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Tour of California 2015: Stage 5


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour of California, a short, lumpy 154km dash from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita. It should be a day for the sprinters.

There are four categorized climbs on the course today, three cat 4's at km. 27.5, 31.9 and 90.4, with a category 3 ascent at km. 54.4. There are two sprints at km. 51.4 and 78.1.

Riders are off for 3.7km of neutral in Santa Barbara.

The precipitation meant that the time trial, to be held 2100m up at Big Bear Lake, had to be moved down to Santa Clarita because several inches of snow are predicted in the mountains. The change from an altitude to a sea level time trial should make life easier for those riders who weren't able to acclimate to altitude before the race.

Regarding the time trial course for tomorrow, we suspect they'll use the same finish and head back and in on today's course, using the same infrastructure that is already in place, but there have been no details yet made public.

156km remaining from 157km

Immediately, there is action at the front, as expected. Everyone wants to get away, but look for Daniel Oss to go up the road in search of mountain points. 

The route heads out by winding up a hill through a residential area, lost of ritzy gated homes along the route.

So far no attacks have been able to stick.

Three riders have decided to take advantage of the hilly start to try and get a gap.

150km remaining from 157km

Looks like Wyss is BMC's representative in the front today - taking over from Oss. Yesterday Oss had both the most courageous and mountains jerseys to wear, so he gave the most courageous to Wyss to wear.

The big news out of the Giro d'Italia today was the crash of Alberto Contador. We have the latest on his condition - a dislocated shoulder - and quotes from him here.

It seems that someone wasn't happy with the presence of Wyss, only 47 seconds down on GC, in the move. There's a vicious chase behind bringing them back.

It is not an easy route out of town toward Carpinteria, and the peloton is keeping the leaders to 20 seconds. There will be a descent coming and that will help the chase.

Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) had to stop for a wheel, and the leaders have a 35 second advantage now.

Well, it looks like someone has decided to take a gamble that Wyss will be brought back for the sprint today, and the gap has blown out to 1:30.

The peloton has given the international signal for letting the breakaway go - the mass nature break. The gap will shoot up now.

BMC's strategy might be for the mountains jersey: none of the riders in the break have any KOM points. There are 18 on offer today. Oss leads by one point over the race leader Toms Skujins (Hincapie), with a total of 33 points.

140km remaining from 157km

It's great to see Novo Nordisk involved in the break today. They've been shut out of them so far. The team of all Type 1 diabetics are a young team, fighting their disease in addition to trying to succeed as professional athletes.

137km remaining from 157km

Maybe we're good guessers, maybe we're smart, but we also spoke to Lachlan Morton before the stage today, and he said he wanted to be in the move today.

The breakaway are starting their gradual ascent toward the first category 4 climb on CA 150, it kicks up a bit steeper toward the top.

The Hincapie leader of Toms Skujins is having to control the race again today. These young riders are surely getting a good workout.

The leaders are on the first KOM, about 1km to go, with a 3:10 advantage. 

130km remaining from 157km

The leaders are through the KOM - results to follow shortly.

It was the year after Levi Leipheimer was held up by a massive crash outside the 3km to go mark in his home town of Santa Rosa. The judges ruled that because the crash was so big and blocked the entire road, that they would neutralize the stage for GC and keep him in the yellow jersey.

129km remaining from 157km

And now, they head straight back up for the second KOM of the day.

Certainly Skujins isn't wasting his time going after points, and the next riders in the mountains classification, Evan Huffman and Jonny Clarke, have 13 points only. Even if they got in the break on Saturday they'd have to stay with the leaders on Baldy and get in the points to take over - it's 8, 8 and 12 at the finish. Win-win for BMC.

In case you missed it, there was a nasty crash in the Giro d'Italia today that took down Alberto Contador. It was caused by a specator with a long-lens camera sticking it out into the path of Nippo's Daniele Colli.

