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Tour of California 2015: Stage 3

Welcome back to Cyclingnews coverage of the Tour of California. We're on stage 3, a 169.8km stage out and back from San Jose that includes Mt. Hamilton and an uphill finish. It should be a humdinger!

Stage 3 of the Tour of California starts and ends in San Jose, with the traditional rollout from Barryessa Road near East Foothills that has been used many times in the 10-year history of the race.

The riders will skip the ascent of Sierra Road, instead taking Calaveras Road up to the reservoir and on to Livermore. It will be a sharp climb out of town followed by a lovely, winding tree-lined road for the first 10 miles or so, then opens up as they head toward Livermore and the interstate highways. There's an amateur time trial that takes place on this road each year.

Riders have a 2km neutral roll out, then head straight up hill.

Robin Carpenter had a great day on stage 2, he was the last rider to make the four-man breakaway that nearly stayed away until the end. The Hincapie rider mopped up all of the sprint bonuses and took the lead in the best young rider and mountains classification, and is now third on the general classification.

"I'm a little bit tired, but it's only day three, so there is only so tired you can get in one day," Carpenter said this morning.

"It is going to be straight out of the gate. We have a little bit of flat road before we start going up into the hills over there. It is going to be pretty tough on the first ascent. I don't think the break is going to go there. It's is going to be a big ol' break that goes today."
 

The riders are off for their neutral 2km, and the racing will begin once they cross Hostetter Rd outside of Milpitas.

This part of San Jose is a bit more modest than some areas of Silicon Valley, it's quiet and residential - a few people at home push back the curtains to see what all the fuss is about.

And they're off!

Mark Cavendish extended his lead in the overall classification after taking his second consecutive stage win yesterday, but today's course might make things a bit trickier for him to make it a hat-trick. Peter Sagan might get the advantage today, especially on the technical descents later in the stage. He normally climbs better than Cavendish.

Right away, six riders go on the attack.

We have two riders who did not take the start today, both were involved in the crash in Lodi: Warren Barguil (Team Giant-Alpecin) and Tyler Magner (Hincapie Racing Team).

There have been many attacks so far, but nobody has made anything stick quite yet.

Today is the day for the mountains classification to really take shape. There are no intermediate sprints, but five mountain primes. The first is at km. 58.2 on Mines Road south of Livermore, then there are two category 4 ascents in the San Antonio Valley at km. 101.8 and 112.4, but it's the biggie - Mt. Hamilton - that provides the most points.

Hamilton is a HC climb and pretty tough in points. It climbs up to the observatory, then has some sharp scary bends as it plummets back toward San Jose.

There's one last Category 2 on Quimby Road with 29.3km to go, and then the uphill finish to the Motorcycle Park is a category 4.

It's quite a bit cooler today than it was yesterday, with temperatures just above 60F, but it's sunny. They'll see some pretty strong winds out of the WNW today, and around finish time it could get quite gusty, according to the forecast.

Our jerseys today are as follows: Mark Cavendish holds the yellow jersey of overall race leader. Peter Sagan wears the sort of green jersey of points classification leader. Robin Carpenter leads the mountains classification and is in polka dots, and he also leads the young rider standings but that jersey is on Danny van Poppel's back. Markel Irizar (Trek) wears the jersey of most courageous rider - fitting, since he is a cancer survivor, having overcome testicular cancer back in 2002.

BMC is on the attack, but so far nothing solid has been able to form - there are too many riders interested in the mountains classification it seems.

@Laura_Weislo @AmgenTOC #atoc2015 I see 2 birthday boys in the peloton @JoeDombro & @TravisMcCabe Happy birthday to both of them!

@cat_nurse Tue, 12th May 2015 19:01:25

Nice profile pic, @cat_nurse! Joe Dombrowski is Cannondale-Garmin's leader now that Andrew Talansky abandoned on day 1. Travis McCabe (SmartStop) would be a good rider for the birthday breakaway, too.

