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Tour of California 2014: Stage 7


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 7 of the 2014 Tour of California

Hello and welcome back to the live coverage of the 2014 Tour of California. We've got another brilliant blue sky day in So Cal, heading off for the neutral 3.8km from the Town Center Mall in Santa Clarita.

The Optum team has written "BRAM" on their race numbers today.

144km remaining from 146km

Race leader Bradley Wiggins is looking mighty fine in that bright yellow jersey, and he was proud of the way his team rode on stage 6 to Mountain High. You can read more about how the team learned from their mistakes on Mt. Diablo in this article from Cyclingnews' Pat Malach.

The riders will face a rather arduous journey to Pasadena today. They'll head up into familiar territory for the Tour of California, up into the Angeles National Forest. They'll head east to CA14, and cross onto Soledad Canyon road, heading into the National Forest land toward the first sprint of the day, at Acton.

After the sprint the race will take a right turn onto Aliso Canyon Road, then head South on the Angeles Forest Highway. They'll turn onto Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road and then climb up to the Angeles Crest Highway. This road could take the riders to Mt. Baldy, but this year they'll turn the opposite direction to head to Pasadena, downhill.

138km remaining from 146km

Welcome to the readers tuning in from Colombia today. No doubt fans of stage 6 winner Esteban Chavez, or perhaps looking for Janier Acevedo to show himself again today. The Tour of California has been a real proving ground for Colombian talent, and this year has been no different.

Perhaps not wanting to be outdone by the Colombians, Gregory Brenes from Costa Rica (Jamis-Hagens Berman) goes on the attack.

130km remaining from 146km

Taylor Phinney has made another move - he went up the road with Scott Zwizanski (Optum) and Eloy Teruel (Jamis-Hagens Berman). They were joined by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) and now have 10 seconds.

Not wanting to miss the boat again, Matteo Trentin has given Omega Pharma - Quick-Step a representative in the move by bridging across.

Now Mathew Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) is joining the party. All aboard, gentlemen!

125km remaining from 146km

The attacks are still flying, counters erupting from the field, 8 riders are trying to get a thing going.

It's a hot one yet again, with temperatures soaring into the 90s F, and no shelter here from the baking sun. 11 riders are split off the field with a slight advantage.

This group seems to be having more luck - they're gaining an advantage now.

Bolivar has been in more than half of the breakaways this tour...

Cyclingnews' Pat Malach cornered Ian Boswell about Sky's tactics for today. Here's what he had to say:

Well the breakaway was too big to live and has been caught. Martin Velits (OPQS) got tangled up in the confusion with a BMC rider, and both went down. Velits had to get a new bike but both are up and riding.

114km remaining from 146km

Well the magic number has seem to been chosen and that number is seven. Seven riders are off the front and Sir Bradley deems it good, and has called for a mass nature break. They have 50 seconds.

One more we have Greg Van Avermaet in the move. The BMC rider is joined by Ben King (Garmin Sharp), Lars Boom (Belkin), Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano), Isaac Bolivar Hernandez (UnitedHealthcare), Luis Enrique Lemus (Jelly Belly) and Eloy Teruel (Jamis - Hagens Berman)

The official results list Luis Lemus as Luis Davila, but the two-time Mexican champion goes by his paternal surname. 

107km remaining from 146km

The gap had gone up to 1:30, but once the peloton got rolling again after the nature break, it quickly went back under a minute. 

The heat has been hard on the riders. Trek's Matthew Busche lost more than two minutes yesterday.

The team cars are being allowed forward to the breakaway, so it is looking pretty good for the lucky 7. They are enjoying another tailwind day today, so the Cannondale and Sky teams might want to keep them on a tight leash today.


The landscape here is quite barren - very dry and brown, with only some sage and scrub oak eking out a living on the rocky land.

Bissell's Greg Daniel had a great result on stage 5 to Santa Barbara, showing his promise as a sprinter. The American spoke with Pat Malach yesterday for this video interview.

96km remaining from 146km

Speaking of videos, Cyclingnews has a virtual treasure trove of videos for you to view all of them here on our YouTube channel. Subscribe today!

The breakaway is now passing a section of the mountains that burned not too long ago. The wildfires can be destructive, but they can also cause wildflowers to spring forth from the ground that haven't been seen in decades. This happened this year on Mt. Diablo.

As we predicted, Cannondale has a keen interest in keeping this move close, and are keeping the pace high and holding the seven to a 1:40 lead. Peter Sagan definitely wants to add to his record today, because tomorrow's finale is a very tough circuit that may not suit him.

The breakaway is now having a snack from the feed zone, tapping out their pace, keeping less than two minutes on the bunch.

88km remaining from 146km

Giant-Shimano rider Chad Haga was signed to the WorldTour team after a break-out year with Optum. He was top 10 overall in Tour of California last year, but this year is working for teammate and fellow American Lawson Craddock.

