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Tour of California 2014: Stage 5


Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of stage 5 of the 2014 Tour of California.

Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of California. The riders will be getting underway shortly from Pismo Beach for their 173km journey to Santa Barbara. It's beautiful California weather, and the surf's up! The water is filled with wet-suited bodies and boards.

The riders are starting on the 1200ft long Pismo Beach pier, it's a pretty dramatic shot for the race photographers. They have only a 0.3mi long neutral section so the action will be ON from the gun!

The riders are off, and rolling out of Pismo Beach. The first of two sprints is only 20km into the stage, so we'll expect the sprinters to keep the race together until then.

After the sprint in Arroyo Grande, there is another one just up the road in Nipomo at km 35.3 - so we are going to have a quick start. After that expect the bunch to break up, and for mountains classification leader Will Routley to work to defend his jersey on the sole category 1 ascent of the San Marcos pass at km. 146.3.

It's a hot day in Southern California, and temps are inching above 100F as they head inland. They'll be going through lots of bottles.

Our start town, Pismo Beach, always makes me think of the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck episode "Ali Baba Bunny", where the pair surface from their underground travels expecting to be in Pismo Beach, but should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque. Instead of Pismo Beach they are in a cave with a hidden treasure...

But really, Pismo Beach is more famous for its clams, which used to be so plentiful they could be harvested with a back hoe, but sadly, like all of our natural resources, the bounty has been greatly diminished.

Today's stage might have a big climb in it, but there are 26.6km between the top and the finish line in Santa Barbara, so there is a chance for the sprinters to come back.

We're still seeing plenty of attacks, but the racing is as hot as the tarmac - it's touching 103F out there now - and nobody can get a clean break.

Riders have been flying through those first 15km, they're past the 5km to go to the first sprint and all together.

A reminder of the GC situation coming into stage 5:
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 13:53:51
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:28
3 Tiago Machado (Por) NetApp-Endura 0:01:09
4 Lawson Craddock (USA) Giant-Shimano 0:01:25
5 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:02:14
6 Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing    0:02:28
7 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek   0:02:29
8 Carter Jones (USA) Optum     0:02:31
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin    0:02:33
10 Javier Acevedo (Col) Garmin Sharp 0:02:34

But, more importantly for the current situation, look for Mark Cavendish to try and unseat Will Routley as points leader

Points classification:
1 William Routley (Can) Optum  19 pts
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step  19
3 Gregory Daniel (USA) Bissell Development Team 17
4 Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 12
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 12
6 Kevin De Masmaeker (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk 11
7 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 10
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 10
9 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 10
10 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 6

It's difficult to get information when the bunch is moving so quickly, but a breakaway escaped before the sprint:

The breakaway is:
Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
Isaac Bolivar (Col) UnitedHealthcare
Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura
Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

Wynants is our highest placed rider on GC, but at 9:44 behind leader Bradley Wiggins in the standings, this move poses no threat. Still, they've only got 2:15. If the sprinters want a chance today they can't let them stretch it out too far.

145km remaining from 173km

Normally feeding from the team cars is not open until 50km into the stage, but today is so hot that the officials have opened the buffet early. It's a billion degrees in this wide open, sun-burnt country of farmland.

Rob Squire (Jamis-Hagens Berman) was chasing that move solo, but faded back to the field. 

Phil Gaimon of Garmin-Sharp is sure there will be a sprint of a decent size today. He told Pat Malach:

The breakaway has stayed together through the sprint line in Nipomo, and this time Camaño won the bonus points:

137km remaining from 173km

The breakaway is heading through the Santa Maria valley, which is the oldest wine appellation in the region, dating back to the 1830s! Even though it's blazing hot today, the ocean normally provides a cooling marine layer, making the area favorable to cool grape varietals like Pinot noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Pinot blanc.

You may recall that Isaac Bolivar was in a previous breakaway on stage 1. He's carrying UnitedHealthcare's flag again today.

123km remaining from 173km

118km remaining from 173km

Our intrepid explorers in the breakaway have passed the natives, kids at the Pioneer Valley High School who were out in force to cheer them on - and are now enjoying the richness of the land, passing fields of delicious strawberries and raspberries. No time to stop and snack, however, as they keep plugging along, holding a steady 2:20 on the field.