There are a few riders off the front as the peloton goes up a steep little climb.

156km remaining from 168km

Looks like the breakaway is getting itself established on Calaveras Road, it's Michael Schär (BMC), Travis Meyer (Drapac), Gregory Brenes (Jamis-Hagnes Berman), Greg Daniel (Axeon) and Chris Butler (SmartStop) with a 15 second lead

It looks like UHC's Danny Summerhill made the move, too, and it might be Daniel Eaton and not Greg Daniel for Axeon.

Someone is in this breakaway that some team does not like. The gap was 35 seconds, but is coming back down. I suspect Schär might be too much of a threat to let go up the road.

It is Greg Daniel, not Daniel Eaton for Axeon in the move.

152km remaining from 168km

The water level in the Calaveras Reservoir might look low, but it's not only because of the extreme drought in California. The dam that creates the lake is due to be replaced, and because it couldn't really withstand a strong earthquake, the state restricts the level to 30 per cent of capacity.

.... and the breakaway has been caught. It's a fast false flat/descent that twists and turns here so the field was able to catch the leaders. It will be very fast until they hit the 680 freeway, then they'll have a short, sharp climb that could be the launching pad for the day's move.

We have six riders who have a slight advantage, but no identities just yet. They have about 20 seconds.

Today's 169.8km route headed over a couple sharp climbs at the start, but right now they're screaming along at 43mph. It will level off soon and climb to Livermore.

Once they head onto Mines Rd, it climbs and climbs, and then drops into the San Antonio Valley where they'll have to climb Mt. Hamilton. They'll crest that climb at the 48km to go mark, and then face a long, technical descent back to town. The descent is interrupted by another sharp climb, and then ascends most of the way to the finish, on the backside of the climb that was used in the 2013 time trial.
 

144km remaining from 168km

The speed was too fast for the breakaway, and once again we're all back together, 15 miles into the stage.

140km remaining from 168km

Another group has pinged off the front, this time it's five guys with a slight gap. Looks like Robin Carpenter is in the move again!

Roy Curvers (Team Giant-Alpecin), Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team), Travis Meyer (Drapac) and
Gregory Daniel (Axeon) have 20 seconds.

Cyclingnews spoke to Ben King this morning before the start. His team won today in the Giro d'Italia with Davide Formolo, and Ben got their first win of this season in the Criterium International.

"I think it’s a possibly a GC shake-up today," King said. "I think for the guys who want to win the overall they’re going to not want to lose time, but it’s also the opportunity for one of them to win the stage and to leave the race with something, maybe take the yellow jersey.

"At the same time, does Lotto want to take the jersey and control for the next two flat stages before the time trial?

"I wouldn’t see Etixx controlling the race today, and they’ve been such a prevalent force at the front that it may take a while for the break to go. Unless a team like Sky or Lotto comes to the front to control, you might see a lot of people trying to go in the breakaway, and that could possibly play in our favour. It worked in the Giro."

Good predictions, Ben.

The gap to this group of five is only 15 seconds now - not sure if this one will stick! They've got a strong tailwind heading to this unclassified little climb.

A group of three riders are trying to get across the gap, and we're hearing that the 15 seconds might be the gap to this chase group, the leaders are at 30 seconds.

Wondering if Optum's Michael Woods is in this group of chasers that has expanded to nine now.

We spoke to Woods this morning - he's quite a good climber and is looking to make a move today:

"I’m hoping for some action, for sure," Woods said. "The last two days were pretty hairy. I wish I had about 50 pounds on me, getting pushed around by all the big flat power guys just trying to hold position. So I think today I get to have a little bit of revenge on them. I’m looking forward to it."

When asked if he'd attack on Mt. Hamilton, he said, "We’ll see. It all depends on whose controlling things and who’s pushing the pace. Ideally it will be a fast one, because that plays right into my favour."

