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Tour of California 2012: Stage 7

Hello and welcome to stage 7 of the 2012 Tour of California.  It's the penultimate day and riders are racing a 126km route from Ontario to Mt. Baldy.

 Good day and welcome to CyclingNews.com's Live Coverage of the seventh - and perhaps decisive - stage of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, a 127-kilometer race from Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy.

Today's route features three rated climbs, but the biggie is that hors categorie ascent to the finish. This should be good.

The first climb - the Category 2 Glendora Ridge Road - comes early, at 26.5 km. 

Because much of today's route involves a big loop, the peloton crests that same climb at 98.6km.

Then it's mostly uphill to the line, with the finish coming at an altitude of 1965 meters at km 127. It may be short, but it's a toughy. Hang on for an exciting ride, folks.

Our own Laura Weislo spoke with Chris Horner this morning.

Horner said that being down on GC changes the dynamic of the race for him, today. 

"I can focus on winning the stage," he said. "I can focus on following other attacks, not necessarily attacking myself to gain time."

Horner will be fun to watch today, as always.

 

We have news that there will be a delay in today's start time. 

Apparently there is an automobile accident out on route and that has to be cleared before riders can leave the start in Ontario.

 

Horner's teammate, Jens "the bee-eater" Voigt said he's looking forward to this stage.

"The team feels pretty good," he said. 
 We all have a strong desire to show our jerseys out there today and go for our first stage win. We came here with big hopes and we would like to go out with a big result today, because we don't have a sprinter for tomorrow."

 

Axel Merckx, the director of the Bontrager-LiveStrong team is predicting a a lot of action.

"Today is a big day at TOC," he said. Win or lose for the big guns, it's not going to involve a lot of tactics today. It's really just going to come down to who is the strongest. Whoever has good legs will be at the front and, at this point, it's Garmin's race to lose."

 Merckx said his own riders are aiming for a stage win.

"Bontrager riders are going for a stage win," he said. "We have nothing to lose. We want to finish the race the same way we've been racing all week. The boys are excited and nervous, but sometimes positive stress can be a good thing."

 

 

Riders are now rolling through the 2.2km neutral zone.

 

 

And they're off.

 

There was a slight extension of the neutral zone as rider No. 67  Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge gets a bike change.

 

 

And the attacks are starting.

 

Cool. It's Jens Voigt going out there. He's with Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma)

 

6.6km into the stage and Voigt and Devenyns have a slight advantage.

 

 

There was a bit of controversy this morning as there was heated discussion about some teams' decisions to opt out of their assigned rooms in Big Bear and get hotels in Ontario, instead.

It wasn't the commute. They did it to get their riders down in altitude, which would help recovery.

The Bissell squad did it and DS Omer Kem said "it was totally worth it" for his team to have made that decision, "especially after so many days of racing.

The team did inform USADA officials about the move, so there were no violations.


 

 

117km remaining from 126km

Voigt is still out there, but he's traded companions. He, Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Bontrager's Nathan Brown, have about 10 seconds on a group of ten riders and just a bit more than that on the peloton.

 

115km remaining from 126km

These are still small gaps, so the early part of the stage is still very much in play.

 

Man, there sure are a lot of dogs in the crowd in Ontario. Mostly Pit Bulls and Bulldogs from what we can see. Let's hope none run out into the road.

Maybe organizers can hand out special ATOC leashes next year.

Speaking of leashes, they sure aren't giving Jens Voigt and crew a long leash. He's not making a lot of progress, as the pace is high.

 

115km remaining from 126km

You might want to keep an eye on Robert Gesink today. He's close on GC and may be on the attack early. Team spokesman Koos Moerenhout says that his rider needs to attack well ahead of the final climb to Mt. Baldy.

Of course, Garmin will be expecting something, we're sure.

 

 

112km remaining from 126km

It looks like things are together - or the gaps are really small.

 

There are another 13km to cover before the peloton crests the day's first KOM spot on Glendora Ridge Road.

 

It's a tight GC race after yesterday's stage
1. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin – Barracuda
2. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, at 0:34
3. Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank, at 0:39
4. Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep, at 0:45
5. Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda, at 0:48
6. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge, at 1:01
7. Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda, at 1:07
8. Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare, at 1:10
9. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge, at 1:26
10. Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong, at 1:30

 

108km remaining from 126km

The peloton is about 8k from the top of the day's first climb.

 

We have a big group off the front.

 

Holy Moly. Look at the composition of this break!

