Gesink climbs to Tour of California stage 7 victory atop Mt Baldy

Rabobank's Robert Gesink is back: after breaking his femur last October, the Dutch rider has regained his top form and showed it by claiming both the stage win on Mt. Baldy and the race lead of the Tour of California. Gesink out-sprinted John Darwin Atapuma (Colombia Coldeportes), while the Colombian's teammate Fabio Duarte claimed third.

"I'm back, I've been working really, really hard the last months. It didn't always work out in the beginning and that's difficult on an athlete, always wanting to win. Now to be back at the highest level and to be the best uphill like this is unbelievable," Gesink said.

Soon to turn 26, Gesink was last in California in 2009 but it has been since 2008 that he last took a stage victory here in San Jose where he out-sprinted Levi Leipheimer.

"I had a nice victory over here four years ago, and I am really happy to be back at this level after a difficult year. I lost my dad a bit more than a year ago, and felt dead myself. Then I became a dad.  Emotionally it was a really difficult year, and now to be back at the highest level and beat guys like Horner, Zabriskie and Tejay [Van Garderen], it's incredible."

The morning's race leader David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) put in a valiant effort on the 8km climb, ultimately losing 1:25 on the stage. While he lost the overall race lead, he salvaged his place on the podium tomorrow. After twice finishing second overall, Zabriskie looks poised to add a third runner-up result to that tally, while his teammate Tom Danielson climbed into third in the standings.

"The team rode great. We had to do a lot of work," Danielson said. "There was a lot of suffering for everybody. I did the best I could. I just got a little dehydrated in the last couple kilometers, and I had to ride my own pace. I felt really comfortable with Gesink, and all of the sudden I started getting the chills, and I thought, 'Oh man I'm dehydrated, I didn't drink enough'. But I did the best I could for sure.

"I just did a huge month and a half block of training for the Tour [de France], so I expected to come here with good form. I felt strong all week and I felt strong today. I wanted to win, but Gesink was stronger."

The day was dominated by an audacious display by Chris Horner and his RadioShack-Nissan team, which put four riders including Horner into the early breakaway on the first climb, and on the second ascent, Horner left all of his companions behind except for Atapuma. The team's motto, "inspired by climbing" proved true, and Atapuma was able to leave Horner behind on the hardest pitches of Mt. Baldy and put in a solo bid for victory. The only problem was, Gesink bridged across and then defeated Atapuma in the sprint.

"It was a very hard day. I was looking at Horner when he attacked, so I could stay in his wake and then press for the stage win," Atapuma said. "The stage win was so close, but second place in such an important stage at such an important race is a very good result."

Duarte, who rode through the jetsam caused by Gesink's explosive attack, was pleased with third on the stage. "We are very happy with our team display today. Our aim was to take the stage win, and the team gave its all to race this objective," Duarte said. "We came very close. This is the kind of result that says thank you to the whole staff and all the people working for us, and of course the team."

Horner's last ditch bid for glory

After losing 2:50 in the time trial, Horner's chances for the overall win were so remote, only an heroic feat of strength or a miracle could deliver him to the win, but for a time he became the leader on the road, notching up 3:50 in the leading group on Zabriskie. While it didn't pan out in the end, Horner was satisfied with the show he put on today.

"I don't have any bad feelings about where I finished today, I wanted to go out with a show for sure. The stage would have been nice, but the overall was what I really wanted, and the only way to do that was to risk everything. I did it, but it just didn't work. I hope everyone enjoyed the show," he said after the stage.

It's incredibly rare to see a team put so many riders into a breakaway, and to have the defending champion as one is even more amazing. Horner described how he entered into the move: "Originally the team wanted me to go for the stage, but I'm here to win the overall. My only shot was to hope for a break like that. We had Jens [Voigt] up there and [Gregory] Rast up there, then George [Bennett] went across and when I saw George there and we had four, I thought we had a chance."

His only regret was that Atapuma didn't contribute a fair share of the work to make the move succeed. "The Colombian guy really wasn't working through the valley, he sat on me going up the next KOM, pulled about half as much as I did in the rollers, and barely any on the descent, so I was glad to see Gesink catch him," Horner said.

While at first, Garmin-Barracuda took charge of the chase, when it came to crunch time, it was Rabobank who was able to seriously chip away at the leaders' advantage.

"I'm happy with the effort the team put in. We already started riding early because we saw Horner was in the first group," Gesink said. "I mean guys doing an attack like that, you have to be a really big rider to make a race, as he did. It was incredible. We had to chase all day and everybody was suffering. On the last climb I decided to go. I looked back and saw the group was small, and I went again and it worked very well."