The gaps are still quite small, and with 14 riders somewhere in between seconds and half a minute ahead of the field, we suspect there will be more attacks, a shake-up of leaders until the composition is just right and then BOOM, breakaway gets four minutes.

These riders have caught the break, but the gap is only 10 seconds.

Campbell Flakemore (BMC Racing Team)
Jos van Emden (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)
Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
Gregory Obando Brenes (Jamis - Hagens Berman)
Oscar Clark (Hincapie Racing Team)
Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing Team)
Geoffrey Curran (Axeon Cycling Team)
Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop)

The race is now heading east toward Livermore along CA 84, past rolling hills of ranch land and windmills. They're also near wine country, with some of the oldest vineyards in California scattered nearby.

131km remaining from 168km

Meyer and Curvers have attacked the breakaway.

While I was in New Mexico, I learned that the first wine grapes from France in the USA were not planted in California - they came with the missionaries who wanted sacramental wines, and were planted in New Mexico. There is a lovely little winery in the Mimbres Valley near Silver City, where the Tour of the Gila is held. Cycling and wine always go hand in hand!

It looks like Meyer and Curvers were smart to attack the breakaway - they took advantage of a very fast downhill to get away, and the rest of the breakaway was caught.

Looks like we have a new breakaway of four - Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team) didn't get enough time off the front yesterday, and has joined Curvers and Meyer, together with Oscar Clark (Hincapie).

They're 5km to the one sprint in Livermore, which has no time bonus, just points.
 

The gap to the breakaway is still small, and more riders have joined, seems like seven now and still changing all the time.

122km remaining from 168km

1km to the sprint for our breakaway. Welcome Livermore! There are always nice crowds out in this town, even if it is a work day.

There were a number of riders who went down in the crash on stage 2, among them Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman), who was riding in his final Tour of California before retiring this year. He's started every single edition of the race, but crashed out with a dislocated shoulder, broken nose and teeth in a nasty fall in Lodi. We're really sad for Ben, he's one of the more pleasant riders to talk to and a great team captain.

We think that Huffman and Flakemore have made it across to the breakaway, which has more than a minute now. We'll get the sprint results and full composition soon - this might be the one!

There seems to be a little confusion over which Clark is in the break. There are three: Will Clarke (Drapac), Jonny Clarke (UHC) and Oscar Clark (Hincapie) to choose from. This seems unusual, but then we have Greg Daniel, Daniel Eaton, Daniel Summerhill, Daniel Oss, Daniele Bennati, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Daniele Ratto and Daniel Jaramillo... so if you're at the race, just yell "GO DAN".

Sprint 1:
1 Travis Meyer (Drapac)
2 Oscar Clark (Hincapie)
3 Evan Huffman (SmartStop)

The breakaway didn't contest the sprint, they were too busy building up their advantage on the field, who seem content to let them go. Oscar Clark, Curvers and Meyer are the best-placed at 20" from Cavendish.

114km remaining from 168km

5km to the KOM for our breakaway, which was as last check: Daniel Oss (BMC), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Travis Meyer (Drapac ), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Oscar Clark (Hincapie), Toms Skujin (Hincapie), Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop)

Well it looks like the winds are interfering with the Cyclingnews blimp, and we're having trouble getting information from the race.

It looks like there is only one Hincapie rider in the breakaway, and since he was second in the sprint, we'll go with Oscar Clark.

This makes the breakaway:
Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team)
Roy Curvers (Team Giant-Alpecin)
Travis Meyer (Drapac Professional Cycling)
Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
Oscar Clark (Hincapie Racing Team)
Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop)

Oss attacked for the KOM as the breakaway enjoyed a gap of 2:35.

The duplicate names continue with the Kings: Ted King spoke to Cyclingnews this morning about Mt Hamilton:

"I think it will eliminate some people, but it shouldn’t be super selective the way Baldy will have a larger way to dictate the race," King said

"We have a really good option in Joe Dombrowski. He’s climbing well. He’s riding well. So we'll keep him out of trouble. He’s going to be a GC threat throughout the week, so we’ll just keep him safe and up there and go from there.

