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Tour of California 2015: Stage 2


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour of California from Nevada City to Lodi, a 193.7km stage.

The race kicks off from Nevada City this morning, one of my personal favorite towns in California. The town has hosted the start three times now - though the one in 2011 was rather impromptu. The town was only supposed to host the intermediate sprint that year, but when snow forced the first stage to be cancelled, Nevada City was called upon to hastily organize a stage 2 start because the snow hadn't cleared sufficiently in Tahoe. It went off without a hitch, a testament to the commitment to cycling that this great little city has.

The peloton is underway for a 1.8km neutral section before blasting off out of Nevada City at high speed.

Nevada City always brings out the crowds - the sides of the roads are packed with the children from the schools, who have been brought out to cheer the racers on.

The course doesn't go through Auburn this year, as it has in past years, but passes by on the nearby Auburn-Foresthill Bridge, quite a scenic span that crosses the North Fork of the American River. It is the fourth highest bridge in the USA.

Mark Cavendish and his Etixx-Quickstep team took perfect control of the Tour of California in the opening stage, netting the stage victory and the first race leader's jersey. Etixx and MTN-Qhubeka did much of the work to pull back the day's four-man breakaway with Peter Sagan's Tinkoff-Saxo team only appearing at the front late in the race "as the TV came on", Cavendish was quick to point out.

The general classification is still quite tight, but some of the breakaway riders were keen to get in the time bonuses to perhaps get a leg up on the yellow jersey. Will Clarke (Drapac) took out all three yesterday and is just one second shy of Cavendish in the overall. Rob Britton (Smartstop), winner of the Tour of the Gila, is perhaps one of the more dangerous men to gain time, sneaking in four bonus seconds before a mechanical took him out of the breakaway.

The first attack came from Will Clarke (Drapac), looking to gain more time, Josh Berry (Jelly Belly), and Carson Miller (Jamis-Hagens Berman) are along for the ride, but not gaining much time.

That breakaway has been absorbed and there has been a new attack from another Clark - this one is Oscar Clark from the Hincapie team. He's got about 15" on the bunch going uphill on the aptly named Rattlesnake Road. It really bites.

175km remaining from 193km

173km remaining from 193km

Amaran has been joined by Hincapie's Robin Carpenter in pursuit of our two elite breakaway riders, but they are pulling away - now at 2:35.

The chasers are being helped by a twisty descent - both Carpenter and Amaran go downhill quite well. They're within a minute of the leaders, chasing separately - Carpenter a dozen seconds behind Amaran.

Looks like Cavendish's Etixx-Quickstep team is ready to let the breakaway off the leash, there has been a massive slowing and the gap has ballooned to almost three minutes. Amaran is closing in on the leaders, and Carpenter won't be long now.

165km remaining from 193km

Whew! Time to take a breather after a furious start to the stage and do some recaps of the other great race coverage we have on Cyclingnews - the Giro d'Italia stage was eventful today, but Michael Matthews got his win in the maglia rosa.

Back to California, it looks like Joe Dombrowski is now the leader for Cannondale-Garmin after Andrew Talansky abandoned with a cold yesterday.

There are three bonus sprint points along the course today, one at km. 40.3 at Meadow Vista, one in Cool (great town name!) at km 68.3, and the last one in El Dorado Hills at km 95.8.

Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop) probably wanted to be in the breakaway today but didn't make it. He told Cyclingnews at the start there would be a lot of competition to get in one.

157km remaining from 193km

The gap is going out to four minutes now for Oss, Irizar, Amaran and Carpenter.

154km remaining from 193km

The results of sprint 1:
1 Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team)
2 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Trek Factory Racing)
3 Luis Romero Amaran (Jamis - Hagens Berman)

152km remaining from 193km

The field is rolling along behind by 4:40 at the moment, just passing the nice crowd at the sprint point. LottoNl-Jumbo's Maarten Wynants had to get a front wheel change, but other than that they're just cruising.

