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Tour of California 2013: Stage 3


Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of Stage 3 at the Amgen Tour of California. The peloton faces a 177.7km route from Palmdale to Santa Clarita and will roll off the start line at 11:20am PDT.

After two days of blistering heat there's good news for the peloton as it's breezy and not too hot today at the start in Palmdale.

There's now three minutes to the start of the stage. After a 2.4km neutral section, racing will commence!

And the Tour of California peloton is now underway into the neutral section.

With almost over 2,700m of climbing this could be classified as a mountain stage but the climbing is broken up and includes only one, long, sustained grade. However, after a long, difficult stage the day before, this is a day when just about anything could potentially happen.

Starting in California’s high desert the route climbs up into the Los Padres National Forest This is perfect terrain for a small, dedicated breakaway as the climbing is not difficult enough to select only the strongest riders. The most sustained ascent is the 32km Lake Hughes Road but with only 518m of climbing along its distance, this will be a high-speed test and is very unlikely to force a selection.

The 30km descent down Spunky Canyon and Bouquet Road is gradual and will allow the peloton to regroup. A field sprint looks to be a likely finale, but anything can happen out on the road...

While both Palmdale and Santa Clarita are familiar hosts of the race, today's route is completely new on roads that the race has never travelled.

Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard) has wasted no time today and has attacked the peloton at kilometer 0!

While it's not as hot today, feeding is already open for the peloton, normally that takes place after approximately 30km have been covered.

The employees of a nail salon are out on the sidewalk to see the crazy bike race go past. There are fans dotting the exit from Palmdale, each one huddling under the tiny trees that line the sidewalks.

An Orica-GreenEdge rider has stopped for a wheel change. Not a good time for that as the peloton is roaring along at 40mph.

Michael Schär (BMC) has a mechanical issue, as well as a rider from UnitedHealthcare.

It appears that Jens Voigt has been caught by the peloton and the pace has been notched back to around 24mph now.

And what's in store for the peloton during today's route? Firstly, there are four KOMs on offer for today, all rated category 4: Munz Ranch Rd (30.7km), Lake Hughes Rd. (86.1km), Lake Hughes Rd. (93.9km) and Bouquet Canyon Rd. (142.4km)

Also, two intermediate sprints are on tap for today: Lake Hughes (118.9km) and Leona Valley (135.5km)

Bert Grabsch has abandoned. That's a big loss for Omega Pharma-QuickStep, he's their work horse. Pieter Serry and Stijn Vandenbergh have already DNF'd for OPQS, so they're down to 5 riders now.

There are attacks in the peloton. Nine riders in total have a gap, but they're split into two small groups.

Speaking of Pieter Serry (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), he was a victim of the extreme heat yesterday. The Belgian collapsed with approximately 300m remaining in the stage yesterday and the squad's directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters was still upset about it today.

It's very breezy on the way out of town, and the cross-tailwind will certainly help create gaps

Field back together, 43mph single file on an arrow straight road with nothing but sand and scrubby brush.

Mauro da Dalto (Cannondale) also didn't finish yesterday. Cannondale's Rory Mason told Cyclingnews that da Dalto is OK this morning but that he couldn't get to the finish yesterday. He went to the hospital and was treated for a couple hours for heat stroke but is fine now.

If Serry and Da Dalto had chosen to, they could have started today. They had their biomechanical incidents inside the final 3km.

The peloton will soon take a sharp left turn straight into the cross headwind. this could cause some splits.

It's so windy that one rider took a little off-road foray, he's back in but the field is splitting. There are 24 riders in the front group.

Vacansoleil-DCM is also down a rider, Tomasz Marczynski dropped out yesterday, as did Juan Jose Haedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman). Jamis-Hagens Berman is without their sprinter, and will focus solely on keeping Janier Acevedo in yellow.

The field is once again all back together after turning into the wind.

And speaking of race leader Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), yesterday's stage victory and leader's jersey was quite a coup for the US-based Continental team.

There is a pair of genuine cowboys on the side of the road - full chaps and plaid shirts with 10 gallon hats...and horses of course!

There are still a number of riders off the back having returned from punctures. Not sure what happened back in Palmdale, but they should be able to chase on now that there's a headwind.

Robert Sweeting (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda) has a flat.

159km remaining from 177km

Here is the top 10 of general classification at the start of today's stage:

There is a group of about 20 riders chasing back on from flats or other incidents - so the peloton is in three pieces.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo is traveling in the race caravan today: "There are tumbleweeds caught in the barbed wire fences. I feel like I'm in a spaghetti western," she says.

While Janier Acevedo is resplendent in the leader's jersey, here are the other classification leaders. First, stage one winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) holds the sprinter's jersey.

The peloton goes through a left turn, then another left, heading toward the first KOM. It's not much of a climb - pretty long and gradual so far.

