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Tour of California 2012: Stage 3


Hello and welcome to stage 3 of the Amgen Tour of California, 185.5km from San Jose to Livermore and featuring the first ascent of Mt Diablo in the California race's history. Racing will commence at 2:15 PDT with a brief neutral section (1.3 miles/2.0km) and then the peloton will begin the day's action.

Hello Amgen Tour of California race fans! It's a beautiful sunny day in San Jose at the start line. There's a cool breeze now but it will get pretty warm later this afternoon.

The peloton is now in motion, but in the short neutral section to get out of town.

This year, the typical downtown start has been moved to north San Jose, just a few miles from the infamous Sierra Road climb. The Sierra Road climb, scene of Chris Horner's stage win last year which paved the way for his overall victory, will be bypassed this year, however in favor of the more rider-friendly Calaveras Road.

The first KOM is at 8.4km in - wakey wakey legs!

Oops, Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda) must've missed the start, he was motor pacing behind the neutral support car at about 35mph

San Jose is the only city to be included in all seven editions of the Amgen Tour of California either as a host for either a stage start or finish.

A bit more about today's route from San Jose to Livermore: The peloton will pass through Livermore for the first time 28 miles into the stage, with sprint points awarded downtown. The riders will then make an 87-mile clockwise loop north of Livermore which features Mt Diablo, a popular Bay Area climb, that awaits as a new addition to the race.

While all 128 riders finished yesterday's stage into Santa Cruz, unfortunately for a pair of Bissell Racing riders, Patrick Bevin and Eric Young, they crossed the finish line outside of the time cut and were eliminated from the race.

We have two non-starters today, BMC Racing's Steve Cummings and Steve Morabito. after yesterday's crash with 4km to go. Jim Ochowicz said Cummings re-injured the same wrist he broke 6 weeks ago, and Morabito hurt his shoulder. They're getting X-rays today.

It was also a rough day yesterday for UnitedHealthcare's Rory Sutherland and Chris Jones, who also were involved in a crash earlier in the stage, the same incident which brought down race leader Peter Sagan. Read all about it here.

So far in the Amgen Tour of California it's been the Peter Sagan show. The 22-year-old Slovak champion leads overall after winning both of the stages contested thus far. Additionally, he leads the points and young riders classifications too. It hasn't been a completely smooth affair for Sagan, however, as on the opening stage he flatted with 10km, managed to chase back on and then avoided a crash with 3km to go en route to a field sprint victory.

In yesterday's stage into Santa Cruz, Sagan crashed on a climb, but showing considerable poise and composure for such a young rider he calmly picked himself off the tarmac and rejoined the peloton. Sagan handled the route's final corner, about 200 meters from the finish, perfectly and opened up a several bike length lead in the dash to the finish line for the victory.

Here's the top of the general classification after two stages:

Two riders are on the attack and are about 1km from the first KOM: Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling), Michael Friedman (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies)

There's a small chase group behind them and the field is at 40 seconds

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo spoke to Jonas Carney, director of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Stategies, prior to the stage and he thinks that Mt. Diablo won't do much on the GC, he expects the guys will mark each other there because it's so far from the finish. The last climb on Patterson Pass is closer to the finish than the climbs of the previous two stages, so he thinks it will be a smaller group sprint, but says Sagan won't have any trouble getting over it.

Carney also stated that the team's main goal now is to move Sebastian Salas into the KOM jersey, he's second behind David Boily.

And with that, let's take a look at the top of the Amgen Tour of California mountains classification standings:

We have results for the day's first KOM on Calaveras Road:

Those four riders, plus Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)

It appears that there are only four riders in the lead group, Sébastian Salas (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Spidertech Powered By C10), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling), Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes)

It appears that there are only four riders in the lead group, Sébastian Salas (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Spidertech Powered By C10), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling), Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes) , and they're now 1:10 over the peloton, which is intact.