Cannondale-Garmin is without Tom Danielson this year in Tour of California. The American is over at the Giro d'Italia, where he was one of yesterday's crash victims. You can read here how he's coping.

The whole start to today's stage has been twisty, narrow little country roads that have been undulating up and down. They're still in the foothills and will pass east of Auburn. It will continue to be this way until they get near the third sprint in El Dorado, where the roads will open up making the peloton's chase much easier.

143km remaining from 193km

Cyclingnews spoke with Optum director Jonas Carney this morning, who predicted the wind could cause some splits:

138km remaining from 193km

134km remaining from 193km

The leaders are starting up the KOM now - it's the only one today, a category 4 ascent with 4 points at the top to the first placed rider, then 3,2,1 for the rest.

The field is screaming down the descent toward the KOM, going almost  80+kph. Ahead, the break is going up the winding road to the sprint point.

BMC's Michael Schar talked to Cyclingnews today about the team's ambitions. They're without Peter Stetina, who was supposed to be their leader until his awful crash in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

130km remaining from 193km

The leaders have two things to sprint for today: first the KOM, then 4.2km later the second sprint in the super cool town of Cool.

The breakaway is waiting for the last minute to light up the attacks for the mountains jersey.

The leaders are through the KOM and on a steep, technical descent that leads to Cool.

Cool used to be known as Cave Valley, but someone somewhere along the line thought that the name wasn't good enough.

Carpenter attacked and managed to win the KOM over Oss, Amaran with Irizar behind. So perhaps the mountains jersey is not a goal for the Basque climber.

Correction KOM results are as follows:
1 Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team)
2 Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team)
3 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Trek Factory Racing)
4 Luis Romero Amaran (Jamis - Hagens Berman)

126km remaining from 193km

Carpenter is on a real tear out there, known as "Robear", he's now taken both intermediate sprints and the KOM. He'll be in the mountains jersey tomorrow.

The route descends from Cool on some bumpy little roads. We've got another Rattlesnake-named road on the route today: Rattlesnake Bar. I'm at a loss as to why snakes would be at a bar, though perhaps they get thirsty too.

119km remaining from 193km

Etixx-Quickstep is tapping out a steady tempo on the front of the bunch, holding the breakaway at 5:10, but will they keep working? Yesterday it was only MTN-Qhubeka who pitched in, but the South African team didn't quite get their sprint right. Etixx already has their stage win so aren't under so much pressure. The other teams will need to work more today.

The breakaway is heading downhill at high speed on a narrow road with no guard rails. The road levels out then ascends slightly en route to the next sprint in El Dorado.

Another team, like Tinkoff-Saxo, is under the gun to get some results, and that's Cannondale-Garmin. They've been struggling to prove that the sum of the two teams who merged is stronger than the individual parts, and only have two wins this year: one by Ben King and one by Ramunas Navardausaks.

Getting some "guess the catch" game entries:

108km remaining from 193km

The temperatures are going up as they head out of the hills - from 71F at the start it's now nearing 80, but the stiff breeze will keep them fresh... or not!

The leaders still have 1km to the feed zone and a 5:30 gap to the field. It's gone out as they descend slightly on the two-lane road lined with ranches and mansions.

We've got several guesses the catch will come at 8km to go. The riders enter Lodi with 8.3km to go, so that would make it just after the start of the first of 2.5 finishing circuits in the town.

100km remaining from 193km

I think everyone in the cycling world can breathe a little sigh of relief. The official word on Pozzovivo came from the Giro organisation:

Domenico Pozzovivo crashed in the descent of Barbagelata (28 km of the finish of Stage 3 of Giro d’Italia). He has been transferred to Genova Hospital where he undergoes complete medical examination. « Domenico suffers from a cranial-facial trauma but the scanner reveals no intra-cranial lesion. He has deep wounds above his right eye and received slitches. He is conscious and lucid but has no memory of the crash » says Doctor Eric Bouvat, AG2R LA MONDIALE Pro Cycling Team Medical Manager in relation with Doctor Roberto Parravicini, Team’s doctor in the Giro.