124km remaining from 157km

Colli sent out a message to his fans, reassuring them that he is OK: "I remember being struck by something while I was in full sprint, and then I was on the ground with my arm turned upside down. I was really scared because I couldn't feel my arm."

Let that be a lesson to all cycling fans, even those who consider themselves seasoned spectators! GIVE THE RIDERS ROOM. They aren't looking at you or anticipating what you might do, they're busy with the very engrossing task of racing their bikes.

119km remaining from 157km

The rain seems to be holding off for the race today - there are some scattered light showers to the north, but the real precipitation is off to the southwest and down in LA - and up in Big Bear Lake, of course.

The moisture seems to be helping the hillsides here in Ventura county, where the hills are a bit greener than what we saw up near Avila Beach yesterday.

The flora must be sucking the moisture from the clouds that are hanging low over the gently rolling hills.

111km remaining from 157km

106km remaining from 157km

Wyss didn't put up a fight for the sprint, and it was taken by Howes. Right after the sprint they hit 5km to the next KOM.


We're hearing there might be some rain on the climb up ahead. It's not terribly heavy - shouldn't cause too much grief for the riders.

The details on tomorrow's time trial are up now - because we're multitasking - with a map and profile. Both men and women will use the same 10.6km course.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews, we asked riders at the start what they thought about the change to the TT, how it would impact the race, and whether this move by the race organization signals a softening of attitudes toward their safety.

The breakaway's lead is diminishing on this category 3 ascent. 1km to the KOM and dropping, now 2:15 for the leaders.

100km remaining from 157km

The descent is not much to speak of, the respite is very brief, and then the leaders face a false-flat/climb for another 6km or so.

96km remaining from 157km

Back in the field, the rain jacket distribution has begun, as the rain is coming from behind the race. There's some more steady rain sweeping up from the southwest, but the really heavy stuff seems to be staying back in LA.

Back in the bunch, Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) has to get a puncture fixed. They're descending on wet roads - nothing too gnarly, but it's 16km of downhill to the next sprint.

Looks like we spoke a little too soon about the hard rain staying in LA. The leaders are getting a heavy rainfall now and the temperature has gone down to 56F. Brr.

Luckily it was just a brief shower - the rain would make for  miserable TV pictures. The leaders want to be able to display their sponsor names and not have them obscured by rain gear.

87km remaining from 157km

84km remaining from 157km

Cyclingnews spoke to Phil Deignan (Sky) today about his role in the team, which is to keep an eye on the early breakaways and help the guys at the end of the stage.

The leaders have eschewed the rain jackets and made it down safely to the sprint, where Wyss went across first.

The peloton are taking the turns gingerly, the Etixx team now helping out at the front with Hincapie and Tinkoff. Drapac are up front too, and they'll be hoping to get Wippert a win today. He was so close yesterday but just not powerful enough on the uphill finish to top Sagan. Today's finish should suit him perfectly.

It looks like the roads are wet but it's not raining terribly hard on the race right now as they head back into the hills with a sharp, painful climb up Balcom Canyon ahead. It's not a big climb, but it's going to sting. That comes in about 8km.

The race looks a lot like the last year it took place in February and the miserable cold rains punished riders from NorCal all the way down the coast. Riders still are using the same dull grey rain jackets.

There's an issue for Toms Skujins, who came to the front to let people know he needed to stop. Maybe it was a nature break or maybe a flat - but he signalled he needed them to not be jerks and attack him. Very poor form to try and flick the race leader, especially when his team's been working hard for two days.

67km remaining from 157km

The leaders are on the final KOM of the day, with Megias and Morton pulling off to let Wyss come through.

They're keeping a steady tempo in the break, no sense of urgency yet. They're pretty much resigned to being caught somewhere along CA-26 on the way into Santa Clarita.

The rain is gone now as the breakaway take on the Balcom Canyon road climb.