RadioShack

Christopher Horner (USA)
George Bennett (NZl)
Grégory Rast (Swi)
Jens Voigt (Ger)

Liquigas-Cannondale
Timothy Duggan (USA)
Maxime Bouet (Fra)
Mickaël Chérel (Fra)

United Healthcare
Marc de Maar (Ned)
Bradley White (USA)

Colombia-ColdePortes 
 Darwin Atapuma (Col)

Agros-Shimano
Alexandre Geniez (Fra)

Spidertech
Lucas Euser (USA)

Bissell Cycling
Christopher Baldwin (USA)

Bontrager-Livestrong
Nathan Brown (USA)

 

 

Yes, RadioShack has four guys in the break. The break has 1:10 on the main field. Garmin has its work cut out.

 

 

Bontrager's Brown has dropped back to the field.

The gap is 1:45.

 

We're only getting spotty reports over race radio. We should hear some news from the KOM.

 

Well Voigt wasn't kidding when he said the team wanted show their jerseys out there today. They have four riders - including Horner - in the break.

 

The break has crested the climb and the peloton is back at 1:50.

 

The break has crested the climb and the peloton is back at 1:50.

 

Results of the KOM:

1. George Bennett, RadioShack-Nissan
2. Jens Voigt, RadioShack-Nissan
3. Chris Horner, RadioShack Nissam
4. Brad White, United HealthCare
5. Marc de Maar, United HealthCare

Ag2r's Mickael Cherel has dropped back to the peloton and the gap is now 2:15.

90km remaining from 126km

The peloton is being led by Garmin (no surprise there).

The gap is 2:20.

 

83km remaining from 126km

Off the descent, the break's advantage has been cut to 1:55.

 

From our own Laura Weislo:

"I was down at the turn from Mt. Baldy Rd. to Glendora Mtn and there was a huge crowd, the sumo guys and lots of the locals."


She continues, "I asked one if this was the most exciting thing that happens all year there, she said, 'no, we have the pancake breakfast and the steak cookoff...'"

 

Teejay van Garderen flatted on the descent. One of his BMC teammates gave him a wheel and he's back.

 

Teejay van Garderen flatted on the descent. One of his BMC teammates gave him a wheel and he's back.

 

SpiderTech's Ryan Anderson crashed on the descent and he has pulled out of the race.

 

73km remaining from 126km

The gap is down to 1:45

 

The course today is a whole lot of crazy: the first climb as you can see was early, steep and already causing pain to the riders who aren't at their best.

 

The descent is extremely fast and technical at the top, but then it's wide open and fast along the reservoir.

 

There is a brush fire up on Mt. Baldy. Emergency vehicles are on their way to the scene, via the race route. We'll have more as that news develops.

 

Right now the gap is 1:45. Once they get down to Glendora the peloton will have a good chance to close the gap to the breakaway as they have some pretty flat roads leading into the intermediate sprint.

 

Laura reports that Laura Weislo reports that "Once they get through the sprint the climb begins about 2km later and is relentless for 14km. The ascent has been used in the San Dimas Stage Race as the opening time trial and while it isn't as steep as Mt. Baldy's top, having raced it I can assure you it's not a walk in the park."

 

The gap is up to 2:00 and the Rabobank crew is lending a hand with the chase.

 

65km remaining from 126km

Quickstep is also staying up front with Garmin and Rabobank for Peter Velits and, perhaps, Levi Leipheimer.

 

61km remaining from 126km

The gap is holding at around 2:00.

 

59km remaining from 126km

For you Tour Tracker fans, the video feed is kicking in.

 

It looks like Garmin isn't intent upon reeling in the break as much as it is in keeping the gap manageable and not allowing Horner to threaten the jersey.

 

 As a reminder, the men in the break are: Christopher Horner (USA), RadioShack-Nissan; George Bennett (NZl), RadioShack-Nissan; Grégory Rast (Swi), RadioShack-Nissan; Jens Voigt (Ger), RadioShack-Nissan; Timothy Duggan (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale; Maxime Bouet (Fra), Liquigas-Cannondale; Marc de Maar (Ned), United Healthcare; Bradley White (USA)United Healthcare; Darwin Atapuma (Col) Colombia-ColdePortes; Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Agros-Shimano; Lucas Euser (USA), SpiderTech; Christopher Baldwin (USA), Bissell

52km remaining from 126km

The gap is holding at 1:50.

 

49km remaining from 126km

The break is 49k from the finish and the gap is 1:50. It's a combination of Rabobank and Garmin up front, with most of the contribution from the latter.

 

47km remaining from 126km

Horner must be a happy man, no matter what the outcome today. How often can you get into a break with three teammates and one of them just happens to be Jens Voigt? He must be having fun out there.

The gap is holding at 1:50.

 

45km remaining from 126km

The gap is now back to 2:00.