It appears that there are only four riders in the lead group, Sébastian Salas (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Spidertech Powered By C10), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling), Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes)

The leaders have extended their advantage to 3:25 over the peloton.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo also spoke to Ben King (RadioShack-Nissan) prior to today's stage and he said he's ready for another day of clawing back breakaways, but said it's not really his team's responsibility since they're not in the jersey. "10 minutes, 12 minutes, it hasn't been that much of a problem yet."

160km remaining from 185km

We've seen the top of the GC and mountains classifications, so here's the point classification leaders:

We have an update about the two Bissell riders who missed the time cut yesterday. Patrick Bevin was having back problems while Eric Young has been fatigued from a heavy early schedule this year.

And now race radio stated that Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell Cycling) has abandoned, so it's a bit of a bad patch for the American Continental squad as they're now down to five riders.

In addition to leading overall and the points classification, Peter Sagan leads the young riders classification:

It's thusly no surprise that Orica-GreenEdge's Matt Wilson told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo today that he considers Peter Sagan "the most freakish talent in the bunch right now".

There are three categorised climbs in stage 3: Calaveras Road (Cat. 4) at 5.2 miles (8.4km), Mt. Diablo (Cat. 2) at 54.3 miles (87.4km) and Patterson Pass (Cat. 3) at 105.9 miles (170.5km). Canada's David Boily (Spidertech Powered By C10) led the classification at the start, but Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling), who started the day second overall, is in the break and already won the first climb.

151km remaining from 185km

Riders in the peloton are feeding now, and the gap to the break is rising.

149km remaining from 185km

Mike Creed (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) was in yesterday's break and spoke with Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo before the start of today's stage. Regarding the break, he said he was bummed that they didn't get more time. There was one point where he heard there was no chase behind and he tried to get everyone to ride harder, but they wouldn't agree to it.

145km remaining from 185km

Cyclingnews' Pat Malach spoke to the Bissell team prior to the Amgen Tour of California and they stated that their mission was to to on the attack. Indeed, they're living up to that plan. Read the article here.

The leaders have reached Livermore proper with a lead of 4:30 over the peloton.

Livermore is out in force to great the peloton. Fans are lining the four-lane road into town.

By the way, if you have any questions or comments you can reach me, Peter Hymas, on twitter via my Italian alter ego @pietrohymasini.

And we have results of the intermediate sprint in Livermore:

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo spoke to a well-known member of the Colombia-Coldeportes team, Victor Hugo Pena, about his role in ushering in the next generation of Colombian cycling talent, including Wilson Marentes who's currently in the break. You may remember that Pena was a domestique for Lance Armstrong during his Tour de France reign and the Colombian spent several days in the yellow jersey himself. Read the news article here.

134km remaining from 185km

Next up for the peloton is the ascent of Mt. Diablo, with its summit situated 54.3 miles (87.4km) into the stage. Earlier this year Bruce Hildebrand wrote a nice item for Cyclingnews about the climb, making its Amgen Tour of California debut shortly.

129km remaining from 185km

It's good to see Pat McCarty (Spidertech Powered by C10) on the attack. The 30-year-old American has had a rough start to his season due to illness, but his form is coming around. McCarty won the KOM classification at last year's Amgen Tour of California. Read about McCarty and his team, a Canada-based Pro Continental squad, here.

126km remaining from 185km

Regarding the other riders in the break, Wilson Marentes (Colombia-Coldeportes) is a 26-year-old Colombian who's had a European campaign thus far this season prior to the Amgen Tour of California. He finished 21st in Italy's Strade Bianche, rode Tirreno-Adriatico and Criterium International and most recently completed the Tour of Turkey. He finished second in Colombia's time trial national championship last year and won a stage of his home Vuelta a Colombia in 2008

The break has gone through the feed zone and their lead has grown to 6:30. The Liquigas-Cannondale team of race leader Peter Sagan is setting tempo in the peloton.

The children of Tassajara Hills school are out along the race route greeting the Amgen Tour of California riders. You never know from where future champions may emerge, perhaps some of those children will be inspired enough to take up the sport.