Damage reports from the Giro d'Italia are starting to trickle in from the crashed riders. So many went down, it was painful to see them limping to the line.

110km remaining from 173km

Luckily things have been much better for the riders in California. Garmin's Alex Howes is a bit under the weather, and we've had a few spills but nothing on the magnitude of what happened in Italy.

108km remaining from 173km

105km remaining from 173km

One rider in the breakaway who was tipped for big things here was Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly). The Moldovian won the time trial at the Tour of the Gila and was second at Redlands. However, he was hung up in a crash on stage 1.

Tour of California race leader Bradley Wiggins is looking as fit as he did when he won the 2012 Tour de France, and it is clear that he has been working very hard ahead of the Tour de France. Considering his performance at Paris-Roubaix, and the stage that passes over those same cobbles, do you think Wiggins could emerge as Team Sky's leader, or co-leader in the Tour? Join the discussion on our forum.

Either the breakaway is withering in the heat, or the peloton is feeling frisky behind them, because the gap has come down to 1:30. Surely none of these riders were a threat to Wiggins, Dennis or any of our GC leaders.

Team Sky is really keeping the breakaway on a tight leash, the gap so low now they will not allow the media car to be in the gap, so we're pushed on ahead and getting very little information right now. All we know is it's very hot, and they're in the middle of nowhere with only a few cattle from ranches dotting the hillsides.

It seems that the peloton has the breakaway in its sights. They aren't even trying too hard, but apparently the six breakaway riders just don't have good legs today. The heat has taken it out of them.

Oh dear, our cruel task master, race leader Bradley Wiggins, has signalled for a mass nature break. That means those poor six men have to stay out front a little longer.

A big shout out to the three readers following the live coverage from Budapest in Hungary. I've always wanted to visit Budapest - can I come on over?

Peter Sagan's fans in Bratislava, Slovakia, are also following along with Cyclingnews today - ahoj!

The race is actually a bit ahead of schedule today, touching on the fastest schedule of the race time table. They've averaged 26.5mph so far, and that's not easy going.

If the scenery looks at all familiar to the riders, they may have caught these vistas in the movie Sideways, which was filmed near here.

Team Sky is getting some help now from the Orica-GreenEdge team, while the sprinters like Mark Cavendish are hanging onto the back as the bunch is lined out going up an unclassified climb.

Isaac Bolivar is leading the breakaway up this climb, their efforts are earning them some more time on the peloton, it's up to 1:40 now.

Seems that Cyclingnews photographer Jonathan Devich has found himself a herd of longhorn cattle up ahead of the breakaway. Hope he keeps his distance as he works to bring you these scenics.

The breakaway is now enjoying a quick little descent, with Dutch rider Danny van Poppel leading them on the fast section.

The peloton is really hanging back now, although Cannondale has come to the fore to show their intent. The gap is going up, now to 1:45.

The Tour of California visited Santa Barbara last year, too - but then they came from the east, and had no climbs like San Marcos to contend with before the finish. The stage was won by Garmin's Tyler Farrar.

The last time the Tour of California went over the San Marcos Pass to the finish in Santa Barbara was the very first year of the race in 2006, it was also stage 5. Only 36 riders made the front group that year, and the sprint was won by George Hincapie.

The breakaway is once again Michael Schär (BMC), Danny Van Poppel (Trek), Maarten Wynants (Belkin), Isaac Bolivar (UnitedHealthcare), Iker Camano (NetApp-Endura) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly).

The BMC car has requested the presence of Thor Hushovd for a "discussion". Let's see what that team has up its sleeve today.

Whoo! Action - we have an attack from Cannondale's Guillaume Boivin.

Or maybe that wasn't an attack - he was riding on the front and the Orica rider just let up. Boivin appears to be working for Sagan today, it was the other way around on stage 1 and yesterday.

62km remaining from 173km

The Tour of California riders have already accustomed themselves to the "bots dots", or cat eyes, that dot the center lines on the roads in the state. They're there for safety of drivers but they're a menace to bike racers.

The peloton is now getting more serious about the gap to the breakaway: what was 2:15 has dropped back down to 1:55, thanks to Cannondale and Orica-GreenEdge.