 

43km remaining from 126km

It's the four RadioShack-Nissan guys driving the break. They now have 2:10/

 

UHC's Brad White has been dropped from the break.

 

42km remaining from 126km

Spidertech says that Lucas Euser has been holding back all week, saving everything for today. He's had a long haul rehabbing his leg and is feeling strong again and is looking to show it. If he can, it will be a huge marketing boost for the athletic tape company.

The gap is up to 2:25

 

Well.... we spoke too soon Euser has been dropped from the break.

 

40km remaining from 126km

Garmin is doing the bulk of the work in the peloton.

The gap is 2:25.

 

Euser had a mechanical. It looks like he is working his way back to the break.

 

39km remaining from 126km

Horner is the last RadioShack-Nissan rider in the break and the smilin' man from Oregon is still at the front of the break, which has upped its advantage to 2:55.

 

Horner is just powering on. 

Indeed, at this point he has only Darwin Atapuma (Colombia - Coldeportes) as company.

The rest of the break is chasing and/or drifting back to the peloton.
 

 

37km remaining from 126km

Horner has 3:25 on the peloton. He's in the virtual leader's jersey at this point.

 

 

36km remaining from 126km

Horner lost 2:50 in the Bakersfield TT the other day. At this point he's 3:35 ahead of the peloton.

 

33km remaining from 126km

The gap is at 3:45, but we're seeing a move out of the peloton.

 

Andrew Talansky (Garmin), who started the day fifth on GC, at 0:48, is suffering in the peloton... fading back.

 

31km remaining from 126km

The gap is now up to 3:50 

31km remaining from 126km

The gap is reportedly 3:50.
We may be seeing Chris Horner riding his way into the leader's jersey here.

 

 

31km remaining from 126km

The gap is now 3:40.

 

30km remaining from 126km

Horner and Atapuma are digging deep into their respective suitcases of courage and maintaining an advantage of 3:40. The really tough climbing is still ahead.

 

 

Here's a video of the breakaway passing by the intersection of Mt. Baldy road earlier - Tour Tracker viewers may not be able to see this.

Back in the peloton, BMC is doing a big chunk of the chase work, trying to minimize the damage for Tejay van Garderen, who is a mere 34 seconds out of first on G.C.

 

 

Here's a video of the breakaway passing by the intersection of Mt. Baldy road earlier - Tour Tracker viewers may not be able to see this.

Here's a video of the breakaway passing by the intersection of Mt. Baldy road earlier - Tour Tracker viewers may not be able to see this.

27km remaining from 126km

Horner and Atapuma are over the day's second KIM. The gap is still around 3:35.

 

New from the road is that Bissell's Carter Jones has abandoned.

 

... as has Jeff Louder (Bissell)

 

Results from the KOM:
1. Darwin Atapuma (Col), Colombia - Coldeportes
2. Christopher Horner (USA), RadioShack-Nissan
3. Timothy Duggan (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale, at 3:00
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel), BMC, at 3:00

 

20km remaining from 126km

Horner and Atapuma are now 20k from the finish. Their advantage of 2:25 is still a serious threat to Zabriskie's hold on the jersey.

 

Corrected KOM:
Results from the KOM:
1. Darwin Atapuma (Col), Colombia - Coldeportes
2. Christopher Horner (USA), RadioShack-Nissan
3. Timothy Duggan (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale, at 3:00
4. Marc de Maar (Ned), United HealthCar at 3:00

 

Corrected KOM:
Results from the KOM:
1. Darwin Atapuma (Col), Colombia - Coldeportes
2. Christopher Horner (USA), RadioShack-Nissan
3. Timothy Duggan (USA), Liquigas-Cannondale, at 3:00
4. Marc de Maar (Ned), United HealthCar at 3:00

 

While most of our attention is dedicated to the front of the race, keep in mind that there is something of a race at the back of the field.

tHE Time cut is 12% again today, SO on a 3h stage that will be just over 21 minutes.

 

17km remaining from 126km

Horner and Atapuma are now just 1:30 ahead of the peloton, with 17k to go.

youtu.be/9Zyq96O-rIc Have a look at the crowd cheering the race as they go by the Mt. Baldy intersection the first time.

 

youtu.be/9Zyq96O-rIc Have a look at the crowd cheering the race as they go by the Mt. Baldy intersection the first time.

They'll come back through the same point to start the Mt. Baldy climb.

There were some complaints yesterday from Garmin that the whiteboard wasn't giving accurate information. Vaughters had a rant about the UCI regulations, but it didn't affect the outcome so it was only a minor rant.
 

 

15km remaining from 126km

Horner and Atapuma are now just 1:30 ahead of the peloton.

