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Live coverage

Tour of California 2011: Stage 8


Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. Today we'll be bringing you coverage of stage 8, the final day of racing, in which the peloton will travel 132.4km from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks. The race starts at 12:00 PDT.

The final day of racing in the 2011 edition will kick off in approximately 10 minutes.

The peloton is lined up on the start line and will start rolling in one minute.

The riders are half way through the neutral section and will soon see kilometre 0, the start of racing.

There's a Magic Mountain amusement park in the distance and that's where the official racing will commence.

Roller coasters are visible ahead, although the peloton had their own roller coaster ride yesterday en route to the brutal summit finish on Mt. Baldy.

And we're racing!

The stage eight finale winds predominantly downhill for the first 45 kms. The climbers will have one last opportunity to contest the California Travel & Tourism Commission King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey on Balcom Canyon located at kilometre 49.6, although barring catastrophe current mountains leader Pat McCarty (Team Spidertech Powered By C10) has the classification wrapped up.

Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) and Paul Mach (Bissell Cycling) have a slight lead.

Sorry, there's a correction on that attack. It was Jose Fernando Antogna (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling) off the front, but they've been brought back.

128km remaining from 132km

On our way out of Santa Clarita we have dry, high desert hills and yellow grasses alongside the route.

David Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) had a go off the front, but was quickly chased down. The pace is a rather brisk 32mph at the moment.

Today is Christian Vande Velde's  (Garmin-Cervelo) birthday! And check out his new (temporary) ride.

The Cyclingnews crew on the scene in California have been chatting to the teams this morning and the general consensus is that today will be a day for the sprinters.

Jen See spoke to Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), who finished a fine third place yesterday atop Mt Baldy, and he said the team is looking to set up Oscar Freire for a sprint victory today.

The sprinters will have their final two chances to gain points toward the Herbal Life sprint jersey at intermediate sprints located in Moorpark (km 72.9) and on the line at the start of the first circuit in Thousand Oaks (km 93).

Today is the last race for Ben King (RadioShack) in the stars-and-stripes jersey of US road champion.

King's done the jersey proud this week, doing massive amounts of work at the front of the peloton for teammate and race leader Chris Horner.

As a reminder, here's the general classification situation heading into the final day of racing:

RadioShack has been putting on a tour de force performance in defense of Horner's leader's jersey, and today will likely be no different.

As we mentioned before, Pat McCarty has the mountains classification wrapped up after his strong ride yesterday in the break. Here are the standings:

One of the riders looking to close out his Amgen Tour of California with a sprint victory is Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank Sungard).

Please bear with us as we try to sort out the race situation. The CN blimp seems to have lost contact with our crew in the race caravan.

105km remaining from 132km

It's been a tough week for Mike Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth).

And the Cyclingnews crew would like to take a moment to thank our driver Andy Paulin who has done a remarkable job of driving in the race caravan each day to keep us in the midst of all the action.

We have four riders on the attack:

98km remaining from 132km

The theme for the day is "sprinters" and Cyclingnews'  Laura Weislo spoke this morning with Zach Bell (Spidertech Powered by C10), who's a lead-out man for the team's fast man Kevin Lacombe.

Of the four riders on the attack, both Bradley White and Jan Barta have been off the front in previous stages.

Jamis-Sutter Homes and Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth have also been aggressive, putting riders into breaks.

83km remaining from 132km

There are two riders in no man's land between the break and the peloton: Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) and a Jamis-Sutter Home rider who we don't have an ID for yet.

While we discussed Mike Friedman's leg difficulties earlier, it looks like he's feeling inspired today.

We have results for the day's only KOM, the final one of the race:
1. Jan Barta (Team NetApp)
2. Jose Fernando Antogna (Jamis-Sutter Home)
3. Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
4. Michael Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)

The cars are being pulled out of the gap between the field and the second group on the road, looks like Hernandez and the Jamis-Sutter Home rider are going to be absorbed.

While the Amgen Tour of California had its queen stage yesterday, across the ocean at the Giro d'Italia the peloton had their's today, an absolutely brutal day in the mountains. Read all about the day's action here.

And back here at the Amgen Tour of California, two more riders who should figure prominently in the final stage's endgame are Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Frank Pipp (Bissell).

66km remaining from 132km

And our mystery chaser has been identified.

We've had some hijinks in the peloton as Charles Wegelius (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) picked up a giant foam hand from a spectator on the side of the road, dropped back to the back of the peloton, and used it his gigantic hand to signal for service.

60km remaining from 132km

Hernandez and Gaimon have been absorbed by the peloton so there's just the four man break off the front.

Here are the results for the day's first intermediate sprint in Moorpark:

RadioShack is at the head of the peloton, tapping out the tempo.

58km remaining from 132km

George Hincapie (BMC) is getting a new rear wheel from his team car.