The break of 23 has a 35-second lead. We're waiting for IDs of those riders and will pass them along as soon as we get confirmation.

The peloton passes a big beautiful house in the middle of nowhere. A good place to have a house if you don't want to see any neighbors for as far as the eye can see.

153km remaining from 177km

Another classification leader is Carter Jones (Bissell), who holds the mountains jersey. Could he possibly be on the attack to add to his lead? Here's more info on the Bissell rider.

The leaders have passed the 5km to go marker for the day's opening KOM and lead the peloton by 50 seconds. The pace is at 20mph.

The third group on the road, chasing the peloton, has its work cut out for them. They trail the peloton by 50 seconds.

Will today be a day for the sprinters? We spoke to several of the peloton's fast men and the jury is out as to whether they'll have a chance to contest a field sprint finale.

Here's a nearly complete list of the riders on the attack: Jens Voigt, Laurent Didier, Bob Jungels and Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard), Tyler Farrar and Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp), Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Tejay van Garderen, Brent Bookwalter, Mathias Frank and Michael Schär (BMC), Baden Cooke, Cameron Meyer and Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), Peter Sagan and Guillaume Boivin (Cannondale), Michael Rogers and Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM), Christopher Baldwin and Carter Jones (Bissell) plus Alexander Candelario (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)

Quite a lot of WorldTour horsepower out front! They're nearly at the day's first KOM and the mountains leader Carter Jones is in the first group on the road.

Jones is going for the day's first KOM, trying to extend his classification lead.

After cresting the summit, the scenery is much more green on this side of the ridge - cottonwood trees and rolling hills dotted with chaparral.

Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda) is also in the large front group.

Results of the day's first KOM:

The big, 23+ rider group was caught at the KOM line and there's been a re-shuffling at the front - a new attack has formed.

The KOM isn't actually the end of the climbing. Up the road there is a steep little pitch and then they get a nice gradual descent.

About six riders were on the attack, but they're about to be brought back into the peloton.

Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo spoke to Vacansoleil-DCM before the stage today about Lieuwe Westra, who wore the leader's jersey during stage 2 but lost it to Janier Acevedo. Westra had flatted on the descent into Palm Springs but made it back to the peloton prior to the finishing climb. "His flat had no influence on his result. The team took responsibility but Lieuwe just wasn't good enough. He suffered from the heat and he couldn't go any deeper at this stage."

And speak of the devil, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) is on the attack along with Chad Beyer (Champion System) and Gavin Mannion (Bontrager). They're bombing a descent and hold a slight lead on the peloton.

The wind is less severe and the trees are providing the riders some protection as well.

135km remaining from 177km

Guido Palma (Jamis-Hagens Berman) has abandoned leaving race leader Janier Acevedo with one less teammate.

The four man break of Schleck, Westra, Beyer and Mannion are working well together and are gradually descending. We believe that the riders off the back of the peloton have all regained contact, so there's currently just the four-man break and the peloton out on the road.

Laura Weislo spoke to Garmin-Sharp general manager Jonathan Vaughters about his team's plans for Tour of California, explaining that they don't really have a GC threat: "In an ideal world we would have Andrew Talansky here but last year he had such a nasty allergic reaction to the pollen that it put him out of racing for two months. His doctor advised against him coming back because the conditions were the same, we couldn't risk it again.

124km remaining from 177km

Since it looks like they'll be in it for the long haul, let's take a closer look at the men on the attack...

Firstly, there's Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) who seems to have found a good patch of form after going through a pretty dismal period. The 27-year-old Luxembourger spoke to Laura Weislo before the Tour of California started and stated that he's not counting himself as a GC favourite, but it must be a good morale booster to be out in a break after having so many races where he was struggling.

115km remaining from 177km

Another of our escapees is Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), a 30-year-old Dutchman and the winner of the Tour of California's opening stage on Sunday. Victories have been few and far between for the Dutch WorldTour squad and his stage win was welcome news.

Chad Beyer (Champion System) is the best-placed rider in the break on general classification, starting the day 5:07 back. With the current time gap to the break hovering in the low four-minute range he's not yet become virtual race leader on the road.

Breakaway has been working pretty hard, they've been getting out of the saddle on the rises, and swapping pulls. Kim Andersen is in the RadioShack car looking pretty satisfied with his rider Schleck.

The road has opened up into civilization from absolute desolation and there are lots of fans out in Santa Clarita.

There's 5km to the feed zone for the leaders. It's still a hot day - 91 degrees F is better than 111, but it's still pretty nasty.

The extreme heat was the theme of the day yesterday. Read more about the brutal conditions, capped off by a climb to the finish.

The breakaway has arrived at the feed. zone.