"It could be interesting because the jersey’s on the shoulders of Cavendish, who in all likelihood won’t be there at the finish, but QuickStep is a super strong team, so they will respect the jersey and they still have GC hopes also. It throws it all up in the air quite a bit."
 

Well, we must put Skuijns in the break because he just took second in the KOM over Huffman and Meyer. Oss escaped to win the sprint.

Our breakaway again is: Daniel Oss (BMC), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Travis Meyer (Drapac), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Oscar Clark (Hincapie), Toms Skujin (Hincapie), and Evan Huffman (Team SmartStop).

With two Clark's in the break, we'll need to top that tomorrow. It should be an all-Daniel escape.

Mines Road is 45km of absolute isolation, with nothing but ranch land, ground squirrels and birds soaring above.

It's a popular place for motorcyclists to come and cruise on a weekend afternoon, and of course for the cyclists who want to go climb Mt. Hamilton. 

The riders will surely see a cow or two munching on grass as they cruise along with a nice tailwind. So far they haven't been given much of a lead, only 2:30, but that will change when they hit Mt. Hamilton.

Once upon a time, I went out with now-retired racer Roman Kilun and had him beat up on me on the way up Mt. Hamilton. You can read about it here. I may have gotten in the car at one point - just to get photos, mind you. There was no other reason.

There was another Clarke who took over the race lead at the Giro d'Italia: Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Clarke continued his team's hold on the maglia rosa.

Cannondale-Garmin got a big win today in the Giro d'Italia with newcomer Davide Formolo, who put on an impressive show.

Can the team carry that momentum into success here?

Last year, Lawson Craddock was the best young rider in the Tour of California, and finished third overall behind time trial stand-outs Bradley Wiggins and Rohan Dennis, neither of whom are here this hear.

Cyclingnews spoke to the Giant-Alpecin rider, who said today would be really tough: "I think almost 4,000 metres of climbing with only really one tough climb, but it’s going to be tough all day, always having to pay attention. You never know with the wind either, but we’re looking forward to it today."

Craddock of course has designs on the overall: "I want to be in the yellow jersey, but it’ll be a tough day. We have a strong team, and I really hope I can do something at the finish."

The Giant-Alpecin rider Roy Curvers is in the virtual GC lead, but his team has a few cards to play in addition to Craddock.

Carter Jones has had plenty of success here at Tour of California, including a mountains jersey, and told Cyclingnews this morning:

"Today’s a tricky one. It could go from a full-on GC day to a sprint. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s raced.

"I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been looking forward to today as kind of attest to see where things are at, maybe an indication of where I’ll be at Baldy."

The breakaway has over three minutes now as they enter Santa Clara County.

There's been a lot of comments on how young Davide Formolo, winner of today's stage in the Giro d'Italia looks. He's 22... but some think he looks much younger...

@willfoth Tue, 12th May 2015 20:54:50

Davide Formolo on the podium today.

This is what the road to Mt. Hamilton looks like without a bike race on it.

83km remaining from 168km

Many apologies for the lack of information. Our Cyclingnews blimp has been grounded because of the wind, so we're only getting spotty bits of info on what's going on. The breakaway is still holding 3:15 or so on the field at the halfway point.

Although the sprint rivalry between Etixx-Quickstep and Tinkoff-Saxo continues to simmer, we expect them to have a truce today.

However, Sagan is a massively talented bike handler, and if he can stay in shouting distance on Hamilton, he could easily either bridge a gap or get away on the technical descent. He goes downhill very fast.

While we wait on more info from San Jose, we can look at the Giro d'Italia, where Cannondale-Garmin won the stage but their GC contender, Ryder Hesjedal, suffered a massive loss of time. He was pretty bummed out after the stage.

There are a few nasty little pitches for the breakaway as Mines Road becomes San Antonio Valley Road, the route up to Mt. Hamilton.