Mauro Da Dalto (Liguigas-Cannondale) had to stop to take care of a mechanical, but he's made his way back to the field.

56km remaining from 132km

Liquigas-Cannondale is now setting tempo as the field is climbing.

Race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) is smiling as usual, riding comfortably in the field.

50km remaining from 132km

Cameron Wurf (Liquigas-Cannondale) had rolled off the front of the field on the climb, from the look on his face by accident, but he's back in the pack.

The break is about 7km away from entering the finishing circuit, on which they'll do five, 7.9km laps.

Two of the stars of the Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders champion Nick Nuyens and Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Van Summeren are rolling along in the peloton, chatting away.

45km remaining from 132km

The riders are no longer in the countryside, but in the suburban streets of Thousand Oaks.

Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad) leads the best young rider's classification and has that classification wrapped up. He'll be working for his team's sprinters today.

Our four leaders, Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Jan Barta (Team NetApp), Jose Fernando Antogna (Jamis-Sutter Home) and Michael Friedman (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), are inside of 4km away from the day's second sprint line.

Saxo Bank Sungard, HTC-Highroad and Liquigas-Cannondale are sharing the pace-making duties at the front of the peloton. RadioShack is tucked in behind them.

At the front, Friedman flicks his elbow and Antogna comes through.

40km remaining from 132km

The break has turned onto the finishing circuit and are closing in on their first view of the finish line.

39km remaining from 132km

Results for the second intermediate sprint in Thousand Oaks:

Theh peloton has crossed the finish line, 2:35 behind the break.

The final circuit isn't exactly flat.

36km remaining from 132km

34km remaining from 132km

Frank Pipp (Bissell) is getting a new rear wheel. There will be some work to get back into the peloton.

31km remaining from 132km

The majority of the finishing circuit has wide-open streets. There's some twists and turns but nothing too technical.

The peloton crosses the finish line and has cut the break's lead to 1:30.

Timothy Roe (BMC) is riding tailgunner in the peloton.

30km remaining from 132km

Leopard Trek and Rabobank on the attack.

Martin Mortensen (Leopard Trek) and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) have a small gap on the field.

Mortensen and Tjallingi are 25 seconds up on the field.

27km remaining from 132km

25km remaining from 132km

25km remaining from 132km

The break sees 300m to the finish line. Three laps to go.

23km remaining from 132km

Mortensen and Tjallingi are working hard and trail the break by 39 seconds.

The peloton now has three laps to go...and has cut the lead of the four escapees to one minute.

21km remaining from 132km

21km remaining from 132km

Mortensen and Tjallingi can see the break and are desperately trying to make contact.

Another acceleration by Friedman.

19km remaining from 132km

Mortensen and Tjallingi are about to reach the break.

White has popped.

We now have a lead group of five: Barta, Friedman and Antogna have been joined by Mortensen and Tjallingi.

17km remaining from 132km

Mortensen and Tjallingi are doing a two man rotation at the front of the break, driving the pace.

Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) has been absorbed by the peloton.

The break is nearing the finish line and will see 2 laps to go.

15km remaining from 132km

Liquigas-Cannondale paces the peloton through the finish line and has cut the break's lead to 20 seconds.

Antogna has been dropped from the break.

Friedman has been dropped and is caught by the field.

We now have Barta, Mortensen and Tjallingii in front.

13km remaining from 132km

Barta is having trouble staying with Mortensen and Tjallingii...

HTC-Highroad is driving the peloton, strung out single file.

Barta isn't pulling through any longer and is just trying to stay in contact with Mortensen and Tjallingii.

12km remaining from 132km

11km remaining from 132km

9km remaining from 132km

Linus Gerdemann had a mechanical and swaps bikes with a teammate. Jakob Fuglsang is now pacing Gerdemann back to the field.

The break's on the finishing straight amidst a corridor of noise.

7km remaining from 132km

7km remaining from 132km

Mortensen refuses to cede and gets out of the saddle at the front of the break.

6km remaining from 132km

Mortensen asks Barta to help...

5km remaining from 132km

5km remaining from 132km

HTC-Highroad and Sky are at the front.

Saxo Bank Sungard is there too.

Tejay Van Garderen working to lead-out his team's sprinter.

3km remaining from 132km

Peter Sagan has teammates with him, looking to set up the sprint competition leader for another win.

Three Saxo Bank riders drive the pelton.

2km remaining from 132km

1km remaining from 132km

Sky has jumped HTC, now lead. Rabobank jerseys up there too.

And here comes Liguigas-Cannondale...

Inside the final kilometre!

The sprinters fanned out across the road iin a drag race to the line and Matt Goss takes it!

Sagan was closing fast and appears to get second.

And race leader Chris Horner (RadioShack) rolls across the line with his arms aloft, your 2011 Amgen Tour of California champion.

Here's the provisional top-10 for stage 8:

The top of the GC remained unchanged, with Horner taking the overall win:

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