Short, sharp and steep

The Amgen Tour of California has been about two stages this year, the time trial which propelled David Zabriskie of Garmin-Barracuda to the race lead, and Mt. Baldy, where the overall contenders had their last realistic chance to change up the standings.

RadioShack-Nissan, having a disadvantage after Horner's substandard time trial, took the race by the horns sending Jens Voigt up the road from the moment the 0km flag dropped. Along with Voigt was Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) at first, but then Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and Nathan Brown (Bontrager-Livestrong) replaced the Belgian.

Soon, the climb kicked up in earnest and RadioShack put on the pressure, tossing Horner, Rast and Bennett up the road with Voigt and dragging a few riders along, the highest ranked being Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthcare) who had his teammate Bradley White along with him. Marking the move for Liquigas-Cannondale was Timmy Duggan and tacking on was Chris Baldwin (Bissell), Darwin Atapuma (Colombia Coldeportes), Lucas Euser (Spidertech) and Alexandre Geniez (Argos Shimano).

The group was pegged at two minutes by the Garmin-Barracuda and Rabobank, keeping Horner from threatening Zabriskie's lead, but the American was keen to give his all to try and repeat his victory of 2011, and attacked on the second climb of Glendora Mountain road, shedding all of his breakaway companions except Atapuma, while Geniez tried and failed to hang on.

Horner pressed the pace, not asking his Colombian companion to do any work at all. He quickly extended his advantage over Zabriskie to 3:35, gaining the virtual lead with 35km to go. As Horner allowed Atapuma to share the work, the pair extended the lead to 3:50, but Garmin-Barracuda and BMC were able to whittle away at the gap on the upper slopes of Glendora Mountain.

By the time Horner and Atapuma crested the second mountain, the BMC-led peloton had stripped Horner of his virtual leader status, and the pair's advantage was halved from 2:40 to 1:20 on the long, undulating run across the ridge line to Mt. Baldy.

BMC led the chase full gas onto Mt. Baldy road, but despite its furious tempo van Garderen was sitting back, keeping a close eye on the Garmin-Barracuda riders. Rabobank took over the pace leading into the steepest part of the climb, and its pace put several riders into trouble: the previous day's winner Sylvain Georges and best young rider Luke Durbridge into trouble, as well as UnitedHealthcare's contender Rory Sutherland.

Atapuma attacked Horner as the road kicked up into its steepest pitches, and while Horner briefly lost contact, he was able to claw his way back to the Colombian though not for long.

In the same stretch of road in the chase group one minute behind, Robert Gesink dropped a bomb on the bunch, jettisoning Zabriskie and only Danielson could respond, while Van Garderen and Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) trailed just behind. Dombrowski, one of the revelations of the US peloton, left the BMC man behind. while up ahead Gesink ditched Danielson and reached and passed Horner.

Colombia Coldeportes rider Fabio Duarte was inspired by climbing and came across the gap, passing Van Garderen and bridging up to Danielson, Horner and Dombrowski heading into the final kilometer. Meanwhile, Gesink closed in on Atapuma at the 1km to go banner.

The pair came into the final series of bends neck and neck, with Atapuma trying to jump on the inside, but Gesink passed him on the straight before nearly crashing into the barriers in the final turn but holding on for the stage win.

"A few of my teammates who are riding this year rode this stage last year and explained a bit to me, and I watched the race last year on the Internet while I was training for the Tour. So I knew it a bit, still I almost got surprised by the last corner because I saw the blue podium and thought it was the finish. But that's what happens when you're heart rate is  200 and you can't see that well anymore."