Swiss champion Michael Schär has a little lean around a pothole, but sails through it fine. He and his breakaway companions have a big target on their backs, one that's as clear to the overhead camera as that red cross on Schär's back.

However, thanks to his presence up front, the BMC team is taking a back seat to the chasing.

The San Marcos Pass is visible in the distance to the breakaway, but it's way off on the horizon of this long, straight, wide road through the scrubland.

Want to see one of those Belkin Bianchi Oltre bikes up close, like the one Maarten Wynants is on? the Cyclingnews crew caught Wilco Kelderman's mechanic at the Giro d'Italia for this video pro bike.

54km remaining from 173km

Here we go with the "roundabout", it's not quite made it to round yet, so the peloton has to take a hard left. They all make it through just fine.

Will Routley is in the green points jersey today, owing to him leading that classification as well as the mountains one. In the polka dots is Jonny Clarke (UHC) who is the runner-up in that classification. Lawson Craddock (Giant-Shimano) is in the white jersey of best young rider.

Because Clarke, who was the "most courageous" rider yesterday, is in polka dots, the blue jersey for that competition goes to Chris Jones, who was also in the stage 4 breakaway.

While the San Marcos Pass was decisive when the Tour of California was in February, we doubt that as many riders will be dropped on the climb today. It isn't that steep, although the descent is pretty steep and tricky.

According to the internet, the climb is 5% average, and Optum's Brad Huff has the current title, with a time of 21:35. We think he might lose that KOM today...

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) has had to stop for a bike change.

The road leading up to the climb isn't an easy one, and the heat and lumpy roads are starting to weigh on the breakaway. Danny van Poppel isn't looking very comfortable.

Tvetcov is calling for his team car, it's time to get a drink. The entire peloton has been chugging like a bunch of spring break frat boys today, but they'll enjoy the cooler weather on the other side of the pass.

The breakaway's lead is down to just 1:25, and I have bad news for the riders. What was a pleasant 86F in Santa Barbara before has gone up to a rather stifling 96F now.

The orange helmets of the Optum team stand out in stark contrast to the deep green backdrop of the tree-lined hillsides. They're moving up to keep Will Routley up there for the KOM and Carter Jones for GC.

There are about 5km to go before the climb starts, and the break is now less than a minute ahead of the field, still under the control of Orica-GreenEdge.

37km remaining from 173km

The breakaway is on a pre-climb climb, with Bolivar leading the way. The NetApp rider Camaño is also looking strong.

Cannondale has no come to the fore with Aussie Cameron Wurf and Boivin leading the way.

We're getting reports of big crowds and marching bands at the finish line in Santa Barbara. Who doesn't love a marching band? Especially if it's a middle school band, with dubious tuning...

We have an attack from Jens Voigt from the field. Of course Jens is attacking. That's just what he does.

33km remaining from 173km

31km remaining from 173km

The breakaway is on the San Marcos Pass climb now, it's up up up from here.

Remember there are no race radios in this event, so Danny van Poppel won't know that his teammate was trying to bridge, but merely kicked the hornet's nest and sparked the chase. Just 30" or so to the field.

Wynants attacks as the field looms large behind the break. Van Poppel is dropped.

30km remaining from 173km

Bolivar goes again and takes Wynants with him.

Camaño and Schär are caught. Bovliar cracked and Wynants keeps going.

29km remaining from 173km

Wiggins is third wheel, but he's surrounded by Garmin's POC helmets.

28km remaining from 173km

Wiggins has Sagan on his wheel, but the Slovakian champion is looking around for something - perhaps he wants a drink.

Rohan Dennis has his number 13 upside down on his bike. He didn't take part in such superstitions on stage 1 and crashed. He made up for it on the Mt. Diablo to win that stage.

Hello to all the Australians and Kiwis who are following our live coverage. Good morning!

The Tour of California peloton, all together as they head over a large bridge - the peloton has been split in half, we think the gruppetto has formed, but Sagan is up front.

Attack, Jamis-Hagens Berman. It's Jaramillo! The super Colombian climber who showed his talents in the Tour of the Gila.

Jaramillo is way down, 8:26, but Cannondale wants Sagan to win today's stage, so they aren't letting him go far.

