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Tour of California 2011: Stage 5

Hello, and welcome to stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California! Racing will commence today at 9:30am PDT.

The race is underway, currently in a 2.9km neutral section.

The peloton is rolling along at a leisurely 25km/hr, some riders are getting mechanical issues taken care of.

The peloton is making its way to Laguna Seca through green, rolling hills.

The race is on to Fort Ord military base, nearing the official start of the race at km 0.

Today's stage is the longest of the Amgen Tour of California as the peloton makes its way 217.4km from Seaside to Paso Robles. The peloton has an early start and are expected to take approximately six hours to complete the course.

And we're racing! And immediately there's an attack from Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek).

Denifl's move was short-lived, and the peloton is back together now.

Stage five was originally intended to travel down California's iconic Highway 1 alongside the Pacific Ocean for the bulk of the stage before heading inland to Paso Robles, but landslides blocked sections of the coastal road after late winter storms in March. Today's route while be entirely inland and will showcase new scenery and towns.

Paso Robles last hosted a stage finish in the 2009 edition of the race, with the peloton travelling nearly exactly the same distance as today. The 2009 route, however, started to the northeast in Visalia and was flat for virtually the entire length. Today's route from Seaside will be a much hillier affair, with four KOMs on tap.

There's another attack. Six riders have a slight advantage.

After having two stages for the sprinters to open the Amgen Tour of California, yesterday the climbers came to the fore, with the race blowing apart on the finishing ascent of Sierra Road.

Chris Horner (RadioShack) put on a tour de force performance in the closing kilometres as he soloed to victory and took over the race lead.

Here's a look at the top of the general classification heading into today:
1 Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 11:29:32
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:01:15
3 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:22
4 Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:29
5 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 0:01:30
6 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:36
8 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Leopard Trek 0:01:50
9 Andrew Talansky (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
10 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:02:00
11 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:02:05
12 Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo
13 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:33
14 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10
15 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:02:38
16 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:44
17 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:53
18 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:03:04
19 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team 0:03:19
20 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:03:25

We weren't able to get any IDs on the break, but the peloton is all back together.

The tempo is a brisk 50km/h in the field as they fly by rolling coastal scrub brush and scattered pines. It's all very green after a rainy winter.

A Bissell rider has gone on the attack. They've been very aggressive thus far, putting riders in every decisive break.

The peloton is passing Laguna Seca at the moment.

We had mentioned that four KOMs are on tap today. The first, the category 4 climb of Laureles Grade, is 5km away.

The battle for the mountains classification is very tight and today's four KOMs should be hotly contested.

The US's Jonathan Patrick McCarty, riding for Canadian Pro Continental squad Team Spidertech Powered By C10, currently tops the classification:
1 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Team Spidertech Powered By C10 12 pts
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 12
3 Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 10
4 Will Routley (Can) Team Spidertech Powered By C10 10
5 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 10
6 Matthew Busche (USA) Team RadioShack 10
7 Jesse Anthony (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth 9
8 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack 8
9 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 7
10 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Team RadioShack 7

The peloton is now on the ascent to the first KOM. There are sweeping views of Carmel Valley.

The peloton is still together, travelling at a brisk tempo.

And we have an attack from Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), but he's quickly brought back.

While the Amgen Tour of California has its official classifications, the peloton's cyclo-cross riders have an informal 'cross classification.

Powers was keeping tabs on Lars Boom (Rabobank), but was bummed that he missed the day's decisive break, telling CN's Laura Weislo "I went one break too soon". He promised to be on the lookout today for the break.

We had an attack from Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) and Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling), but it was quickly shut down.
 

The pack is strung out in approach of the first KOM

Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo) and Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling) attack.
 

We're trying to get an update on the road of the current situation.

Jonas Carny, the Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth director, thought the early KOMs would force a selection. He's hoping that either Mike Creed of Jesse Anthony can make their way into the early break.

Frankie Andreu, the director of Kenda/5-hour Energy p/b Geargrinder, spoke to Laura Weislo and thought that today would the day for a break to go the distance. He thought that RadioShack wouldn't have to worry about anyone more than six minutes down on GC.

We now have a four man break comprised of Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank Cycling Team), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo) and Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling).
 

The quartet went clear over the first KOM

KOM #1 results
1. Freire
2. Froome
3. Martin
4. Baldwini

Results of first sprint:

1. Freire
2. Martin
3. Baldwin

So we have a four-man break of Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank Cycling Team), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling).

188km remaining from 217km

The escapees are 29km into the stage.

Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) has abandoned.

Best young rider leader Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervelo) crashed on the descent off the first KOM, be he's back up and regained contact with the peloton.

Oscar Freire spoke with us before the stage and he thought that a break could go the distance since the route is hilly and the GC order is now pretty clear. Little did we know that he had aspirations to make the move!

We have mentioned Andrew Talansky and another closely contested classification is for best young rider, which changed hands yesterday from Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) to Talansky. At the moment it appears to be shaping up as a three-man contest between Talansky, Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) and Sagan.

Here's a look at the top-10 for best young rider:'
1 Andrew Talansky (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 11:31:22
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) HTC-Highroad 0:00:15
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:54
4 Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:02:38
5 Timothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:05:53
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:11:43
7 Ben King (USA) Team RadioShack 0:12:22
8 Alastair Loutit (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Kenda 0:22:36
9 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:22:53
10 Leigh Howard (Aus) HTC-Highroad

RadioShack will be expected to set tempo in the peloton, and amongst their riders is US road champion Ben King who spoke to Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini before today's stage.

"This week at the Tour of California has been great and I will be up there in the wind a lot with Markel and Jason and the reat of the guys. I love it, it is so rewarding. It is so cool to finishi my job early on and roll up the climb. It was cool to get to the top and have the spectators tell me that Chris won by a minute and half. It was cool to finish and see how happy everyone was, very exciting."

The four man break of Martin, Froome, Baldwin and Freire has been neutralised.

We now have 8 riders off the front and we'll provide their IDs shortly.

We have IDs of 7 of the eight riders off the front. The attackers are Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Sky Procycling), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth).

177km remaining from 217km

They're 40km into the stage and have a lead of 1:40 over the peloton on the approach to the second KOM.

It's very aggressive, fluid racing thus far today.

Four riders are trying to make it across to the break: Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) and Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)

We had a mistake in the original composition of the break. Arvesen had abandoned yesterday.

There is now a 10-man break off the front and they've passed throught the second KOM.

We have IDs for eight of the ten riders off the front: Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)

We have results for the second KOM:
1. Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10)
2. Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)
3. Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling)
4. Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team)
 

McCarty started the day in the KOM leader's jersey and is doing his part to defend his lead. He and Anthony had jumped from the break to contest the KOM and were then absorbed soon after into the break.

We spoke to the Steve Bauer, the Spidertech director, and he stated that they'd ride in defense of the mountains classification, and indeed they are!

The weather started cool and misty along the coast, but the temperatures are warming up and the sun should be peeking through shortly as we make our way further inland.

Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini spoke to Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) prior to the start today:

"Our team is divided in figuring out what is going to happen today. It could be a breakaway and we will be watching for some of the bigger teams to go and that will help make our decision as to whether or not we will go in the break or not. We don’t want to burn too many guys in the breakaway because Rory has a good shot in the GC and we don’t want to burn a guy today that then can’t help him later on in the race. It’s not worth us being up the road unless several other big teams are represented."

Today's stage is sponsored by Rabobank and the organisation has 250 people on-hand to watch. The riders are definitely motivated, and Rabobank's Tjallingi is currently in the break.

The day's third KOM, the category 4 climb on Carmel Valley Road, comes 52.5km into the stage. We'll let you know the results as soon as possible.

If today's stage does end in a group sprint, former GC leader Ben Swift could be a contender to pick up his second stage win. He spoke to Cyclingnews' Jen See yesterday.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo caught up with Garmin-Cervelo director Jonathan Vaughters before today's stage.

"RadioShack caught onto our tactics pretty quickly [yesterday], having Thor in the break - if they had just ridden tempo instead of a full chase, he could have been away at the top and have rider reach him. Thor is one of the best descenders in the world, and if they could have had two minutes at the bottom of the final climb instead of one, it would have been a different story.

"Today we have 5 guys we can play the cards with. Horner is clearly the strongest guy in the race, we have to see if we can tactically leverage that so we can make it hard on him."

155km remaining from 217km

The break has pushed out their lead to 3:05 at km 62.

There are now 11 riders at the head of the race. We'll have a full list shortly.

We have the names of 10 out of 11 riders currently off the front: Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Reid Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)

Their lead is now up to 3:50 over the peloton.

There's been plenty of cattle guards on the descents to keep the riders on their toes. Despite the high speeds, riders are  choosing to bunny hop them!

Ah, quick correction on the break. The Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth rider is Jesse Anthony, not Reid Mumford. Sorry about that. The peloton is in a fairly remote region at the moment and updates are hard to come by for now.