The Tour of California has been this way several times, the first time coming from Modesto, from Del Puerto Canyon Road.

71km remaining from 168km

The leaders are now 5km to the KOM, another category 4 ascent. Their gap is currently hovering between 3:30 and 3:15.

The climb up Mt Hamilton is still a ways off, but we can look ahead to some serious action. The peloton will easily wipe out any advantage the breakaway might have at the start, when the road pitches almost immediately to 10%.

Tyler Wren holds the record up the climb at 29:07, sent in the 2011 Tour of California.

 

Daniel Oss has claimed another KOM, the second in a row. He's got one more cat 4 before the big HC climb up Hamilton.

KOM 2:
1 Daniel Oss (BMC)
2 Toms Skujins (Hincapie)
3 Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling )
4 Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin)

66km remaining from 168km

Sorry, scratch that!
KOM 2:
Daniel Oss (BMC)
Toms Skujins (Hincapie)
Evan Huffman (SmartStop)
Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin)

Obviously Howes isn't in the breakaway...

There's a short descent after the KOM, very twisty and tight with cattle guards dotting the road, making for a bumpy ride.

Shout out to Steve Baker for driving the media car in Tour of California - it's important to have good company on these long stages!

According to a popular social fitness application, the climb of Mt. Hamilton is 10km long and averages 7%, but it's quite tough at the base and the riders still have to get over the next category 4 ascent before they get to the base of it.

The gap back to the bunch has grown to 4:30, we'll go back for a peek and see if we can find out what's going on back there.

57km remaining from 168km

The breakaway has 1km to the next KOM, another Cat. 4, and Oss is looking to get this third in a row.

Although Oss is going for the small points, we're expecting that when the HC climb begins that Toms Skujinš, the Latvian from Hincapie, might make a move.

Skujinš won the overall Tour de Beauce last year with an impressive climbing performance on Lac-Mégantic, so he has the capabilities, even if he hasn't quite shown them this year so far.

55km remaining from 168km

KOM 3: Oss took the points over Skujins, with Clark and Huffman behind. They've got a tiny descent and then it's take a deep breath.... CLIMB!

The first part of Mt Hamilton's backside (as the locals call it) kicks up sharply and then levels off somewhat, the first couple miles are relatively easier to the last two-thirds which average 8.5%. Ouch.

The peloton let the gap out to 4:50, but that'll be wiped out as the bunch explodes up the mountain.

Curvers is the first to let go from the breakaway, but he's not alone in being dropped.

As we predicted (pats self on back) Skujins has attacked and left the breakaway behind him. The gap back to the field is out to five whole minutes.

Meanwhile, Jens Voigt, at the finish line, is predicting Peter Sagan to win the stage. Hmm....

Skujins is flying up this climb, now only 5k to the top - or halfway up.

Behind the peloton is starting up and has exploded, as predicted, into five or six groups.

51km remaining from 168km

Skujins has dropped his previous companions like dead weight, and is now more than a minute up as he continues onto the more difficult pitches of this climb.

Oss is still persisting in the chase, but he's not keeping anyone with him for help.

Our most courageous rider and cancer survivor Markel Irizar (Trek) was interviewed by Cyclingnews' Ted Burns before the stage. You can see the video here.

50km remaining from 168km

Skujins is looking steady and keeping up a brisk tempo on the climb, now 50km away from the finish. Can he hold it? He has 1:40 on Oss, with the rest of the chasers losing ground quickly.

Back in the field, Etixx has yielded to Team Sky, whose climber Sergio Henao is looking on fine form. He and Peter Kennaugh are tapping out the pace in the front peloton.

The peloton have the remnants of the breakaway in their sights, with Oss, Clarke and Huffman still ahead. That leaves Clark (Hincapie) and Curvers to be absorbed.

Meyer is behind as well. He was having tummy problems earlier in the stage.