You can read the full story on Pozzovivo's crash in this detailed story here.

We've had a number of fantastic videos from the Giro and Tour of California this week. If you missed them on our site, please subscribe to our Youtube channel!

It seems as though our breakaway has met Mr. Headwind and he's giving them grief. They've got 1km to go to the sprint.

97km remaining from 193km

The crowds are gathering in Lodi, which, we're told isn't pronounced like it looks. Rather than low-DEE, it's LOH-DIE with equal emphasis on each syllable. The riders aren't on a particularly fast schedule today, so they should be galloping into town around 3:50 local time.

With another bunch sprint likely today, Etixx-QuickStep's Mark Renshaw will figure into the finale once again. Cavendish's lead out man crashed yesterday after he hit a pothole, but he recovered in time to provide a perfect lead out for the Manx Missile. Cyclingnews asked him about the crash before today's stage.

97km remaining from 193km

Sky's Danny Pate is getting some service, but he should be back in the field soon.

76km remaining from 193km

Tinkoff-Saxo has come to the front now that the television cameras are on, and the LottoNl-Jumbo boys are waiting just behind Etixx, their bright yellow jerseys creating a visual sensation next to Optum's orange helmets.

The race is heading directly into the wind as they head down toward Lodi, but there might be some opportunities to split the bunch in a crosswind after they cross out of Sacramento County and turn west toward Lodi with about 30km to go.

The landscape around the race today is surprisingly green considering the extreme drought that California has been experiencing. There has been some rain here and there over the winter, but nothing to really turn the situation around. The cattle the peloton are passing seem happy to have green grass to munch on.

It's a little confusing with the new jersey designs this year, the race leader is yellow with blue, the points classification isn't green anymore, it's sort of neon yellow and green, and the mountains, young rider and most courageous jerseys are predominantly white. At least the mountains jersey has polka dots, so Carpenter will be pretty obvious on the bunch tomorrow.

69km remaining from 193km

67km remaining from 193km

The Drapac squad are doing a whole US campaign this year, and have been riding quite well. In Tour of the Gila they came close to a stage win with Wouter Wippert in the criterium. The Dutch rider won a stage in the Tour Down Under and is hoping to get back to beating the top riders in the world here in California.

The pee break has given the breakaway just the break they needed, and their gap is up to 3:45 as the peloton still relies on the pace making of one lonely Tinkoff-Saxo rider.

Will Clarke's points classification jersey looks a lot like Peter Sagan's Slovakian champion's jersey, but luckily Sagan is wearing polka dots even though there were no mountains on stage 1, the sponsors still want their kit out there.

63km remaining from 193km

Luis Amaran is getting an extra boost from a cola, it's been a long day for the Jamis-Hagens Berman rider.

Correction, it was Warren Baruil (Giant-Alpecin) who stopped for a change. He's back underway and enjoying the draft provided by the Optum team car.

59km remaining from 193km

Jesus Hernandez, who has been tapping out that pace in the peloton, is Alberto Contador's normal right-hand man. But rather than race the Giro d'Italia, he's been held back for the Tour de France and is getting some good tempo work here in California.

Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan are having a discussion - what do you think they're talking about? How many riders Tinkoff will put on the front? Whether or not they agree with Oleg Tinkov's comments about Sagan's form? Comparing salaries? 

55km remaining from 193km

Cannondale-Garmin have come to the fore now that the turn into the crosswind is getting closer. It's still about 20k away, but we're starting to see some nervous energy in the bunch.

MTN-Qhubeka is waiting in the wings so far. Yesterday they really took control but came up short. Tyler Farrar told Cyclingnews this morning: "Cavendish is certainly the man to beat. They rode a perfect sprint yesterday and he was impressively fast. We'll take another crack at it today and hope that we can put it together. "

Actually there is a kilometer of crosswinds coming up in 4km, the breakaway are going into the wind still, but it looks to have let up some.

