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Live coverage

Tour of California 2012: Stage 6


 Good day race fans and welcome to's Live Coverage of the sixth stage of the Amgen Tour of California, a 187.3-kilometer race from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake.

I'm Charles Pelkey, and I'm back for the second of four guest appearances here for the Amgen Tour.

Today's route features four ranked climbs:
The Category 4 climb up Mt. Emma, which summits at 22.2km;
The Cat. 1 climb at Wrightwood, which summits at 69.6km;
The Cat. 3 on California 138, which summits at 122.4;
The Cat. 3 on California State Highway 1B, which summits at 139.1km.

The road continues upward after that last rated climb, but it's a relatively flat ride over the last 30km to the finish at Big Bear Lake.

With that flat run to the finish, there are likely to be quite a few riders in the mix at the end of the stage.

Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) expects that to be the case:

"Historically, this has been a bunch finish," he told CyclingNews. "It could be more selective, like a group of 20 or 30 instead of 60. It's nothing like (Mt.) Baldy will be, though."

The peloton is still in the neutral zone and we should be seeing the start here soon.

Will the wind be a factor today? Optum Pro Cycling director Jonas Carney said that last time the ATOC visited this route, "everyone was worried about the wind. It turned out to be a tailwind, which helped."

But even with the help of a tailwind, Carney predicts "it will be nuclear" on the slopes of the Category 1 climb today.

And they're off!

The attacks came quickly and we already have a group of six riders off the front.

It's Garmin taking up the chase in the peloton.

United Health Care's Marc de Maar said he expects there to be some serious action on the big climb today and on the long uphill approach to Big Bear.

"Two years ago, RadioShack drilled it with 60k to go. Today kinda depends on what they want to do." 


RadioShack has Gregory Rast in the break.

He is joined by Mickaël Chérel (Fra), Ag2r; Yukihiro Doi (Jpn), Argos-Shimano; David Boily (Can), SpiderTech; Jeremy Vennell (NZl), Bissell and Andrew Bajadali (USA), Optum

At 10km, the gap is 45 seconds.

At 12km, the gap is now 1:10.

We have a rider from Colombia-Coldeportes attacking out of the peloton, hoping to bridge up to the group ahead.

No huge panic in the field. Our race leader has stopped to respond to a call from nature.

We're moving up to the day's first climb.

168km remaining from 186km

As our leaders head up to Mt. Emma, they've an advantage of 2:15 over the peloton.

It's clear and sunny today and not nearly as warm as it was yesterday.

It was quite windy at the start, but it appears to be a bit calmer on the slopes of the climb.

The forecast calls for temperatures around 70 at the finish in Big Bear. All in all, it should be a nice day for a bike race.

165km remaining from 186km

Our six leaders are coming up to the KOM mark on Mt. Emma. They are holding on to an advantage of 3:05.

 Our leaders are now coursing down the descent of Mt. Emma. From here it's a long 60k or so to the day's big hurdle.

It looks like we are going to have an interesting KOM battle today

Results of the KOM at Mt. Emma:
1. David Boily, Spidertech
2. Sebastian Salas, Optum Pro Cycling
3. Andrew Bajadali, Optum Pro Cycling
4. Gregory Rast. RadioShack-Nissan

160km remaining from 186km

150km remaining from 186km

 Omega Pharma-Quick Step director Wilfried Peeters told CyclingNews today that he also expects RadioShack to pour on the gas today.

"At this point, they have nothing to lose," he said, referring to Chris Horner's time losses over the past days. Horner had a tough time trial yesterday, losing 2:50 to race leader Dave Zabriskie.

145km remaining from 186km

143km remaining from 186km

144km remaining from 186km

Peeters said he's not expecting that his team's Tom Boonen will be in the mix at the finish today, noting that the course doesn't exactly suit Boonen's skill set.

136km remaining from 186km

Our leaders are passing through Valyermo, home to St. Andrew's Abbey, the Bendictine Monastery. 

The medical car has rolled up to the break to offer help to one of the riders up there.

The men in the break are continuing to build their advantage over the field. They're approaching 7:00 as they are working their way up the lower slopes of the day's big climb.

Jeremy Vennell is getting a wheel change from the Bissell team car. He's lost contact with the break and has to chase back on by himself.

Our own Laura Weislo says she passed by a big group of Team Helen's riders, who are doing the route ahead of the peloton, hoping to share in the experience, I guess.

130km remaining from 186km

129km remaining from 186km

For those of you waiting for the video feed, that is slated to start at 2:00 p.m. local time, so we'll be able to see some of the action on the last climbs and the big race to the finish in Big Bear. 

Be sure to check that out on the RadioShack Tour Tracker at

128km remaining from 186km

128km remaining from 186km

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Our lead group is cooperating nicely as they labor their way up the climb.

Oh wait! This is CyclingNews! They're actually labouring up the climb.

Our seven escapees are about 5 kilometers ... errrr, kilometres from the summit of the climb.

121km remaining from 186km

120km remaining from 186km

119km remaining from 186km

117km remaining from 186km

With Salas and Boily in the break, we're especially interested to see how that shook out on the top.

115km remaining from 186km

KOM Results - Category 1

1. Sebastian Salas, Optum
2. Andrew Bajadali, Optum
3. David Boily, SpiderTech
4. Gregory Rast, RadioShack
5. Sylvain Georges, Ag2r
6. Yukihiro Doi, Argos-Shimano

Optum played it perfectly. Salas attacked, Boily couldn't hang with him and then Bajadali countered and edged out the SpiderTech rider for second.

Argos-Shimano's sprint ace, Marcel Kittel, has dropped out of the race.