 

Mmmmm... Nibali has popped.

 

News from the press room (where they determine such things): Horner has been awarded the most courageous rider award, while Atapuma will be given the most aggressive jersey.

 

The motto of the Colombia Coldeportes team is "Inspired by climbing."

 

14km remaining from 126km

Its Van Garderen's BMC squad doing the bulk of the chase work in the peloton.
The gap is 1:20

 

12km remaining from 126km

The two leaders are heading to the base of the hors categorie climb to Mt. Baldy.

There are a scant 12k remaining and their lead is just 1:30.

 

9km remaining from 126km

Horner and Ataouma are cooperating nicely.
The gap is 1:25

 

We're about to see our leaders hit the lower slopes of Mt. Baldy. They are coursing through a short drop ahead of the climb.

Horner almost went into the table of the lady who was selling cookies, cupcakes and drinks - she was making a pretty good profit too.

Horner did not stop for a purchase, near as we can tell.



 

 

7km remaining from 126km

BMC is pushing the pace in the peloton.

The leaders are 1:15 ahead of the peloton.

 

7km remaining from 126km

Leipheimer is still in the mix back in the peloton.

 

6km remaining from 126km

The two BMCs  who drove the charge onto Mt. Baldy - Yannick and Bookwalter - have blown.

Now it's Rabobank at the front of the peloton.

The gap is now down to a minute.

 

5km remaining from 126km

The "peloton" is quite small.

Zabriskie is down to Danielson for support and the Rabobank team is ripping it on the climb. Tejay van Garderen, is right on the race leader's wheel. He looks quite relaxed.

 

5km remaining from 126km

Hincapie has popped.

So has Sylvain Georges, winner of yesterday's stage.

Who's left?

Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Nissan)
Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Nissan)
Thomas Danielson (Garmin-Barracuda)
David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda)
Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)
Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team)
Robert Gesink (Rabobank Cycling Team)
Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Cycling Team)
Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Rabobank Cycling Team)
Cameron Meyer (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team)
Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team)
Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale)
Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia-Coldeportes)
Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Cycling)

 

5km remaining from 126km

and Joseph Dombrowski (Bontrager Livestrong Team) is in the mix back there.

 

4km remaining from 126km

Atapuma is on the attack up at the front of the race. Horner has responded nicely.

 

4km remaining from 126km

Atapuma is moving away from Horner.

Back in the peloton, Gesink has attacked!

 

Danielson is chasing!

 

Zabriskie has popped.

 

Gesink is driving it hard.

He has van Garderen and Danielson on his wheel.

 

4km remaining from 126km

Gesink, is driving it hard. He has Danielson on his wheel, but Zabriskie is falling back.

 

Gesink and Danielson are well ahead of van Garderen.

 

4km remaining from 126km

Gesink is 35 seconds behind the leader, Atapma

 

Gesink, now free of Danielson, is catching Chris Horner. Caught and passed.

 

Tenacious as ever, Horner is hanging on to Gesink's wheel.

 

Big Hair Superfan cheers Gesink onward.

 

Gesink is just powering through these steep, steep ramps.

 

The Colombia-Coldportes team has  Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo moving up, too. 

He has passed van Garderen and powering up the climb.

 

Gesink is closing in on Atapuma!

 

Gesink is riding into the leader's jersey, no matter what, but he may score the stage win, too.

 

Many sill fans along the upper reaches of the climb. We would haughtily dismiss them, but we're still suffering from the memory of the fat guys in their underwear at the Giro today.

 

One kilometer to go!

Gesink is closing in on Atapuma. He's just 10 meters off the back.

 

0km remaining from 126km

Gesink catches!

 

Gesink moves ahead, but Atapuma is fighting to stay on his wheel.

 

Zabriskie is now at 1:20. So Gesink has the lead in the Tour of California.

Atapuma attacks in the final meters!

 

Gesink fights back!

He almost over-cooks the final turn, but he makes it and takes the win!

 

Zabriskie is heading in... having lost the jersey today.

 

Zabriskie crosses at 1:23. 

Gesink was 39 seconds out of first at the start of the day, so we have a Dutch winner of the stage and he's a likely winner of the 2012 AToc.

 

 

Gesink enters tomorrow's stage with a healthy 45-second lead over Zabriskie.

 

Results#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult

Gesink is on the podium with his daughter Daisy.

Tomorrow will be a short stage with a finish at the Staples Center, which will be hosting a big NHL event, too.

Okay, folks. We have just had the privilege of watching a spectacular stage. Gesink pointed to the sky, likely remembering his father who died in a mountain biking accident.

Thank you for tuning in again to CyclingNews' Live Coverage of the Tour of California.

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