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team3:37:08
2Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
3Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:00:14
4Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:00:18
5Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:00:26
6Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:00:38
7Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:01:04
8Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan0:01:06
9Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:01:08
10Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:01:22
11David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:01:25
12Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:01:33
13Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:01:39
14Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:22
15Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:02:28
16Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:58
17Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:03:13
18Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:03:15
19George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team0:03:30
20Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
21Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:04:41
22Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos - Shimano0:04:56
23Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech Powered By C100:05:03
24Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:05:56
25Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team
26Michael Creed (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:06:18
27Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:06:31
28Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - Shimano
29Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy0:07:08
30Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale0:07:13
31Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:07:15
32Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:07:41
33Michael Rodriguez Galindo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
34Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:08:27
35Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan0:09:24
36Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:09:50
37Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:10:50
38Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:11:21
39Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling0:12:51
40Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:14:23
41Matt Cooke (USA) Team Exergy0:14:25
42Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale0:14:49
43Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
44Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
45Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:17:13
46Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:17:56
47Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:18:19
48Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
49Jason McCartney (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:18:49
50Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:20:32
51Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda0:21:36
52Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:21:55
53Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:22:38
54Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech Powered By C100:24:14
55Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:24:17
56Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:25:40
57Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
58Edward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale
59Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos - Shimano
60Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
61Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
62Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
63Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
64Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Livestrong Team
65Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
66Frank Pipp (USA) Bissell Cycling
67Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
68Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team
69Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
70Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
71Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
72Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda
73Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
74Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
75David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
76Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos - Shimano
77Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling
78George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan
79Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
80Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
81Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
82Thomas Zirbel (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
83Morgan Schmitt (USA) Team Exergy
84Raymond Kunzli (Swi) Spidertech Powered By C10
85Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
86Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Team Exergy
87Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
88Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
89Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
90Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
91Nathan Brown (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
92Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell Cycling
93Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
94Robbie McEwen (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
95Roger Kluge (Ger) Argos - Shimano
96Matthew Wilson (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
97Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team
98Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
99Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-Quickstep
100Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos - Shimano
101Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
102Ryan Eastman (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
103Ken Hanson (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
104Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - Shimano
105Andrés Díaz Corrales (Col) Team Exergy
106Thimothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing Team
107Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
108Scott Zwizanski (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
109Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
110Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
DNFCarter Jones (USA) Bissell Cycling
DNFLogan Loader (USA) Team Exergy
DNFRyan Anderson (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
DNFChristophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
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Sprint 1 - Glendora
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan5pts
2Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan3
3Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan1
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Mountain 1 - Glendora Ridge Rd. (cat. 2)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan8pts
2Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan7
3Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan6
4Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team5
5Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team3
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Mountain 2 - Glendora Ridge Rd. (cat. 2)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes8pts
2Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan7
3Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale6
4Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team5
5Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team3
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Mountain 3 - Mont Baldy (HC)
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team8pts
2Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes7
3Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes6
4Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team5
5Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda3
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Most aggressive rider
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes
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Most courageous rider
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan
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Young riders
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team3:37:26
2Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:00:46
3Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:12
4Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:04:23
5Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - Shimano0:06:13
6Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:16:55
7Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:18:01
8Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:25:22
9Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
10Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
11David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
12George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan
13Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10
14Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - Barracuda
15Nathan Brown (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
16Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team
17Ryan Eastman (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
18Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team
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Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1RadioShack-Nissan10:54:41
2Rabobank Cycling Team0:03:43
3Colombia - Coldeportes0:04:38
4Orica GreenEDGE0:05:31
5AG2R La Mondiale0:05:33
6BMC Racing Team0:08:50
7Garmin-Barracuda0:12:57
8UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:14:32
9Omega Pharma-QuickStep0:14:37
10Bontrager Livestrong Team0:32:33
11Liquigas-Cannondale0:33:34
12Argos-Shimano0:33:50
13Team Exergy0:43:56
14Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies0:46:37
15Spidertech Powered by C100:51:40
16Bissell Pro Cycling1:00:54
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General classification after stage 7
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team29:14:52
2David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:00:46
3Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:00:54
4Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team0:01:17
5Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:01:36
6Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:02:13
7Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:02:30
8Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:02:49
9Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-Nissan0:02:54
10Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:03:05
11Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:03:15
12Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:03:38
13Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:03:44
14Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:04:19
15George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team0:04:21
16Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:04:28
17Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
18Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:05:03
19Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:52
20Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:06:02
21Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team0:06:57
22Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech Powered By C100:07:21
23Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - Shimano0:07:29
24Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:07:49
25Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:28
26Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy0:08:38
27Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:09:53
28Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale0:10:44
29Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:12:05
30Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:12:49
31Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:12:57
32Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling0:15:43
33Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:16:02
34Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan0:16:04
35Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos - Shimano0:16:54
36Matt Cooke (USA) Team Exergy0:18:31
37Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:19:10
38Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:19:27
39Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:21:20
40Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda0:23:32
41Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:25:49
42Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale0:27:42
43Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling Team0:27:54
44Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:28:13
45Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:28:15
46George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-Nissan0:28:36
47Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:28:37
48Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:28:58
49Raymond Kunzli (Swi) Spidertech Powered By C100:29:09
50Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack-Nissan0:29:23
51Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell Cycling0:29:38
52Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team0:30:02
53Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:31:16
54Michael Creed (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:31:36
55Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:32:48
56Andrés Díaz Corrales (Col) Team Exergy0:33:18
57Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan0:33:39
58Michael Rodriguez Galindo (Col) Colombia - Coldeportes0:34:18
59Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale0:37:12
60Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:37:18
61Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech Powered By C100:37:34
62Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team0:38:41
63Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:39:54
64Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda0:42:45
65