The break is in the industrial center of Santa Clarita, lots of big office buildings. The breakaway is on a service road parallel to the highway (Interstate 5) and now crossing over it on a bridge.

The break just passed some sort of detention center, and there were about a dozen guys in orange jump suits out on the road, looked after by armed guards.

The Tour of California peloton is on the second fastest schedule today, as opposed to the previous stages where they've been slow. 91 degrees F must feel refreshing to them today!

The third member of today's break is Chad Beyer, a 26-year-old American on the Champion System Pro Cycling Team - the first Asian-based UCI Pro Continental squad. He's in his fifth year as a professional having spent 2012 at Competitive Cyclist and three years prior to that with the BMC Racing Team. His career highlights include the KOM title and 2nd overall at the 2012 Tour of the Gila plus the sprint title at the 2009 Tour de Romandie. He has a Grand Tour in his palmares, as he finished the 2011 Giro d'Italia. According to his team bio, he prefers stage races and hilly one-day events so he's at home here in California.

There's a strong tailwind for the break and they're rolling along at 27mph. The field is at mile 47.8 (76.9km).

The day's second KOM is approaching at km 86.1 on Lake Hughes Road. The break is beginning to climb.

The break has passed Castaic Lake recreation area. It's a very odd little lake in the midst of the dry, barren landscape.

The four escapees are now heading by the Canyon Crosswinds Flying Site - not sure what that is, model planes or gliders, but it's an indication that this place sees a lot of windy days like today.

The riders are facing some really broken up tarmac, with lots of sand on the road side.

The climb is a bit longer and steeper than the first one, but it's still classified as category 4.

It's now 93 degrees outside and the climb is still going on. Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard) is bobbing up and down, out of the saddle.

92km remaining from 177km

The break's lead remains pegged at 4:10 and as a reminder the four leaders include Andy Schleck (RadioShack Leopard), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM), Chad Beyer (Champion System) and Gavin Mannion (Bontrager).

The Lake Hills Community Church is up here, they have a nice view! There are lots of cyclists at the KOM to cheer on the break and peloton.

Tom Zirbel (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) has abandoned.

Here are results of the day's second KOM, the category 4 Lake Hughes Rd. at 86.1km:

The break's lead has moved back up to 4:45 and they're climbing again to the next KOM also on Lake Hughes Rd. at 93.9km

The fourth and final rider in the break is 21-year-old American Gavin Mannion of the UCI Continental Bontrager Cycling Team. He's been a professional for three years, all within the Axel Merckx-directed development squad. This is his second year at the Tour of California and in his 2012 season he also completed the triumvirate of the three highest-rated American stage races which also includes the Tour of Utah plus Colorado's USA Cycling Challenge.

Results for KOM #3 at km 93.9:

The break's lead has dropped to 3:45 as it makes its way down a fast, technical descent off the third KOM.

With 8 Tour of California stage wins already, Peter Sagan leads the list of most career stage victories for the race.

Only four other riders currently in the peloton have claimed Tour of California stage wins: David Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp)-3; Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda)-1; Jens Voigt (RadioShack Leopard)-1; and Thor Hushovd (BMC)-1

The gap to the break is now below three minutes as the riders are now on a long, steady climb. Matthew Busche (RadioShack Leopard) has had a rear flat while it's reported that world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) needed to change into new socks.

72km remaining from 177km

The peloton is stretched out on the winding Lake Hughes Rd. with Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp setting the tempo in the field.

69km remaining from 177km

Westra is resplendent in the green sprinter's jersey. He has 15 points in total, three more than Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda) and five more than Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

Race leader Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) is the only Colombian at the Tour of California. 2013 has been a strong season for Colombian riders with several of his compatriots, such as Sergio Henao, Rigoberto Uran, and Carlos Betancur, having solid results at the ongoing Giro d'Italia.

Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) is currently near the front of the peloton, tucked in at 7th position with several of his teammates in front of him.

66km remaining from 177km

Thor Hushovd (BMC) has dropped back the team car.

Jamis-Hagens Bergman now has two riders setting tempo at the head of the field, with Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp riders right behind them.

The break has less than 6km to go to the day's first sprint line at the 118.9km mark. Expect to see classification leader Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) vie for top honors.

The Bontrager team car has pulled up to the break to speak with Gavin Mannion.

Mannion is handed a fresh bottle at the conclusion of his chat and proceeds to take his turn at the head of the break.

A Vacansoleil-DCM rider has now slipped into the rotation at the front of the peloton to help out Jamis-Hagens Berman, Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale.

The break has turned right onto Elizabeth Lake Rd. and they have less than 1km to go to the first sprint line of the stage.

58km remaining from 177km

Omega Pharma-QuickStep has contributed a rider to the chase at the head of the peloton. Could today be a day for Gianni Meersman? The Belgian has four victories so far this season, two at the Volta a Catalunya and two at the Tour de Romandie. He's got a good turn of speed and can win field sprints on days when the pure sprinters can't survive the hills.