There's plenty of horsepower up the road. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) is best-place on GC, starting the day 2:05 down on Horner.

143km remaining from 217km

RadioShack is riding tempo in the peloton, with US road champion Ben King at the front.

The peloton is 74km into the stage.

Kirsten Frattini spoke to race leader Chris Horner yesterday. See what Horner had to say about his chances to stay in the leader's jersey through the final stage on Sunday.

There's another rather big race taking place concurrent with the Amgen Tour of California, the Giro d'Italia of course. Find out what happened in stage 12 today.

And we've finally tracked down the ID of that elusive 11th rider in the break - it's Oscar Freire (Rabobank)!

The break is entering Greenfield.

126km remaining from 217km

The break is at km 91 and holds a gap of 3:15 over the peloton. We're in an area noted for its agriculture and are currently rolling by fields of broccoli.

It's a long, flat valley road surrounded y low rolling hills.

As a reminder, we have a break of 11 riders off the front comprised of: Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Oscar Freire Gomez (Rabobank Cycling Team), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)
 

The break just made a right turn, heading south, and now have a tail wind to assist them.

The riders certainly are flying along today. At the moment they're ahead of the fastest projected time schedule.

There's been a crash in the field, three riders down.

Laura Weislo spoke to Jelly Belly's Bernarnd Van Ulden who's in his fourth straight Amgen Tour of California. Find out what he has to say about this year's experience.

All three riders who hit the deck in the peloton are up and making their way back to the peloton.

RadioShack is setting tempo in the peloton, keeping the break in check.

We're now in one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in California. Here, the land is flat and the growing season is well underway. Fields of grapes give way to lettuce and strawberries.

The riders are on roads paralleling the 101 freeway heading south to King City, Steineck country.

We have results for KOM #3:

1. Anthony
2. McCarty
3. Baldwin
4. Tjallingi

Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) are having quite a duel for the KOM classification. McCarty started the day with a 3-point advantage over Anthony.

111km remaining from 217km

The eleven-man break's lead is at 3:00 with 106km completed thus far.

Jacob Rytlewski (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) had a crash but he's up and back in the peloton.
 

Some action in the break as Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) attacks! He's currently 20 seconds up on the remaining 10 riders.
 

The Bissell team has been very active thus far at the Amgen Tour of California and today makes it four out of four days they've put a rider up the road. Cyclingnews's Jen See talked to the American Continental squad yesterday.

102km remaining from 217km

Tjallingi is back in the break, which is looking a bit disorganised at the moment. The peloton's 2:55 back.

There's been a crash in the field. No details yet as to who went down.

Alex Dowsett (Sky Procycling), Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank Sungard), Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling), Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home), Luca Damiani (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) and Jacob Rytlewski (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) were all involved in the crash in the peloton.

We're approaching the mid-way point of today's stage with 11 riders off the front of a RadioShack-led peloton.

Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Oscar Freire Gomez and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) are the 11 riders on the attack.
 

The gap to the field is 2:45

The race is currently seven minutes faster than the quickest predicted schedule.

A nature break is being taken by the peloton.

As the peloton stopped for the call of nature, the break's lead has increased slightly.

We're now in wine country, plenty of vineyards along the race route.

79km remaining from 217km

The break is at km 138 and has a 2:55 advantage over the peloton.

Two riders involved in the crash earlier, Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) and Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank Sungard), have abandoned. They've both been brought to a hospital with non-critical injuries.

Alex Dowsett (Sky) has also abandoned and is in his team car.

The riders are in the town of Lockwood under sunny skies.

RadioShack is chipping away at the break's advantage, now down to 2:00.

The fourth and final KOM of the day is located at km 184.2 on Interlake Road. All four KOMs today have been rated as category 4 climbs.

64km remaining from 217km

The break's been pegged at 2:00, and they're currently 153km into the stage.

There's beautiful, sunny weather at the finish in Paso Robles.

World champion Thor Hushovd has also abandoned today. "I haven't been feeling very well since I arrived, and today I just felt empty. I couldn't continue. I'm very disappointed to leave the team and the race. I would have liked to finish because the last day was a goal for me. I wish the team luck. I'm proud of what we've done here so far."

57km remaining from 217km

The break is off the flat valley roads and back into hillier terrain. They're working smoothly together now and have stretched their lead back out to 2:50.

Can they go the distance?

The break should stay clear through the final KOM at 33.2km to go where Pat McCarty (Spidertech) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) can go head-to-head again for KOM supremacy.