Giant-Shimano coach Aike Visbeek told us this morning that on the Mountain High stage, the team fought hard. "We really wanted to conserve until the last 2km, and we still had three guys up there near the end. Lawson fought his way up to the finish and moved up."

Following the abandon of Tom Boonen yesterday, his doppelganger Guillaume Van Keirsbulck has abandoned.

The breakaway is seeing 1km to the KOM.

83km remaining from 146km

The breakaway is now plummeting off the category 3 KOM, with Lemus taking home the prize money. Their lead has edged up to 2:35 but Orica and Cannondale are helping Sky nail that back.

This descent is not one for the feint of heart - they are tipping the speedometer needle to 100kph.

And to the left of the peloton is a sheer cliff hundreds of meters down... do not screw up, gentlemen.

The peloton speeds past a stand of former trees - the area possibly one of the many thousands of acres that burned in the 2009 Station Fire.

Cameron Wurf of Cannondale is trying to maximize his aerodynamics by pedaling while lying on his top tube, but I'm not sure the silliness of this style warrants the advantage.

... but cyclists do plenty of silly things to go faster.

The peloton is taking that hard left onto Upper Big Tujunga road, 14km to the KOM point. They were going so fast, and the turn was around a bend, so the marshals warned them with whistles and flags, and CAUTION signs on the sides of the road.

The mountains classification leader Will Routley is bouncing out of the saddle, sitting in the bunch, not worried. The breakaway won't threaten his lead in that classification.

UnitedHealthcare's Lucas Euser is back near Routley. He had an asthma attack on the final climb yesterday and lost more than six minutes. Luckily the medics were there to help him out so he could finish.

A very Happy Birthday to Greg Van Avermaet, who is on the breakaway right now. He turns 29 today.

We wonder if Van Avermaet can get a present for himself by winning this stage today. We have great admiration for the Belgian, who was on the podium in both the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, both times second place.

In the Omloop, Van Avermaet finished the race which was held in horribly cold and wet conditions, wearing just one glove. For two months we wondered why? Why only one glove? It turns out, as Pat Malach found, that Van Avermaet's hands had gone numb with the cold, and he took one off to see if it would help, but it didn't, so he left the other glove on.

65km remaining from 146km

Another rider still looking for a win this year is Lars Boom (Belkin). He broke his elbow in a crash at Paris-Nice earlier this year, and it put a damper on his Classics season. He last won a race at the ZLM Toer last year.

We're afraid that 2:35, which is their current gap, will not be enough to hold off the sprinters today. They've got three 9.9km finishing circuits, so it won't be that steady tailwind that has aided the breakaways on stages 4 and 5.

57km remaining from 146km

57km remaining from 146km

The grades are getting a little steeper as we head to the KOM, but it's not enough for the breakaway riders to get out of the saddle. They're taking it steadily.

Van Avermaet is at the back, looking less of a natural climber than the other three, but he's hanging on, knowing that it's all downhill from here.

Can Van Avermaet duplicate that amazing performance of Taylor Phinney of stage 5? It's a little bit more difficult from the top of the climb, as they have 56 whole kilometers still to go from this line.

Bolivar leads Van Avermaet across the line at the KOM.

Back in the field, Mark Cavendish has been tailed off on the climb, unless he can rejoin he will not be challenging Sagan for that green jersey today. He's got some time to get back, but is missing two teammates now.

54km remaining from 146km

It's not "all downhill" from here, actually, they only went down a dip and have a small leg-breaker to go up before beginning the descent in earnest.

KOM 2:
1 Isaac Bolivar (UHC)
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
3 Chad Haga (Giant-Shimano)
4 Ben King (Garmin-Sharp)
5 Lars Boom (Belkin)

Bolivar had a tough patch on the climb but muscled his way back up to the other three. Haga's pace was too much for him, but the road flattened out some. Now King heads to the front and pushes the pace.

Good morning Australia! Congratulations to your Cadel Evans for taking the lead in the Giro d'Italia. Find out what Cadel had to say about it here.

The team cars are moving in to feed their riders while they can, since the descent will make it impossible, and by the time they get on the circuits feeding will be closed.

The three chasers, Boom, Teruel and Lemus are in sight of the peloton, while the four ahead are still climbing and losing ground on the chase.

The leaders have a "doozy" of a descent in front of them according to Pat Malach, who compares it to the Glendora Mountain road used in previous years. It seems to never end. It's probably a lot more fun on a bike than in the car getting motion sickness, however.

Looks like Matt Goss is also in the gruppetto with Cavendish, as is Fred Rodriguez. No word on how far back they are.

The peloton is in a long, sinuous line, snaking down this twisty descent at breakneck speeds. Fingers crossed everyone gets down safely! The roads are quite wide, however, compared with those of the European races so there's room to maneuver.

The landscape is changing rapidly as the breakaway moves through the different ecosystems - while it was quite barren at the top, there are more trees and wildflowers at the lower elevations.

