Hello and welcome to stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California, an 18.4 mile (29.7km) individual time trial in Bakersfield.
Today the peloton faces the race of truth in Bakersfield. The first rider, Wilson Marentes (Colombia-Coldeportes), will start shortly at 1pm local time.
Riders will roll out of the start house at one minute intervals until the final 15 competitors, who will start with two-minute gaps. Last out of the start house will be race leader Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondlae) at 3:12pm local time.
The Amgen Tour of California has completed four of the eight stages and the first half of the race has been utterly dominated by Slovak champion Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale). Sagan has won all four stages and leads three classifications: overall, points and best young rider.
Yesterday's stage win in Clovis was the seventh of Sagan's (young) career at the Amgen Tour of California (he's only 22 years old!), which breaks the old record of six stage wins held by three-time overall champion Levi Leipheimer.
The Amgen Tour of California has been to Bakersfield before as the fifth stage of the 2010 edition finished there, but this is the first time the city has hosted a time trial. On that day none other than Peter Sagan prevailed on the tough finale to win his first career stage at the Tour of California. He followed that up the next day with another, he won one stage in 2011 and has added four more in 2012.
Here's the top of the general classification after four stages:
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 19:52:52
2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:16
3 Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:34
4 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:35
5 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy 0:00:36
6 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling
7 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
8 Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:37
9 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:38
10 Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:39
All of the overall general classification contenders have kept their powder dry thus far, so today we'll see how much the general classification changes. All of the GC hopefuls are clustered together at 40 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan.
There's quite a lot of time trial talent in the peloton between those with overall ambitions as well as several TT specialists who have looked forward to getting to Bakersfield with as much left in the tank as possible through the first four days of racing.
Here's a description of the 18.4mi/29.7km out-and-back course: Right from the start, the riders will go from zero to nearly 60 mph in a matter of seconds. The start ramp will launch them onto an immediate descent to Alfred Harrel Highway. From there, it will be a straight – but not exactly flat – route to the turnaround point at Lake Ming.
The route is full of 100-foot rollers, and as the riders approach the finish, they’ll be able to see it… up on a 300-foot bluff. The prepared rider will have saved a little for the China Grade, which presents an eight percent climb to the top and then a hard left, and it won’t be over there. The riders will still face a slightly uphill, .44-mile run to the finish.
It's absolutely baking hot here today in Bakersfield.
The view from the start ramp is of the brown, barren landscape in the distance.
Carter Jones (Bissell Cycling) has left the start house, the eighth rider to head out on the course today.
Regarding the heat, Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) mentioned earlier today on Twitter that he's looking forward to the final meters, then jumping in the swimming pool. Quite a few riders will likely share that sentiment today!
Robbie McEwen (Orica-GreenEdge) will be starting momentarily. The 2012 Amgen Tour of California is the final race of the veteran Australian's career.
McEwen finished up a press conference today at 12:20pm and was still not kitted up. Clearly he's not concerned about warming up today.
In the press conference McEwen said he's been struggling every day to finish. He joked that with today's time cut at 25 percent he thinks he can make it. However, there's two tough days of climbing to negotiate before Sunday's finale in Los Angeles. He really wants to make it to the finish in Los Angeles to close out his career. McEwen doesn't want to either miss the time cut or be forced to abandon on the upcoming mountain stages.
Last year's time trial, held in Solvang, was won by David Zabriskie in a new course record. Levi Leipheimer finished second, followed by Tejay Van Garderen in third.
Eight of the top nine finishers from last year's time trial are back today to contest the parcours in Bakersfield. In addition to Zabriskie, Leipheimer and Van Garderen, we have Peter Velits (4th in 2011), Maarten Tjallingii (5th in 2011), Chris Horner (6th in 2011), Jeremy Vennell (8th in 2011) and Rory Sutherland (9th in 2011).
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) has clocked 18:31 at the intermediate time check.
Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes) clocks 19:11 at the turn around.
Two strong time trialers are out on the course - Scott Zwizanski (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Jeremy Vennell (Bissell)
2008 world time trial champion Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has started. He typically powers a gigantic gear which makes my knees hurt to watch.
Kittel has passed Marentes out on the course. The German sprinter must really want to hit the pool!