Our media car has pushed on ahead as Skujins continues to tackle this climb, he's running away from a fan dressed as Wonder Woman. surely that gave him some motivation to get away!

Back in the field, Robert Gesink is still well positioned. He's the only former overall winner in the race this year.

There are also several Trek riders prominently placed behind Sky, and Cannondale-Garmin back there. BMC are sitting in the wings.

Oss, Clarke and Hufffman are looking decidedly less spry than Skujins, who is getting some splendid views of the valley below off to his left.

 

Skujins takes a bottle from the Hincapie car, maybe for ballast on the way down?

47km remaining from 168km

The climb flattens out a little for Skujins, and he gets into the drops and powers on, keen to take advantage of his status as a relatively unknown rider. He's through the KOM line, and onto the descent.

The descent is not very steep, but it's full of twists and turns, and rocky embankments. Trek's Matthew Busche will know that first left hander well - he went offroading there a few years back in this race.

Chase 1 is through the line at 1:35 from Skujins, with the big BMC rider leading the way.

The peloton is on the flat part of the climb now, surely closer than the 4:00 the time board is showing.

It's a much reduced peloton, about 30-40 riders only, and they're crossing the top.

Huffman has lost ground on the descent, he doesn't seem to be enjoying the bends as much as Oss and Clarke.

To be fair, it's a scary descent, even for a pro. The bends are irregular and sometimes tighten up mid-bend. Skujins must have scouted it out, because he's not having any trouble - he's even gained five seconds on Oss,a notable descender.

It's perhaps more terrifying to be in the cars following the riders down the mountain, as bikes can go around the bends much faster. You've got to stay ahead of the people chasing behind, and that's no mean feat.

Oss and Clarke are opening up gaps to the camera moto in each bend, flying down the descent. They can probably feel the heat of Silicon Vally rising up as they get closer to the bottom.

Skujins is simply magnificent on this descent. He's broadened his gap to 2:00 now.

Whoops, Skujins got caught out by one of those bends that looks easier than it is and he nearly goes off road and has to jam on the brakes.

That little gaff may throw off his confidence somewhat, allowing Oss and Clarke to narrow the gap.

Skujins is off the worst part of the descent, and is now away from the scary steep drop offs and on land with a bit more run-out room if he makes another goof.

He's having to put more effort on the pedals, getting into an extreme aero tuck... he's still holding 2:00 over Oss and Clarke.

A small climb interrupts the plunge off Mt Hamilton, giving the Hincapie director Thomas Craven a chance to pull alongside and offer some encouragement.

Similarly, the BMC car comes alongside Daniel Oss to give him some motivation. Oss lost Clarke, who ran off road in the exact same spot that Skujins did.

We think Clarke managed to stop JUST before he went down the embankment to the other side of the switchback.

He did, Oss waited for the Australian, and now the two chasers are looking a bit less feisty than Skujins as they head up that small hill.

Up ahead, Skujins is still taking massive risks on the descent, clearly not spooked by his incident.

The riders often will use the lead motorcycle as a guide to how the bends will act, but the bike ahead of Skujins is a bit far up and he's still not perfectly predicting how the turns tighten up. But he's still keeping Oss and Clarke well at bay. Clarke is taking the turns much more delicately now.

We're learning that Skujins is pronounced: SQUEENJS.

Skujins is going flat out, taking frequent looks at his bottom bracket - or stretching his neck - or just generally suffering and wanting this to all be over. But he's committed now - he'll soon run up against the Quimby Road KOM, a cat. 2 climb. There it is! 

It really hurts going from a high tempo descent to a steep climb like this, and the Hincapie car is there to keep him excited.

Back in the bunch, it seems like another group has joined in on the descent and the Sky-led peloton has almost doubled in size.

On the Quimby Road climb, Skujins has smoothed out his style and is looking strong. He'll get the Cat 2 points to pull closer to Oss in the mountains classification. One or the other will wear polka dots tonight.