We have an update on the condition of UnitedHealthcare's Chris Jones and Rory Sutherland: Chris Jones started today with 20 stitches in his knee. When the crash on Empire Grade happened yesterday he fell into the wheel of a BMC rider, which was still spinning, and with the aero spokes used in wheels today it sliced his knee clean open to the kneecap.

116km remaining from 185km

Jeremy Vennell (Bissell), a member of the four-man break, was on the attack yesterday as well and claimed the Amgen Tour of California Most Courageous Rider Jersey. He's a 31-year-old New Zealand native and has been on the Bissell squad since 2008. Some highlights from this season include a third-place finish in the New Zealand road championships and a third-place finish in upstate New York's Tour of the Battenkill, the first UCI race in the United States of the 2012 season.

The peloton slowed during and after the feed zone to take on sustenance and as a result the break's lead edged up to 7:40.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) has finished in second place on each of the two Amgen Tour of California stages contested thus far. Will he top the podium today? Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo conducted a video interview of the Aussie after yesterday's stage.

The break has started the climb of Mt. Diablo with an eight-minute lead over the peloton.

Some information about Mt. Diablo, from the Bruce Hildenbrand article earlier this year:

106km remaining from 185km

The break, consisting of Sébastian Salas (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Spidertech Powered By C10), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling) and Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes), have a lead of 8:40. There are HUGE crowds on the upper slopes of Mt. Diablo.

105km remaining from 185km

103km remaining from 185km

The peloton is climbing at 13mph (20.9 km/h).

Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) is the highest-ranked rider on general classification in 78th @14:19. Sebastian Salas is in 90th @ 18:08, Pat McCarty holds 94th @ 18:49, while Wilson Marentes is in 121st @ 26:53, so none of these riders are overall GC threats.

The four leaders are together in the approach to the Mt. Diablo summit while the peloton is all together lower down the slope. Nobody's been droppped from the field yet.

The break passes the 1km to go sign for the KOM.

Salas has topped Mt. Diablo first and the break is now negotiating the screaming descent off the KOM line. We'll provide full KOM results for the KOM shortly.

The peloton trails the break by 8:00 as they see 1km to the Mt. Diablo KOM.

Salas has lost contact with the break on the descent.

Results for the Mt. Diablo KOM:

It's quite a battle between Team Optum p/ Kelly Benefit Strategies and Spidertech powered by C10 for mountains classification supremacy.

The race is currently running behind the slowest schedule, which is for a 22mph average speed.

Bruce Hildenbrand has supplied a bit more information about Mt. Diablo: "South Gate Road used to have huge potholes on it's lower slopes and looked like a bombed out airfield. Thanks to the Amgen Tour of California the road was repaved just before the race. Yet another benefit of the race coming to town.

82km remaining from 185km

Laurens Ten Dam (Raboank) has flatted in the peloton, but has bridged back. Meanwhile, Vennell is taking a pull at the head of the break.

Liquigas-Cannondale is firmly planted at the head of the peloton, tapping out the tempo.

There seems like there's momentarily some disagreement in the break as Vennell took a slight lead, but they're back together.

Marentes now takes a pull as Vennell slips to the back of the rotation in the break.

78km remaining from 185km

It seems that the break is once again working smoothly, but the peloton is starting to slowly chip away at their advantage which is now down to 7:05.

Liquigas-Cannondale is flexing their muscles at the head of the peloton and the field is getting stretched out in their wake. The break's lead has dropped down inside of seven minutes.

Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is also at the head of affairs in the peloton in service of team leader Levi Leipheimer.

Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda), race runner-up for two days running, sports number 13 on his back. Frequently a pro will turn one of the numbers upside down for good luck, but Haussler hasn't opted for that configuration, running them both normally. Maybe he needs to flip one upside down to reverse his fortunes...

69km remaining from 185km

Jeremy Vennell and Wilson Marentes have now attacked their breakaway companions.

The peloton is continuing to chip away at the break's lead which is now at 5:45. Wilson Marentes has a chat with his team manager at the head of affairs.