Word is there's been a crash in the field, but no further information. Most of the peloton looked to be present.

Back in the field a Smartstop rider - Chris Butler - has gone on the attack.

The field isn't responding to Butler. In the break, they're still going up up up - Morton is in the lead now with Curran, Howes behind. 

Plenty of fans on the climb, which seems to go on forever for a cat 4 climb. They can see the banner in the distance.

63km remaining from 157km

Butler is making up ground on the breakaway, and just about to the top of the climb. So far no response from the field.

Skujins, Sagan and Cavendish are all moving to the front for the descent, as is Robert Gesink.

60km remaining from 157km

Butler is now 1:35 behind the leaders, with the peloton at 2:10. He's mashing an enormous gear.

Megias seems to be coming unhinged from the breakaway, possibly didn't enjoy the descent or went to the team car. He's back on.

Butler is doing a one-against-five time trial and it's not quite working out for him. A moto comes by and he looks back to see if that's the peloton, but it's not. They're about 45 seconds behind him.

55km remaining from 157km

The approach to Santa Clarita is wide open, no shelter from the wind at all. If the wind turns into more cross- than tail-wind, there could be a team trying to shatter the bunch into echelons.

Butlier is losing ground on the peloton, led by Hincapie and going through more light showers. They can see him up the road as he heads up one of the unclassified climbs.

I have to correct a mistake I made earlier, Skujins leads the mountains classification with 33 points, one ahead of Oss, with 32.

52km remaining from 157km

Morton has his arms draped over the bars, head down, as if in prayer - praying for the pain to end? Praying for the rain to stop? He got that wish.

49km remaining from 157km

Wyss is sporting a perfect 5 O'Clock shadow, the kind so popular in the peloton these days. Few are sporting the full on beards like Luca Paolini and Simon Geschke, but the perfectly trimmed stubble is popular. There has to be some kind of implement they use to keep it that way. 

Well well! Butler defied the time gaps and used that hill to bridge up to the breakaway.

 Butler has made it past the team cars, which are being held back, and is now pursuing the neutral support and race official cars. Just 50m to go.

47km remaining from 157km

Now that Butler is here, Howes goes to the Cannondale car for some food and a chat.

We doubt that Butler would have been sent up the road bike director Mike Creed without a good reason. Maybe it's just a sponsor show, but Creed sends people ahead to scout conditions, so we wonder if there's going to be an echelon throw-down in the crosswinds on CA-126?

These directors don't operate in a vacuum, they talk to each other and while some plans are kept secret, there are often handshake deals made at the start or along the way.

Skujins is showing the race leader's jersey front and center of the bunch, as if to say "I'm ready for anything. Bring it".

The breakaway are now going down the long, damp descent - Morton looks considerably more comfortable on it than Butler or Megias.

The peloton are taking the descent delicately, with Etixx coming to the fore.

Sorry, Butler's crash was in 2011. Morton, Howes and Wyss have a gap on Butler and Megias, but they should get back on.

Morton is just behind the front three, with Butler and Megias chasing - Curran looks back to check on their status. They'll need all six if they want to have a hope in the world of staying clear.

Etixx has now lined the peloton out, washing the Trek riders away. They're enjoying a small draft off the TV moto.

39km remaining from 157km

The breakaway has now made the turn toward Santa Clarita, they've got a long straight road through orchards and the pace is picking up. The bunch are single file behind. Things are about to heat up.

It's still spitting rain as the three dropped riders in the breakaway are now chasing together at 35 seconds, with the peloton at 2:00.

Tinkoff-Saxo has sent a token rider to the front of the field, finally. It's Hernandez again, looking to hone that Tour de France form.

33km remaining from 157km

The leaders are passing what appears to be a prickly pear farm, or just a line of them along the road. Let's hope nobody crashes into those spiny cacti.

The Hincapie team are having to go back to the front to chase, as Wyss continues to threaten Skujins' yellow jersey.