So, too, have Juan Pablo Suares (Colombia-Coldeportes) and Laurens ten Dam Rabobank)

Interesting news from  Team Type 1 at the Tour of Norway today. Apparently, the team bus hit a moose while driving on a transfer after the stage today. All people on board bus are fine, bus took a big hit. The moose, apparently, took a much bigger hit, of course. Services for the moose are pending.

107km remaining from 186km

105km remaining from 186km

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89km remaining from 186km

Race Radio has just reported the abandonment of rider 111, that's SpiderTech's Patrick McCarty. He's had a tough early season as he has been battling mononeucleosis this year and hasn't managed to get a lot of racing time.

80km remaining from 186km

80km remaining from 186km

Our seven leaders are passing by Silverwood Lake. The gap is 6:40.

There is a good crowd at the Silverwood Country Store.

76km remaining from 186km

74km remaining from 186km

Our seven leaders are now 8.3km from the top of the next KOM

70km remaining from 186km

AG2R named Sylvain Georges as one of their men for the break today before the start, so looks liike he's done his job.

67km remaining from 186km

The big news of the day is that Sebastian Hinault finally ended the AG2R win drought with his stage win today in Circuit de Lorraine.

66km remaining from 186km

It looks like Salas drove the group to the top of the climb. More points for the KOM leader?

Results of the day's third KOM:
1. Sebastian Sala, Optum
2. David Boily, SpiderTech
3. Andrew Bajadali, Optum
4. Yukihiro Doi, Argos-Shimano
5. Sylvain Georges, Ag2r

62km remaining from 186km

There is a big split in the field, too, meaning that we may be seeing a few sprinters losing contact with the main group.

I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that Peter Sagan is not among those struggling.

As a reminder, our seven escapees are

Sylvain Georges (Fra), Ag2r
Yukihiro Doi (Jpn), Argos-Shimano
David Boily (Can), SpiderTech
Jeremy Vennell (NZl), Bissell
Andrew Bajadali (USA), Optum
Sebastian Salas (Can), Optum

61km remaining from 186km

The leaders are not dashing to the line. They are 5:40 ahead of the peloton.

59km remaining from 186km

Atapuma has been pulled in again.

57km remaining from 186km

We're getting conflicting time splits, but the one we believe to be most reliable puts the break 4:04 ahead of the field.

55km remaining from 186km

53km remaining from 186km

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136km remaining from 186km

Yukihiro Doi is the third rider on the road, resplendent in the Rising Sun jersey of Japanese national champion. He just recently earned that honor as the Japanese hold their nationals a little earlier than most in order to accommodate the European schedules of their top pros. 

48km remaining from 186km

49km remaining from 186km

46km remaining from 186km

Salas takes the KOM, with Georges on his wheel.

Salas is happy about that. He has really done a lot to help lock in that jersey ... probably all the way to L.A.

45km remaining from 186km

Salas only started racing bikes three years ago. Before that he ran. He was a climber there, too. He specialized in mountain runs and those goofy tower runs where competitors run up all the steps in a major skyscraper. The scenery is better in cycling, to be sure.

Salas, meanwhile, has what he wants out of the day, so he sits up and Sylvain Georges (Ag2r) is facing the final 44km on his own.

42km remaining from 186km

According to's Laura Weislo, Salas has pretty much locked up the jersey.

"By my calculations, unless Boily got 1 point on that KOM (which he did not) he cannot beat Salas even if he wins both climbs tomorrow and Salas gets 0 points," Laura notes.


41km remaining from 186km

Gregory Rast (RadioShack), Sebastian Salas (Optum), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) and Yukihiro Doi (Argos-Shimano) have joined forces and are pulling Georges back.

With 41k to go, five heads are better than one ... or rather 10 legs are better than two.

39km remaining from 186km

38km remaining from 186km

Correction. Georges is doing even better than I thought. The four chasers are actually two minutes back.

35km remaining from 186km

Breaking News.

Sure, we're supposed to be reporting on cycling, but Laura is also on the hunt for the press room joke of the day.


30km remaining from 186km

30km remaining from 186km

Appropriately relieved of joke duty, Laura Weislo issues a clarification on her KOM calculations:

28km remaining from 186km

Salas and Doi are about to be pulled in by the main field.

27km remaining from 186km

26km remaining from 186km

Garmin is still doign the work with Liquigas in behind. Weening is coming back but there's a counterattack from Kelderman, Weening's old Rabobank teammate.

Kelderman is a quality rider who came up this year from the Rabo Conti team. He won the Thüringen Rundfahrt and Tour of Norway last year.

24km remaining from 186km

Vennell is now dropping back from Rast.  


The peloton is only one minute behind Rast, but Georges is still 4:10 up the road.

Well, we thought Weening was getting pulled back, but he gave it another kick. He's now caught and passed Rast.

21km remaining from 186km

18km remaining from 186km

17km remaining from 186km

The peloton has 20k to go, but Georges has just 16.8k to go.

Well, win, lose or draw, Georges will be getting the most aggressive rider prize today.

14km remaining from 186km

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1km remaining from 186km

It's uphill, but he has a minute.

Can he make it?

Attacks are coming out of the field.

0km remaining from 186km

Sylvain Georges wins the stage!

Wowie. If ever there was a deserving winner, it has to be Sylvain Georges. He's been on the attack for 184 of 186.7km and he barely makes it.

Peter Sagan, surprise, surprise, wins the field sprint. His teammate Peter Velits takes third.

Dave Zabriskie keeps the leader's jersey, easily finishing with the main field.

1. Sylvain Georges (F) Ag2r
2. Peter Sagan (Svk), Liquigas, 0:28
3. Peter Velits (Cz), Liquigas, at 0:28

Okay folks. That was an impressive show.

I will be back tomorrow and follow this race to what promises to be a spectacular finish on the slopes of Mt. Baldy.

Until then, cheers. Have a great weekend.

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