48km remaining from 193km

One of the Etixx riders has gone up to have a talk to the motorcycle leading the peloton. Perhaps it was a little too close.

46km remaining from 193km

There has been a serious increase in the pace in the peloton as they head toward the turn into the crosswind. Etixx is drilling it.

Unfortunately for Quickstep, the ranch along this road has a fence acting as a bit of a wind-break. It's not splitting up the bunch at all, but they are lined out.

Back into the headwind, the Etixx team lets Hernandez take over, the gap to the break is not falling very fast. It's at 2:55. It should be enough to get them caught, however - but the teams do not want to make the catch too early because then they have to control more attacks.

40km remaining from 193km

Looks like the peloton have a cross-headwind and Van Keirsbulck is only giving a few riders a chance to draft, one of them is Hernandez.

37km remaining from 193km

30km remaining from 193km

27km remaining from 193km

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20km remaining from 193km

The roads are now multi-lane smooth and wide, and the pointy end of the peloton is sharp-sharp. Maciej Bodnar picks it up for Tinkoff-Saxo.

The difference in freshness between the break and the field is really showing now. Just 1:45 separates them, and it's falling fast. There are new faces at the front of the field, with MTN-Qhubeka working hard for Ciolek, Farrar and Goss.

There is a lot of movement in the peloton now as riders start to get into position for the entry into the finishing circuits, where things are going to get hairy.

The Zinfandel vines are nice and green against the brown soil - this county is famous for their Zins.

14km remaining from 193km

13km remaining from 193km

The peloton just bunched up and many other trains came forward. Now it's Optum at the front as the peloton splits around a median.

11km remaining from 193km

11km remaining from 193km

Oh no! there's been a big crash, MTN, Jumbo, Jelly Belly - 15 riders down or more.

This is outside of the final 3km so Barguil, who is Giant's GC hopeful is down and losing time. Also down is Fred Rodriguez.

That crash in the 10km to go mark really disrupted things, the break has 30 seconds.

Oh no, Ben Jacques-Maynes is on the ground, too. He's the only rider to race all 10 Tours of California and will retire after the finish.

Peter Kennaugh was delayed in the crash, too. The break is in the circuit and in sight of the peloton.

Jacques-Maynes was holding his shoulder. Oh dear oh dear.

The breakaway are trying very hard, but with 7km to go they're just sitting ducks.

It seems that the crash might have caused more of a disruption than we knew, the gap is back out with 6km to go at 20 seconds.

Most of our guess the catch guessers have been wiped out already. We have one that was 4km to go that looks pretty good right now. They're at 4.4km to go with 10 seconds.

Barguil is one-leg pedalling to the finish, not a great sign.

3km remaining from 193km

Drapac have lost the front now as Etixx-Quickstep bring their world-class lead out back to the fore.

There is no control, everyone dives to the front for the squeeze, Tinkoff emerge with an equal share of the front, Sagan and Cavendish locked in battle.

Drapac are tucked in, but the turns are keeping them from being able to get by. Sagan's boys seem to have the advantage now with just under 2km to go.

BMC are now on the Etixx train for Drucker, but Cavendish is locked on Sagan.

1km remaining from 193km

Renshaw is going elbow-to-elbow with Tinkoff as the leadout ramps up!

Jumbo has a rider up there too, but it is Tinkoff in the lead

Wippert jumps early!

Cavendish gets around Wippert on the left, Sagan on the right, but who won?

MTN's train went off the rails ... Cavendish gets another win.

Looks to be Cavendish, Sagan, and Wippert the top three today. Cavendish keeps the race lead, Sagan will wear the points jersey tomorrow though Cav leads that too, Robin Carpenter will take polka dots.

Today's results

Thanks for reading, we'll be back tomorrow for another fun stage - the next is a circuit out and back from San Jose, twisting up and over Mt Hamilton before plunging back to for an uphill finish.

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