What has Jens Voigt gotten up to since he retired? You can see our video interview with him here.

It's almost sunny for the ridrs now, as Megias and Morton are swept up by the peloton

29km remaining from 157km

The peloton are making a hard left turn as they begin the short weave between Gulberson Road and CA-126. Once they get on the wide open highway we expect the gaps to fall quickly.

The time board motorcycle almost gets pushed off the road as the peloton takes another right hand turn - they wont' like what they saw - gap is still 2:10.

They're on CA-126 now with 25.3km to go for the breakaway, and while it's not completely flat, they'll be helped along by a tailwind. The peloton are chasing in earnest now.

25km remaining from 157km

21km remaining from 157km

Sagan's points jersey is looking less than fresh as he hasn't taken a rain jacket. It's really coming down buckets now, and the gap to the leaders stands at 1:50.

20km remaining from 157km

Curran's neon Cipollini bike is a real stand-out in the heavy rain. The three are working well together, Howes seems happy to do much of the work, maybe just to get the stage over with.

We all know that Sagan is a great bike handler, and is good in the wet - his first win of this year (and his only one until yesterday) - came in a rainy stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

16km remaining from 157km

14km remaining from 157km

12km remaining from 157km

Wyss is still our virtual race leader, and he's keeping the breakaway rolling along. The break have to have a tailwind. They're holding the gap at one minute.

Team Sky are now pushing ahead, a Hincapie rider still hammering, that looks like Carpenter's style. He's narrowed the gap to 50 seconds.

10km remaining from 157km

Curran is riding like a WorldTour rider, but he's just 19, the youngest in the race.

8km remaining from 157km

The race is barely visible in the overhead shots, as the rain is coming down hard on the final kilometers of this race.

7km remaining from 157km

Drapac, Etixx and Tinkoff are controlling the race, but Trek are starting to form on the outside. No sign of MTN-Qhubeka, their train is without an engine perhaps.


Looks like UHC, Optum, Drapac, Smartstop all on the deck. It was on the left side, mid-pack.

5km remaining from 157km

Wyss is now solo and Howes and Curran are being caught by the motorcycles leading the peloton. 15" only with 5km to go. Touch and go!

It's a slight rise for Wyss and Howes is gone but Curran continues to chase, the peloton hot on his heels.

Howes is caught, 4.6km to go.

4km remaining from 157km

Sweeting has dropped out after the crash.

The peloton have four lanes of road to work with and are spread out. A fan is on a bike path trying to keep up

3km remaining from 157km

The reduced peloton are swarming, Trek, Tinkoff, Novo Nordisk, UHC and Etixx at the front. Oh lo! There is MTN-Qhubeka on the right. Giant Alpecin in the middle. No sign of Hincapie, we hope Skujins is in there.

Lotto Nl at the front with 2km to go.

Prettu sure Skujins is mid-pack, but not confirmed. Tinkoff has control now as Drapac can't get the wheels.

One more turn...

1km remaining from 157km

The Drapac team has the front in the last turn. Drag race time!

Sagan hiding behind the red jersey, with Sagan on his wheel. There goes Wippert

Cavendish goes off the wheel of a Giant rider and Sagan tries to get on terms.

There's no chance. Cavendish gets stage win number three!

Cavendish thanks his teammates, including best young rider Alaphilippe.

Cavendish is so good at hiding on the wheels - he only hit the wind for 200m, and the only 200m that counted.

Zico Waeytens was the Giant rider in second, with Sagan, Drucker and Van Poppel behind.

Skujins was definitely in that bunch, and so keeps the race lead.

Stage results
1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
4 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
5 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
6 Guillaume Boivin (Can) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
7 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
8 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka
9 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
10 Justin Oien (USA) Axeon Cycling

Sagan keeps second overall behind Skujins, but if the flash results are accurate, Rob Britton has lost ground. The crash happened outside the 3km to go mark.

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