Want to know a little more about Daniel Jaramillo? Read Pat Malach's story here.

24km remaining from 173km

Wiggins has one teammate with him, Sagan has two up front with him, too. It doesn't look as if Garmin will be a threat, but Optum attacks.

It's Routley, don't forget he has the green jersey but he's going for polka dots today.

Routley is getting no challenge today. He went so hard he almost wrecked himself, but he's got the maximum points.

Now Bissell takes the front. Keep an eye on those kids, Axel Merckx has schooled them very well and they're always where they need to be.

NetApp-Endura is up front too, but now it's Phinney the bomber that comes to the front to speed down this descent.

Phinney is riding away from the peloton, who are pedalling, but he's coasting, sitting on his top tube, getting right up on the moto.

Phinney is really opening up a decent gap, but Cannondale is coming after him.

Phinney has more of a gap that Jaramillo could manage. He's just flying.

14km remaining from 173km

23km remaining from 173km

How does a 6'5" tall rider get so small on the bike? He's doing 110kmh down this descent. Luckily it's dry and not too technical.

This is a pretty exciting move from the BMC rider. Can he hold off the Cannondale chase?

18km remaining from 173km

Phiney has run out of descent now, and is on his way into Santa Barbara. It will be one hard individual vs. peloton pursuit.

Phinney is taking big risks out front, he nearly went into the curb on a left hand turn. But he's still holding 25"

Mark Cavendish is one sprinter who did not make the lead peloton. He won't be getting that green jersey back.

Shaded by the palm trees, Phinney hammers into the coastal town. It's now 35" for the American, can that be right?

12km remaining from 173km

11km remaining from 173km

Phinney won his first mass-start road race in the Tour of Poland last year, and he's looking pretty solid for another win.

Orica and Cannondale just do not look that peppy  - Phinney is up to 40 seconds ahead. That's remarkable!

Phinney is heading up a small hill, he's got some enthusiastic fans running alongside cheering him on. Attack from Lucas Euser from the peloton.

The peloton is really disorganized now, Cannondale has to be demoralized - they worked so hard only to get jumped by a Pro Conti rider.

Phinney has just 5.4km to go. A former world individual pursuit champion, he's familiar with that length of effort. But Euser's attack has angered the field, they've closed down the gap to 25 seconds.

Euser was caught and now Orica is putting some pressure on that throttle.

Phinney can see the ocean, it's cooling breeze is going away from him, however. He still has 3.7km to go and 25 seconds. It's going to be close!

For the second stage in a row the tailwind is favoring the breakaway, but can this lone leader hold off a 30-strong chase group?

2km remaining from 173km

The gloves are off, literally. Phinney's bare hands draped over the bars, he's inside 1km to go - where is the field?

The sprinters are going to be so pissed if they miss this chance again.

The 10-wide peloton is your answer. Phinney has this - he just needs to seal the deal in these last 400m.

I cannot believe that downhill attack actually worked! He took a bow and raises the two arm salute. Phinney winney!

Sagan gets second from the field and Goss behind.

That was certainly a bow-worthy performance by Taylor Phinney. Wiggins was happy to let him go, and he keeps that yellow jersey going into tomorrow's critical stage.

Tomorrow is the 156km stage finishing on Mountain High, and will be a real GC battle. But this one was all Taylor Phinney, congratulations to him.

Your top 10:

1 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 3:59:33
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale 0:00:12
3 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 0:00:12
4 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:12
5 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:00:12
6 Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:12
7 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:12
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:12
9 Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura 0:00:12
10 Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura 0:00:12

General classification after stage 5

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 17:53:36
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:28
3 Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:09

General classification after stage 5

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky 17:53:36
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin Sharp 0:00:28
3 Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:09
4 Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Shimano 0:01:25
5 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge 0:02:14
6 Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:02:28
7 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing 0:02:29
8 Carter Jones (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:02:31
9 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:02:33
10 Javier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Garmin Sharp 0:02:34

Whew! That was a really exciting finish to what should have been a sprint. Thank you for reading, we hope for some more fireworks tomorrow! Tune in at 11:30 PDT to follow all the action with Cyclingnews.

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