45km remaining from 146km

42km remaining from 146km

They're on another little climb that interrupts the descent, and there are a number of fans at the intersection to cheer them on.

The five-man breakaway is chased down the road by a man carrying the California flag. They've got a beautiful view up ahead of the mountain range, but no time to take it all in...

Cannondale is back on the gas with a lead foot, stringing out the peloton. The gap went from 1:20 to 1:05 in very short order.

The leaders have now lost enough of their advantage that it's under one minute, so it is not looking very good for them.

37km remaining from 146km

The second peloton with Cavendish, Goss and US champion Fred Rodriguez is still not able to make contact.

Ugh. If Lucas Euser had asthma yesterday, I hope he has his inhaler today. The brown haze over the valley is visible against the blue sky up ahead.

Just 35 seconds now, and still 34km left to race. Cannondale is using the force of gravity to help them chase down the five leaders. By the time they reach the bottom this breakaway will be over, and then they'll need to control the inevitable counter-attacks.

Riders will want to avoid getting too close to the side of the road here, as the unstable cliff sides litter the pavement with rocks.

The breakaway has found civilization! They're down in the tony town of La Canada Flintridge, one of the priciest neighborhoods in the USA.

No time to stop and shop for real estate, however, as the breakaway has just 25 seconds. They're on a five-lane wide road now and using every inch of it.

25km remaining from 146km

Cannondale is happy to keep the pressure on: Degenkolb is in the front group but they'll want to keep Cavendish from rejoining, if he hasn't already.

The peloton still appears to be smaller than normal, that gruppetto may not have rejoined yet, but we've had no information from the race caravan on Cavendish.

Trek is keeping a strong presence near the front, we wonder if Jens Voigt might be planning a cheeky counter-attack when this break is caught.

Trek also has a good sprinter in Jasper Stuyven, so they may be keeping him in position for the finish.

20km remaining from 146km

Cavendish's group has most certainly not rejoined the field. He's back there with a couple Giant-Shimano riders and some others. But Degenkolb is in the main peloton ahead - but is short on teammates.

Bolivar attacks into a turn and Boom and Haga get tailed off. it's a 180-degree turn and they can see the peloton coming in the opposite direction... they're very close to being caught.

Van Avermaet doesn't want to give up, and King is the only rider who can hold the Belgian's wheel.

King is pretty determined, too. He took his US Pro championship a few years ago with a very gutsy solo attack. But we think this chase is a tad more organized.

15km remaining from 146km

There are thousands of fans lining the 5km finishing circuit that they'll do three times. Van Avermaet is pushing the pace, it's out to 15 seconds now.

King has been able to stretch his abilities a bit more since moving to Garmin-Sharp from the Radioshack/Trek team. He's been in quite a few breakaways this year, including one in Tirreno-Adriatico that went to the line. He ended up third on the stage.

King is from Virginia - east coast, represent!

The two leaders have managed to eke out another 10 seconds, to total 25 seconds on the field, but it is just the calm before the storm.

10km remaining from 146km

Bissell has a man up front for Greg Daniel - he's pretty speedy and showed it in Santa Barbara. Pat Malach interviewed Daniel - you can see it here.

The Bissell team is led by Axel Merckx, son of the legend Eddy Merckx, but who has made his own name developing young talent. Ben King, in our breakaway, is one of his prodigies.

We're afraid that these two riders are just minnows for the big fish behind. The peloton is just waiting to swallow them up, and the catch is imminent.

A NetApp rider has bridged across to the duo.

The bunch got very close, but the NetApp rider is helping to keep the break clear.

A Jamis rider has attacked from the field, caught the break and gone up the road.

Oh no - the Jamis rider obviously did not realize there was another lap to go and he celebrated the victory but it was one lap to go.

It's embarrassing, but perhaps it's a bit of a language barrier.

Regardless, at one to go the breakaway was caught and now it's all Cannondale, all the time.

Cannondale took a back seat, and now UnitedHealthcare takes over.

Rather that was the most courageous jersey. Now Trek is up there for Van Poppel.

2km remaining from 146km

Optum has a few riders still in this bunch, but where has all the green gone?

1km to go and BMC's Phinney is leading out Hushovd.

Lots of turns going into the final 200m.

Sagan dives the inside and moves up into fourth wheel.

Trek has a rider up there and Hushovd goes!

But Sagan gets the jump out of the last turn.

Sagan wins!

Van Poppel was right up there in third, and then Degenkolb shakes his head, just couldn't navigate the turns.

That win will likely seal Sagan's green jersey for the year.

The top 10:

Ted King leads the gruppetto around the circuits, he'll get the news that his teammate has won.

That was a tricky, tricky finish and perfect for Sagan.

Thank you all for reading, and be sure to join us for the final stage, it's an early one at 8:45am PDT, right after the end of the Giro d'Italia. Brew a big pot of coffee and stick with Cyclingnews all morning!

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