Skujins started the day at 42 seconds after being caught out behind the crash yesterday. Right now he's in virtual yellow as the bunch is 4:00 back still.

Sagan is riding back up through the team cars after being dropped on the climb, but Quimby Road might keep him from staying in the main peloton.

While the official race tracker has Cavendish in the main peloton, we wonder if that might not be accurate. Sagan stops by the Tinkoff car for a bottle as he works his way up.

29km remaining from 168km

Oscar Clark has dropped behind Sagan, going out the back door of the race after his day-long breakaway.

Uh oh! Skujins crashed on the descent and had to get back on the bike and start down again. He overcooked a right hander and luckily hit some hay bales.

The hay bales unfortunately made him fall over onto the road as they hit his shoe and brought him to a sudden halt. He's OK and back up and pursuing a stage win.

Oss leads Clarke over the top for the category 2 climb.

Back on Mt Hamilton, the KOM was
Skujins, Oss, Huffman, Clarke, Clark, Geoghegan hart, woods, Boswell, Kennaugh and Henao.

Sagan tacked back onto the main peloton, which is at 4:30, while Oss and Clarke aren't very far ahead of the bunch. Skujins' dare-devil descending has given him a 3:10 lead over Oss, and Clarke has locked it up once again. He's done with the descent and needs some herbal tea, maybe chamomile, to relax.

Even Oss isn't enjoying the descent, he came to a near standstill on the place where Skujins hit the hay.

Opp and Huffman is also done, having come to grief on a bend. He needs a new wheel. He wasn't enjoying the descent and now this will really shatter his nerves. This is one tricky finish to the stage.

22km remaining from 168km

Skujins' troubles are now over, it's nothing but wide open roads now as he hammers toward the final climb with 22km to go.

The peloton isn't very interested in catching Skujins, or they aren't getting accurate gaps. 4:40 to the field and now 2:35 to Oss who has left Clarke to his own devices. Clarke missed a right turn and went straight to a small driveway instead, so he had to stop and get back on course.

KOM 4: Skujins, Oss, Clarke, Zandio and Henao.

The peloton might not be too happy to let Skujins get this much time - they'll need to pull back a couple minutes on the last climb.

Skujins isn't a terrible time trialist, he was only 34 seconds behind Tom Zirbel in the Big Bear time trial in the Redlands Classic earlier this year.

The peloton still 4:10 behind Skujins, the 23-year-old who made his name at Tour de Beauce last year.

He has 2:35 on Oss now, 3:00 on Clarke, 4:00 on the bunch and it will be a real drag race on that flnal climb. It's not nearly as nasty as the side used in the TT in 2013.

Cavendish and Sagan are still in the main bunch, and Sky are just HAMMERING along on the wide streets of Evergreen. They're getting help from Tinkoff's Jesus Hernandez, but after yesterday, trying to match Van Keirsbulck, the Spaniard isn't able to do much.

LottoNl-Jumbo are up front too for Gesink. It would be great to see the Dutch rider overcome his two years of troubles and get a victory in San Jose, where he first won here over Levi Leipheimer in 2008.

Gesink won the overall here in 2012, but has since suffered the death of his father, issues with his heart that required surgery, and health problems for his son.

13km remaining from 168km

Only 13k to go for Skujins, and he's still got 3:50, but it's been a long day in the breakaway... can he hold off the WorldTour riders?

Guys like Henao can wipe out minutes even on a category 4 climb. It's a gentle uphill before a short descent, and then a short kicker to the finish line.

We can easily spot Peter Kennaugh, the British champion, sitting in behind his Sky train. He's another rider to watch in a finish like this.

10km remaining from 168km

Skujins is starting to show a little wear and tear. His pedal stroke isn't as fluid and he's weaving a little more than he was on the previous two climbs. He's going up the shallow climb that precedes the final ascent. Only 10km to go, and he's got more than three minutes. He's got to win this one.

