km remaining from 196km

The fireworks have ceased for the moment.

There's still a fairly big split, but the chasing group is coming back in contact with the front end of the race.

15km remaining from 196km

13km remaining from 196km

Front flat for Matt Busche (RadioShack). Not a good time for a flat.

The peloton is nearing the finishing circuit in Modesto, 2 laps of a 4.5km loop.

Ben King is pacing Chris Horner back to the field. Horner is riding teammate Irizar's bike.

10km remaining from 196km

We're on the wooded streets of Modesto and Spidertech is now at the front of the peloton.

9km remaining from 196km

The pace is ramping up and the peloton is stretching out.

Five Spidertech riders on the front.

8km remaining from 196km

7km remaining from 196km

Jens Voigt one of the riders down, he's back up and riding.

Two other riders crashed, too. One looked like a UnitedHealthcare rider.

6km remaining from 196km

Voigt is banged up but riding, just rolling along.

4km remaining from 196km

4km remaining from 196km

Saxo Bank is taking over from Spidertech.

Four Saxo Bank riders on the front.

And here comes Sky alongside Saxo Bank.

3km to go, Sky and Saxo Bank at the front.

Alex Dowsett (Sky) hammering.

Team Sky is firmly in control with 2.4km to go.

Raboank is looming as well as HTC-Highroad

1km remaining from 196km

Here comes Rabobank...

1km remaining from 196km

Another crash, a lone Saxo Bank rider.

That was Baden Cooke.

Winding up for the sprint.

Another win for Sky!

Greg Henderson has taken stage three in Modesto.

A chaotic sprint indeed in the finale.

Michael Matthews just finished. He, too, crashed in the closing kilometres.

Henderson just rocketed out of the last turn and gapped the field.

Top three on the stage:

Here's the provisional top ten:

Sky teammates Greg Henderson and Ben Swift are tied on time for the general classification and it appears Henderson will take over the race lead.

Confirmed, Henderson is the new overall leader.

Thank you for joining us for stage three of the Amgen Tour of California.

We'll be back tomorrow for full live coverage of stage four, 131.6km from Livermore to San Jose with the hilltop finish on Sierra Road.  The action kicks off at 11:45am PDT

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