62km remaining from 185km

58km remaining from 185km

For the moment the break's lead has stabilized at about 6:00. Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) and Wilson Marentes (Colombia-Coldeportes) continue to share the workload at the head of the race.

52km remaining from 185km

Argos-Shimano has also placed a main near the head of the peloton to assist in the pursuit of the break.

50km remaining from 185km

47km remaining from 185km

Frantisek Rabon is certainly earning his paycheck today for Omega Pharma-Quickstep as he continues to drive the pace in the peloton. The break's gap is now at 4:15, largely due to the work of the powerhouse Czech.

Pat McCarty is back in the peloton after his stint in the break and is chatting with Spidertech teammate David Boily, who's wearing the mountains classification jersey but may have to surrender it at the end of the stage.

42km remaining from 185km

Sebastian Salas (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) has earned enough points today to take over the mountains classification jersey at stage end.

38km remaining from 185km

38km remaining from 185km

The break continues to work smoothly in the race lead on a stretch of wide-open terrain. In the distance scores of wind turbines can be seen on the ridge line.

37km remaining from 185km

Omega Pharma-Quickstep now has five riders at the head of the peloton setting the tempo. Is today a day for Tom Boonen?

32km remaining from 185km

The climb to Patterson Pass will be upon the riders soon. The category 3 climb's summit is at 9.3 miles (15km) to go and the break may be reeled in before the climbing commences.

27km remaining from 185km

25km remaining from 185km

23km remaining from 185km

The race has turned onto Patterson Pass Road.

21km remaining from 185km

The wind is picking up at the finish.

A Colombia-Coldeportes rider has attacked and has a slight gap.

BMC, Garmin and Rabobank are on the front of the peloton and the Colombia-Coldeportes rider's gap isn't much.

20km remaining from 185km

Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) is slipping off the back of the peloton.

Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) sets tempo at the head of the peloton

Nicolas Roche (AG2R) and Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Coldeportes) have opened a gap on the peloton.

17km remaining from 185km

Roche now takes his turn setting the pace. Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondlae) is at the head of the peloton leading the chase.

16km remaining from 185km

Duggan did yeoman's work in the finale of yesterday's stage to set up teammate Peter Sagan, and once again he's at the front.

The turns on the climb are gently sweeping and the break is still within sight of the field.

16km remaining from 185km

Plenty of tifosi await the riders atop the Patterson Pass climb. Duarte and Roche are still holding off the peloton which hasn't been reduced too significantly on the climb.

An Argos-Shimano rider is trying to bridge to Roche and Duarte.

15km remaining from 185km

The peloton trails Duarte and Roche by 18 seconds over the KOM. Robbie McEwen has been dropped on the climb.

12km remaining from 185km

11km remaining from 185km

Not sure if this jinxes Roche, but can he finally earn AG2R-La Mondiale's first win of the season? Laura Weislo spoke to the Irishman earlier.

10km remaining from 185km

8km remaining from 185km

7km remaining from 185km

...which has come to naught. Peloton all together gearing up for a field sprint.

6km remaining from 185km

5km remaining from 185km

4km remaining from 185km

Defending Amgen Tour of California champion Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) is being escorted by teammates up to the front.

3km remaining from 185km

Argos-Shimano is moving their train up next to Rabobank, and AG2R-La Mondiale is now setting the pace.

1km remaining from 185km

1km remaining from 185km

No one team has control of the sprint now

Through the last corner!

Through the last corner!

Haussler led out the sprint, but once again Peter Sagan has claimed victory. Amazing.

Looks like Haussler may have been runner-up for the third straight day, followed by Boonen.

Confirmed, Haussler in second, followed by Boonen. Alex Candelario (Optum) took fourth, followed by Lloyd Mondory (AG2R) in fifth. And in celebration Sagan has popped a wheelie on his way to the podium.

Provisional top-10 results for stage 3:

Peter Sagan, of course, continues as general classification leader at the Amgen Tour of California.

Provisional top-5 for general classification:

Thanks for joining us today! Stay tuned tomorrow for stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California and of course earlier tomorrow we'll bring you live updates from the Giro d'Italia.

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