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Tour of California 2011: Stage 7


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. Today we'll be bringing you coverage of the 'queen' stage 7 taking the riders 121.9km from Claremont to the summit of Mt. Baldy. The race starts at 11:45 PDT.

The queen stage seven might be short but it is one of the most challenging and decisive stages in the Amgen Tour of California. The race will start in Claremont and climb for roughly 20 kilometres to the top of Glendora Ridge Rd for the first California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM).

The sprinters will have a moment to shine at the only Herbal Life intermediate sprint located near the mid-point of the race in the town of Glendora.

The peloton will get underway in one minute.

There should be quite a battle on the road to Mt Baldy to determine general classification supremacy.

Chris Horner (RadioShack) remains atop GC after yesterday's Solvang time trial.

As a reminder, here's the general classification top-20:

The race is underway! Well, for the neutral section right now.

Here's what race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo about today's stage:

The sun is out and it's very warm in Claremont with big crowds on hand to see the peloton off.

Chris Horner is calling for his team car. The riders are still rolling along in the neutral section.

After doing several laps in Claremont, the peloton has just passed across the start line for the final time.

The day's first KOM, a category 2 ascent on Glendora Ridge Rd, arrives 18.5km into the stage.

We are rolling - the race will start with a right turn on Foothills Blvd, which mean hills. Climbing. Pain.

Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) had a mechanical. The race start is being delayed until he's back in the peloton.

The peloton is approaching the 0km point and Candelario is still making his way through the caravan. The peloton is holding off still until he's back.

There is still snow on the top of the peaks to our left and the smog/haze layer is obscuring the peaks beyond.

Maybe Candelario thinks if he takes a really, really long time to change his front wheel they'll keep the whole stage neutral.

And Candelario has returned. We're racing!

Pain seems to be the theme for the day.

We have an attack from a Jelly Belly rider.

Today's race is presented by Nissan - Chris Horner said in the press conference he won't do US Pro because he's got a Nissan sponsor event to attend, with Leipheimer.

There are now 7 riders off the front with a slender advantage.

Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) said he expects a lot of pain - either with RadioShack setting such a tempo that Garmin-Cervelo can't attack, or Garmin-Cervelo getting someone away but RadioShack keeping them on a short leash. Either way it's going to be really hard on everyone.

And speaking of the KOM classification here's the top-10 going into today's stage:

Regarding Jesse Anthony's chances for the KOMs, Jonas Carney, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth team director, said

Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Ben Swift (Sky Procycling), Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Brian Vandborg (Saxo Bank Sungard), Alexander Gottfried (Team NetApp), William Dickeson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Benjamin Day (Kenda/5-hour Energy Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder) went out on the attack

The peloton was quick to chase them down, however, and currently only Bellotti is off the front.

116km remaining from 121km

Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team), Alexander Gottfried (Team NetApp), Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) have crashed in the peloton. They're up and making their way back to the field.

114km remaining from 121km

Laura Weislo spoke to Allan Peiper, HTC-Highroad team director, before the stage today.

Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has his family at the race today - his parents have been following the race all week, and his grandparents came today from Las Vegas to see him.

While the Amgen Tour of California peloton tackles Mt Baldy today, over the pond in the Giro d'Italia the riders had to ascend the fearsome Monte Zoncolon. Read all about the action here.

111km remaining from 121km

There's now a nine-man break with a 30-second lead.

The break is comprised of Andrew Talansky (Team Garmin-Cervelo), Christopher Froome and Ben Swift (Sky Procycling), George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team), Francesco Bellotti (Liquigas-Cannondale), Grischa Niermann (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alexander Efimkin (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) and Rob Britton (Bissell Cycling).

McCarty, the KOM leader is there, searching for more points today.

We've got an enthusiastic fan running alongside the riders with a Spanish flag. One rider tried to jump across to the break, but was brought back by the field.

Ben Swift (Sky) has been dropped from the break.

We still have nine riders up the road, as Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) successfully bridged to the break.

Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team) is chasing the nine escapees and is 15 seconds back. The peloton is at 30 seconds.

It's a hard day for everyone in the Amgen Tour of California peloton.

Lucas Euser (Spidertech Powered by C10) said it's their sole job today to protect Pat McCarty's mountains jersey and he expects to work really hard today. It's been a great tour for their team.