And as a reminder, here's the composition of the 11-man break:

Daniel Martin (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing Team), Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek), Oscar Freire Gomez and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10), Christopher Baldwin (Bissell Cycling) and Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)

35km remaining from 217km

The break's lead has been whittled back to 1:45 with 35.5km remaining.

RadioShack still doing the work at the head of the peloton.

Liquigas-Cannondale is situated just behind RadioShack

Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare) is being gapped out from the break as they near the day's final KOM.

Luca Damiani (Kenda/5-hour Energy) looking pretty ripped up from his earlier crash, having trouble staying in touch with the peloton.

The break's splitting up in approach of the KOM.

McCarty and Anthony marking each other

 

Denifl leading it out

 

McCarty now takes over at the front and he takes maximum points. Trailed by Freire and Denifl.

McCarty will remain atop the KOM standings.

Denifl and Freire kept going over the top of the KOM. Jesse Anthony is trying to bridge up to the ProTour duo.

30km remaining from 217km

RadioShack is still powering the peloton. Their deficit is 2:20 with 30km to go.

Freire and Denifl working well together. Rabobank is sponsoring today's stage and Freire would like nothing more than to deliver the goods.

US road champion Ben King driving the peloton.

It looks like Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare) has been absorbed by the peloton.

Liguigas-Cannondale is now contributing to the chase, likely hoping to set up Peter Sagan for a field sprint win.

McCarty about to be absorbed, mission accomplished for his KOM campaign today.

No word yet as to the status of the remaining riders from the original break.

24km remaining from 217km

Freire and Denifl holding steady at 2:25 up on the peloton with 24.5km to go.

Riders are beginning to drop off the back of the peloton. It's a long day on the road today.

Race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) sitting comfortably near the head of the peloton, with his ever-present smile on his face.

Peloton just passed a "Share the Road" sign. Today, there's no sharing necessary as the peloton has a closed parcours.

20km remaining from 217km

The lead duo really want this to stick. At 20.5km to go their lead is at 2:05.

It's now up to the sprinters' teams to bring them back.

Freire and Denifl are flying downhill.

The remnants of the break are likely to be absorbed soon.

17km remaining from 217km

17.5km to go, Freire and Denifl's lead at 1:55.

Freire alone in the lead, looks like Denifl had a flat.

Freire not waiting, he'll miss the extra horsepower. Can he time trial the remaining 15.5km to victory?

14km remaining from 217km

Freire going it alone, holding a 1:50 lead with 14km to go.

The peloton is stretched out single file with Liquigas-Cannondale doing the damage.

Ben King back on the front for RadioShack.

What was left of the break is shattered in between Freire and the peloton.

Louder, Anthony, Martin brought back.

Velits and Tjallingi are now caught.

9km remaining from 217km

9.9km to go and Freire's lead is now 1:20

8km remaining from 217km

Cameron Wurk (Liquigas-Cannondale) powering the peloton. Freire's lead at 1:10 with 8km to go.

Froome has been absorbed by the peloton.

Team car alongside Freire urging him on.

7km remaining from 217km

Gap at 1:00 with 7km remaining.

HTC-Highroad now on the front with Bernhard Eisel in the lead.

Freire grits his teeth, still 100% committed.

Crash in the back of the field. Andy Jacques-Maynes and Brent Bookwalter. They're up and trying to chase back on.

Peter Velits and Danny Pate now at the head of the chase for HTC-Highroad. The peloton is splitting up on a false flat.

5km remaining from 217km

Not looking good for Freire. His lead is now at 25 seconds with 5km to go.

4km remaining from 217km

Four kilometres to go and Freire's lead is a slender 15 seconds.

Freire glances back. The field has been ripped apart by HTC-Highroad.

2km remaining from 217km

Freire is caught with 2.4km to go.

Attack by a Bissell rider

1km remaining from 217km

Vennell has been caught. Inside of 1km to go.

Field breaking up slightly under intense pressure.

Sagan takes it!

Leigh Howard led out the sprint, but Sagan kicked hard to come from four riders back.

Provisional top five:
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 5:16:03
2 Leigh Howard (Aus) HTC-Highroad
3 Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling
4 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
5 Alex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - OptumHealth
 

Top three on GC remain unchanged:
1 Christopher Horner (USA) Team RadioShack 16:45:35
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team RadioShack 0:01:15
3 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:01:22
 

Thanks for tuning in to our live coverage. Tomorrow the Amgen Tour of California faces the race of truth in Solvang, with a 24km individual time trial.

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