53km remaining from 177km

Andy Schleck's got a smile on his face as he taps out the tempo in the break.

World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) is rolling along in the peloton, having swapped out his socks for a fresh pair.

The rangy figure of Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) is at the back of the peloton, signalling for his team car so he can load up on water bottles.

The break has 7km to go to the second sprint line of the day at Leona Valley with 42km remaining to the finish.

47km remaining from 177km

Once again Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) has taken top points at the second and final intermediate sprint. He was followed across the line by Chad Gavin Mannion then Chad Beyer

Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda) has had some difficulties, flatting once and then soon after needing a second wheel change. Teammate James Stemper is with Mancebo to help pace the Spaniard back to the peloton.

39km remaining from 177km

The break has turned right onto Bouquet Canyon Rd and has about 5km to go to the day's fourth and final KOM, another category 4-rated climb.

Around the time that Mancebo flatted, Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) also punctured.

Mancebo now has two teammates pacing him in the convoy as they leap frog from car to car to the back of the peloton.

Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy p/b Kenda) has regained contact with the peloton and proceeds to immediately move to the front of the action.

World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) has loaded up with bottles and heads back to the peloton to pass them out to his teammates. Not something you see every day.

Cyclingnews' Pat Malach spoke with Bissell Pro Cycling directeur sportif Omer Kem and he said that the plan for the day was for mountains leader Carter Jones to go for the first KOM points on offer, and then be conservative for the rest of the stage. Bissell's Phil Gaimon has been dropped and the team thinks he may have a stomach bug.

Andy Schleck took maximum points at the day's final KOM, with Beyer second, Mannion third and Westra fourth.

34km remaining from 177km

Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp all have multiple riders at the front of the peloton leading the pursuit of the break.

30km remaining from 177km

The riders in the break as all getting last-minute instructions plus sustenance from their various team cars.

And the first casualty of the break is Gavin Mannion (Bontrager), who's slipped off the back with 28km to go.

27km remaining from 177km

The peloton continues along the winding descent with Omega Pharma-QuickStep, Cannondale and Garmin-Sharp massed at the front in pursuit of the break.

Gavin Mannion (Bontrager) has been swept up by the peloton.

23km remaining from 177km

Schleck taking a long turn at the front but it's hard holding off a hard-charging peloton. The break's lead continues to plummet, now at 45 seconds.

18km remaining from 177km

Chad Beyer has a 25-second lead with 17km to go.

With 16.5km to go Schleck and Westra have been caught by the peloton. Only Chad Beyer (Champion System) remains from the early break.

Chad Beyer is out of the saddle, pushing onwards with 15.5km to go.

The peloton now can see Beyer and his lead is only a handful of seconds.

Beyer looks back and sees the peloton wall-to-wall across the road only seconds behind.

13km remaining from 177km

Garmin-Sharp currently setting tempo at the head of the race, followed by Cannondale, Omega Pharma-QuickStep and UnitedHealthcare.

10km remaining from 177km

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) is making his way to the pointy end of the peloton...

Sagan won the field sprint on the opening stage, but it was for third place behind late-race escapees Lieuwe Westra and Francisco Mancebo. Today he'll be looking to earn his first victory of this year's Tour of California.

6km remaining from 177km

Lead-out men are beginning to peak over their shoulders in search of their sprinters...

5km remaining from 177km

It's Markel Irizar (RadioShack Leopard) and his lead is only a second or two.

Irizar is brought back with 4.4km to go.

Cannondale's lead-out on the front on the right side of the road.

Optum is up there, too, along with UnitedHealthcare and Garmin-Sharp

3km remaining from 177km

Cannondale is tucked in behind Saxo-Tinkoff

The fight is on for the prized wheel of Peter Sagan.

A Bontrager rider has crashed and is slow to get up - Ryan Eastman.

Peloton inside of 2km to go and is getting stretched out with Saxo-Tinkoff still on the front.

A bunching now at the front...

BMC is now at the front.

The peloton is under the 1km to go arch.

UnitedHealthcare on the front

Sprint winding up from 500m out...

Orica GreenEdge leads out...

And Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wins!

Orica-GreenEdge thought they had it won, but Sagan came around in the final meters.

Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) finished second, followed by Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) in third.

Top five rounded out by Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Boy van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM)

Top of general classification remains unchanged with Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) keeping the leader's jersey followed by Tejay van Garderen (BMC) at 12 seconds and Phil Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) at 27 seconds.

Provisional top 10 for stage 3:

Provisional GC after stage 3:

Thank you for tuning in to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 3. We'll be back tomorrow for stage 4 and will commence live coverage at 12:35pm PDT when the peloton rolls off the start line in Santa Clarita.

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