Alastair Loutit (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) has abandoned.

Our nine leaders now have over a one-minute lead on the peloton. The climb has flattened out for the moment, but will kick up again to the KOM.

Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) talked to Laura Weislo before the start today and said the team hasn't been in as many breakaways as they've wanted, that they still have 7 riders in the race and have been keeping their morale high. For a lot of the team it's their first big Tour.

It's an absolute madhouse atop the first KOM. Huge crowds out to see the race.

Team cars are being let into the gap behind the break. Looks like this move may stick for a while.

The break and peloton are across the day's first KOM where they went through an incredibly raucous group of fans.

We'll provide KOM results shortly.

99km remaining from 121km

Two more riders have abandoned: Andreas Schillinger (Team NetApp) and Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home)

Cyclingnews spoke to Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Cervelo) yesterday. He's in today's break and is a contender in the young rider classification. You can find out his Amgen Tour of California experience here.

Pat McCarty took top honors at the first KOM. We'll have the rest of the placings shortly.

92km remaining from 121km

It looks like Garmin-Cervelo director Jonathan Vaughters' prediction that his riders will animate the stage today is coming to fruition.

Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) had this to say to Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo about today's 'queen' stage:

74km remaining from 121km

And as a reminder, these are the nine riders on the attack:

Hesjedal and Talansky are the best-placed riders on GC in the break, 8th (at 2:27) and 11th (at 2:56) overall respectively.

And just as I mention Froome, we've found out that he's been dropped from the break.

There's  a sprint line in Glendora at km 74.2., then the climbing will commence again for the stage's second KOM, a category 2 ascent at km 92.5.

Cyclingnews and Santini clothing have partnered for an opportunity for you to win 1 of 10 jerseys from the Giro d'Italia!

The race has split up into four groups on the road. There's the 8-man break, the first group of chasers led by RadioShack and then there are two more groups after that. The last one, the gruppetto, is approximately seven miles behind the break.

It's definitely a hot day in California today, with temperatures in the 80s F.

52km remaining from 121km

The riders have 1km to the sprint line.

Rob Britton (Bissell) is going for the sprint.

The main field now has 1km to the sprint line.

47km remaining from 121km

Results for the sprint in Glendora:

45km remaining from 121km

The break's climbing again with Hesjedal setting tempo.

39km remaining from 121km

Race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) is tucked in behind his teammates at the front of the pack.

Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) has abandoned.

Many riders have their jerseys fully unzipped, trying to keep cool on this hot day.

Riders in the break are rotating with Efimkin currently taking his turn at the front.

Jason McCartney and US champion Ben King are doing the pace-making for RadioShack.

It's an absolutely stunning day with nary a cloud in the sky, just brilliant sunshine.

Chris Horner (RadioShack) looks calm and in control. He showed he had the best climbing legs on Sierra Road. Will we see a repeat of that today?

37km remaining from 121km

Good news for the riders struggling today. At the start of the stage the time cut was increased from 11 percent to 17 percent. Still, it's going to take some serious work to stay in the race.

Timothy Roe (BMC) had a mechanical but regained contact with the fiedl.

35km remaining from 121km

The RadioShack riders setting tempo looked unruffled, letting him go.

The break has 6km to the next KOM.

Three-time world champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) looks at ease, sitting in the field.

The tempo is still strong in the field, however, and group is gradually decreasing in size. Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) is having trouble making contact.

32km remaining from 121km

The field is stretching out, more riders getting popped.

Timothy Roe (BMC) has been dropped but is fighting to regain contact.

Sprint leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) has been dropped.

There looks to be approximately 50-60 riders left in the field.

It's stunning scenery on the climb to the KOM, gently winding. There are small clusters of spectators along the climb with the main concentration at the top.

Leigh Howard (HTC-Highroad) is riding tailgunner now in the field.

Rob Britton just took a pull in the break, and hands things over to Alexander Efimkin.

It looks like Pat McCarty is sitting at the back of the break, saving himself for his upcoming effort for KOM points.

Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team) is calling for the team car at the back of the field.

Maarten Tjallingi (Rabobank) dropped back for bottles and is moving up through the field.

McCarty is moving up near the front of the break.