Cyclingnews' Pat Malach spoke to Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), who's currently 8th overall on GC: "My legs are a little sore, but I hope less sore than the other guys. It's a tricky course. We reconned it this morning and it really depends on what the winds are doing. Coming back you can really lose time on the little rise. I'm used to the heat, it shouldn't bother me."
Marcel Kittel sees 5km to go. He started second and will be the first rider to finish, having passed his minute-man Wilson Marentes.
Scott Zwizanski (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) has the best intermediate time thus far: 16:35.
Other top intermediate split times include Christophe Riblon (AG2R)) at 16:38 and Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) at 16:46.
1km to go for Logan Loader (Team Exergy)
Travis Meyer (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team) finishes with 38:53. He passed four riders in his effort.
Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) finishes in 42:51.
Juan Pablo Suarez Suarez (Colombia-Coldeportes) in with 42:59
Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale) currently has the best time at 38:22
43:10 for Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Spidertech Powered By C10)
Morgan Schmitt (Team Exergy) has an intermediate time of 18:08 while Michael Creed (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) records a split time of 17:19
Kristijan Koren (Liquigas-Cannondale) has set best intermediate split of 16:28
Garmin-Barracuda's Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson are warming up in the shadow of their team bus with large crowds watching them. Danielson has opted for large headphones for pre-race music, while Zabriskie goes with earbuds.
New fastest intermediate split by Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) - 16:10
Koos Moerenhout of Rabobank spoke to Cyclingnews today and thought Maarten Tjallingii could finish top-10. Moerenhout is also curious to see what Levi Leipheimer can do as it's the first time he'll have to go all out since returning to racing after breaking his leg.
Mauro Da Dalto (Liquigas-Cannondale) has finished in 40:26, good enough for the 5th best time thus far.
Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Barracuda) has an intermediate time of 17:30
Scott Zwizanski has recorded the new best time, waiting for confirmation of his time.
38:21 for Scott Zwizanski (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), one second faster than previous best time set by Christophe Riblon.
Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team) in with the 6th best time.
Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) has the new best time of 38:10, bouncing Zwizanski from the hot seat.
Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Barracuda) told Cyclingnews after his finish today that the course is deceptively difficult. He said pacing is tough to judge with the downhill start and unpredictable winds. Rathe said he's conserving energy for the upcoming mountain stages and rode a 42 kph pace to make the time cut today.
Wow, impressive effort from Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team) with a new best time of 36:51, 1:19 ahead of Grabsch.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has rolled out of the start house...
Cyclingnews' Pat Malach reports that Liquigas-Cannondale won the team parking battle in Bakersfield, finding the only spot in the shade.
38:13 for Thomas Zirbel (Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), the third best time. Unfortunately Zirbel had a mechanical during his ride.
Captain America, US time trial champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda), has started his time trial to a strong round of applause.
Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) now has the fastest split time, one second faster than Tjallingii.
Three-time Amgen Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) is out on the course. He's been cagey about his form after breaking his leg and now we'll find out how's he's truly feeling...
Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo spoke to Jens Voigt yesterday. Here's what he had to say about such topics as Peter Sagan and when he'll retire...
Zabriskie is closing in on his minute-man Yannick Eijssen (BMC).
Paris-Roubaix champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) has finished. Jens Voigt has 2km to go.
Zabriskie flies past the 20km to go course marker.
Victor Hugo Pena (Colombia-Coldeportes) finishes in 39:02, followed soon after by Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan) who's set a new best time of 36:22!
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) is out on the course and is outstanding against the clock. Look for a good time from the Australian.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda) has left the start house.
New best intermediate split time from David Zabriskie - 15:50. The US time trial champion has gone through 19 seconds fasgter than Voigt.
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) has started his time trial. The 23-year-old American is an excellent time trialist and recently finished a close second to Bradley Wiggins in the final time trial of the Tour de Romandie as well as overall on GC.
Tejan Van Garderen (BMC) has started.
Levi Leipheimer has gone through the intermediate split in 16:45.
It's a blazing 100.6 degrees F (38.1 C) in Bakersfield.
Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan) has recorded the third best time, while Liquigas-Cannondale workhorse Timmy Duggan is in for a fine sixth place.
Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) has recorded 16:47 at the intermediate split, 15th best.
Bram Tankink (Rabobank) finished with 37:59, fourth fastest. Meanwhile, Zabriskie is about to pass his three-minute man Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare).
A solid 16:59 at the split for Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Coldeportes).