Oss has been caught by the bunch, and we're starting to wonder how accurate the gaps have been.

LottoNl-Jumbo are now joined by Tinkoff-Saxo in chasing, and it seems by the terrain they're on that Skujins really might have gap of minutes. GPS says 3:15.

Kennaugh attacks!

Nope, he sat right up by Craddock counters!

They didn't do much, and now Kennaugh just sets pace, perhaps trying to put the sprinters in trouble. Sagan and Cavendish aren't giving up yet.

Sagan comes to the front to show he's still here. Skujins up ahead is still flying along and if they keep monkeying around behind, the Hincapie rider will win the stage.

Phil Deignan is now pulling at a steady rate, but not making much of a dent. The gap to the Latvian is now 2:55.

If Cavendish is in this group, he's not showing himself like Sagan is. The Slovakian champ is just behind the Sky train.

Kennaugh's attack was almost a "if you're not going to help, we're going to leave you behind" message to the other teams in this group. There's been a lot of pointing fingers in the race this year.

4km remaining from 168km

4km to go for Skujins, and Sky isn't going to catch him - no way. Cavendish is not in the chasing group, so Sagan would get an armchair ride into the race lead if Sky pulled Skujins back, and they're not going to gift him that.

Skujins will get yellow tonight and win the stage if he holds on. That'll be a first for the Hincapie team!

Tinkoff-Saxo had a couple guys helping with the chase, but perhaps they weren't doing enough. They lost one rider today with the abandon of Kolas.

Kolar, sorry.

The climb isn't very steep, and Skujins (copy-paste) is able to get in the drops and keep hammering.

Sky continue to pull up the climb, and the gap is now just over two minutes.

Kennaugh looks at Sagan as if to say, if you sit on our train, you best not sprint.

Skujins is massively impressive, and doesn't seem to be slowing down. Daredevil descending, two near crashes, one actual fall and he's still going to get this win. Pretty incredible!

Sky only has to reduce the gap to 42 seconds ore less to put Sagan into the yellow jersey. Kennaugh attacks!

It's Laurent Didier (Trek) who is attacking, actually, He got right on the TV moto.

1km remaining from 168km

1km to go and Skujins has hit a nasty steep pitch and ow ow ow ow ow.

It's going to be touch and go if Skujins gets in the race lead, as the chasers are much punchier than he is right now.

0km remaining from 168km

Didier was caught, Skujins sees 500m to go and it's still a severe climb.

Skujins is finding something more - he can see the finish banner ahead. Behind Optum appear like magic.

Look for Woods to make a move on the climb.

Skujins has it! He gets the stage win. But how much time?

500m to go for the field, and another attack from Hincapie, It looks like Skujins will get the yellow jersey! Chapeau!

Jaramillo attacks, and Sagan goes after him.

Sagan comes past and takes second with an Etixx rider in third.

Massive, massive ride from Skujins. It will be party time in the Hincapie RV tonight.

 

Sagan might not get the yellow jersey, but he still has a chance to wear the green jersey all week.

Skujins leads the mountains classification too, but Oss will wear the jersey tomorrow.

Skujins isn't a young rider, technically, anymore. It might be Alaphilippe who takes the lead in the white jersey competition - he was third on the stage.

Thanks y'all for reading! I'll leave you with the top 10s for today.

1 Toms Skujin_ (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team 04:33:10
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:01:06
3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:06
4 Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (Col) Jamis - Hagens Berman 00:01:06
5 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team 00:01:09
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:01:09
7 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky 00:01:09
8 Michael Woods (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 00:01:09
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:01:09
10 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 00:01:09

General classification after stage 3
1 Toms Skujin_ (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team 14:04:01
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:32
3 Rob Britton (Can) Team SmartStop 00:00:43
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:00:44
5 Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (Col) Jamis - Hagens Berman 00:00:44
6 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team 00:00:47
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:47
8 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:47
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:47
10 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 00:00:47

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