McCarty took maximum points again at the KOM. We're waiting for full results.

The field crosses the KOM line, led by Ben King. The break is holding at 2:00.

Results for KOM #2

23km remaining from 121km

Mike Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) tucked in at the back of the field.

21km remaining from 121km

While RadioShack have 1-2 with Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer, third overall is held by Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare).

Sutherland's team, UnitedHealthcare, has stated their goal is a podium finish and the Australian is showing impressive form.

More riders are getting popped from the field: Jamey Driscoll, Dan Bowman, Alexander Gottfried.

20km remaining from 121km

Hincapie drifts to the back of the break and calls for his team car.

18km remaining from 121km

Tour of Flanders champion Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank) has slipped off the back of the peloton.

UnitedHealthcare rides are moving to the front of the field, putting Rory Sutherland in position for Mt Baldy.

The gruppetto is 17:30 off the pace.

16km remaining from 121km

Pat McCarty has now been absorbed by the field.

US champion Ben King is doing massive amounts of work in service of Horner and Leipheimer.

Rubens Bertogliati (Team Type 1-Sanofi Aventis) flatted in the field and was none too pleased with the speed of his wheel change.

His work is done. Ben King has now slipped out of the field, accompanied by Pat McCarty.

This is definitely becoming an elite selection chasing the break. More riders, one-by-one getting popped

There goes Oscar Freire (Rabobank) off the back.

14km remaining from 121km

14km remaining from 121km

Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) looking calm near the front of the field.

And Anders Lund (Leopard Trek) bids adieu to the field.

14km remaining from 121km

Talansky still pushing the pace in the break. His teammate Hesjedal is sitting on the back of the 7-man escape.

12km remaining from 121km

Rory Sutherland near the front of the field with two teammates.

10km remaining from 121km

Horner and Leipheimer are behind two teammates at the front, followed by Sutherland.

8km remaining from 121km

There riders are on a slight descent, nearing the start of the Mt Baldy climb.

7km remaining from 121km

Niermann has been dropped from the break and now Talansky is in trouble.

7km remaining from 121km

Niermann is about to be absorbed by the chase effort.

The peloton is down to approximately 25 riders and shrinking.

6km remaining from 121km

Efimkin spinning a low gear tucked in behind Bellotti.

Horner and Leipheimer are second and third in line in the chase group.

The break is totally split.

Efimkin is now alone in the lead.

Hincapie has been caught and dropped.

Britton has been absorbed by the Horner group.

5km remaining from 121km

Andy Schleck on Leipheimer's wheel.

5km remaining from 121km

The Horner group is down to about 8 riders

Bellotti has been caught and dropped by the Horner group. Only Efimkin is in front.

Rory Sutherland is not with the Horner group.

3km remaining from 121km

It's now Horner, Busche, Leipheimer, Ten Dam and Schleck chasing Efimkin.

3km remaining from 121km

Efimkin is out of the saddle on the steep grade, holding a 5-second lead.

Schleck is getting popped while Tom Danielson, Van Garderen and Steve Morabito are fighting their way back to Horner's group.

Efimkin has been caught with 2.9km to go.

It's carnage on Mt. Baldy. Busche pulled off and nearly came to a stop. Ten Dam is in trouble.

2km remaining from 121km

Andy Schleck is cooked, grinding his way uphill.

2km remaining from 121km

They're both out of the saddle, riding away from everyone.

Leipheimer continues to set the pace, with Horner on his wheel.

The RadioShack duo are flying up the climb and are about to see 1km to go.

1km remaining from 121km

Ah, relief from spectator zaniness as the duo are inside the barriers.

It looks like Vande Velde and Schleck are the next riders on the road.

Leipheimer has been doing all the work.

It's levelling off now as the RadioShack pair near the finish line.

Only a few switchbacks remain...

Leipheimer and Horner shake hands near the finish line as Leipheimer wins, Horner second.

Ten Dam finishes third, 40 seconds down

Tom Danielson grabs fourth, 59 seconds back.

Steve Morabito pips Alexander Efimkin for fifth.

And we have a provisional top-10 for the day:

The provisional top-five overall:

Thank you for joining us for the queen stage to Mt. Baldy. Join us tomorrow for the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

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