Nathan Brown (Bontrager Livestrong) just finished with the third best time. An excellent result for the development squad.
Robert Gesink (Rabobank) has recorded a 16:05 at the intermediate split while Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) has gone through with 16:18.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) has finished in 37:51, good for fifth place right now.
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) passes intermediate split in 16:08 while teammate Tom Danielson is through in 16:19.
Zabriskie is climbing to the finish. How fast will his time be?
New best time for David Zabriskie! First inside 36 minutes with a 35:59.21
However, Tejay Van Garderen has just set a new best time at the intermediate split with 15:48, two seconds faster than Zabriskie.
2011 Amgen Tour of California champion Chris Horner is through the intermediate split in 16:43.
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has finished in 37:43, the fourth fastest time today thus far.
He put in a solid second half effort to record that time.
Chris Horner sees 10km to go...
Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) finishes with 37:09
George Hincapie (BMC) records the third-fastest split time.
Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) clocks 37:25 at the finish.
Peter Velits through intermediate split in 15:56, new third-fastest.
Robert Gesink (Raboank) powers to the finish and stops the clock in 36:38. Third-best time for the Dutch climber.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Rabobank) records a 15:55 for the intermediate split.
Cyclingnews spoke to third-place overall on GC, Jeff Louder (UnitedHealthcare), this morning: "My expectations are not too high to retain my GC spot, but I'll give it a dig. It's been great and served a purpose. I'm looking forward to the weekend and what we have to do."
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), the GC leader, is now out on the course.
After yesterday's stage win Sagan said, "Tomorrow I think I will lose this [leader's] jersey. I will do bye bye. I don't time trial well. Maybe I try when I feel good on Big Bear for another stage, but we will see." However, last year Sagan finished the Solvang time trial in 14th place, 1:15 off the winning time, so he didn't actually phone it in. We just have to wait and see what happens today and see if we add to the Peter Sagan legend...
Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Barracuda) in with 36:47.
Tejay Van Garderen is on the finishing stretch and has already passed Horner.
Tejan Van Garderen (BMC) in with 37:20, ninth best so far today.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) finishes with 38:49.
Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) through the intermediate split in 16:22.
Horner conceded 2:50 to Zabriskie in the time trial.
So amongst the GC contenders, we now have Zabriskie on top with Gesink at 39", Talansky at 48", Ten Dam at 1:07, Van Garderen at 1:21, Leipheimer at 1:44, Nibali at 1:52 and Horner at 2:50.
Fast Freddie Rodriguez (Exergy) is through the intermediate split in 16:12.
George Hincapie (BMC) records a solid 37:29, for 12th place.
Another good result for the Bontrager-Livestrong development team as Lawson Craddock is in with 11th best time.
Sixth-fastest time for Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) - 36:48
The last man out on the road, Peter Sagan, is through the intermediate split in 16:35
There's been a revision regarding Tejay Van Garderen's time, he's now in third place on the day, 34 seconds behind Zabriskie.
Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare) in with 38:09
Markel Irizar (RadioShack-Nissan) clocks the 14th fastest time.
Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) crosses the finish line with 38:38. Five riders left out on the course.
Fred Rodriguez (Exergy) records a time of 38:12, good for 29th place.
Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda) crosses the finish line in 40:30. He's had a solid strong spring campaign in Europe this year.
Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) has finished so only Peter Sagan is still out on the course.
Peter Sagan can see the finish line...
Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) waves to the crowd as he rolls across the finish line in 39:26, good for 52nd place.
So there you have it. The Bakersfield time trial has shuffled the general classification and created the first time gaps amongst the overall contenders. After four consecutive stage wins by Peter Sagan, David Zabriskie has won the fifth stage and takes over the leader's jersey from the young Slovak champion.
Brief stage results 1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:35:59 2 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:23 3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:34 4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:39 5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:48 6 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:49 7 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:52 8 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:01 9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:07 10 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:01:10
Brief stage results
1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 35:59
2 Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:00:23
3 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:34
4 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:39
5 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:48
6 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:49
7 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:52
8 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:01
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:07
10 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:01:10
General classification after stage 5
1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 20:29:31
2 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:34
3 Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:39
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:48
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:49
6 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:01
7 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:07
8 Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:01:10
9 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:26
10 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:01:29
Thanks for joining us today. Stay tuned tomorrow for stage 6 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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