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Tour of California 2015: Stage 6

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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 6 of the Tour of California, the individual time trial now in Santa Clarita after Big Bear Lake was snowed out.

Welcome to Cyclingnews' TT coverage, the weather cleared up for the Santa Clarita revised stage

Congratulations to Evelyn Stevens, who won the women's individual time trial just now, topping Lauren Stephens, with Kristin Armstrong a close third.

You can find the full results of the women's ITT here.

So far we've had the first batch of riders head out for the 10.6km revised course that heads out and back from the Magic Mountain Six Flags theme park.

Sky's Nathan Earle is heading down the ramp.

The women's race was won in just over 14 minutes. We expect the men to go a bit quicker.

Robert Gesink (LottoNl-Jumbo) is sitting fourth overall in the GC before today's stage.

Cyclingnews caught up with him to find out what he thinks of the new ITT course:

"It is a pretty good performance to have a second course ready this soon and this fast. Most of it is up and down and long straight, a bit of bumpy road but I tried it a few times to know the best place to ride it,

"it is pretty difficult in the final. You go up and down and you are all already pretty tired of course then you have to go up this part where it is in the saddle, out of the saddle. And it's a bridge over the highway, it's full gas then. It will be pretty painful."

Will Clarke is the fastest so far - the Drapac rider came in with a 13:24.

Tom Zirbel (Optum) has to be one of the favorites for today's stage, even if it's less than half the expected distance.

"I got through the first five stages in pretty good shape, although I was caught up in that crash on stage 2," Zirbel told Cyclingnews this morning.

Of today's stage he said, "it's not quite as conducive for me as Big Bear was, but it being so short and flat it puts strong sprinters in the mix as well, it's nearly prologue length so you have to contend with those guys as well."

Zirbel also predicts, "a lot of strong sprinters and lead out guys that could have a good run at this course if they put their mind to it".

Clarke is still the fastest with 9 riders through the course.

Sprinter Eric Young is off on course.

So it looks like the predicted snowpocalypse in Big Bear Lake was less threatening than it was supposed to be. There's little or no snow on the roads but it's just barely above freezing and there's still a chance of snow.

It's a much nicer 62F and dry in Santa Clarita.

The riders mostly appreciated the organizers caring for their safety, and were pleased they were able to make a switch to Magic Mountain on such short notice. You can read all of the reactions here.

Tom Zirbel is now on course, we expect he will challenge Clarke's time. His teammate Jesse Anthony is second fastest, and will have provided splits for Zirbel to meter his effort.

If you're wondering why the live time of day is being measured in Anchorage time, it's because of our silly server, which doesn't adjust to daylight saving time for some reason. So we have to fudge it until the bug can be fixed.

So far Zirbel's prediction about lead-out men or sprinters going for it today hasn't played out - Graeme Brown is almost a minute down, Stijn Vandenbergh at 21 seconds and Gerald Ciolek is at 1:25, one of the slower times.

Jos Van Emden (LottoNl-Jumbo) just beat Will Clarke's time, coming in at 12:46, but Zirbel should be coming along shortly.

Van Emden is one of the top time trialists in the Netherlands, and a career Rabobank/Belkin/Blanco/Jumbo rider.

MTN-Qhubeka's Johann Van Zyl is second at 18 seconds now - they're averaging well over 30mph!

Jordan Kerby came through third fastest, 13:05 for the Drapac rider.

Ooooh! And Zirbel falls short! 12:57 for the Optum rider. That's gotta sting.

It's fairly breezy down in Santa Clarita, and while it was dry it seems the clouds are rolling in now and drops of rain are here and there.

Should it start to rain, that would give a big advantage to the early starters.

Peter Sagan has to be doing a rain dance - he loves nothing more than hurtling around corners in the wet. There are a few of them on the course today - they have an immediate u-turn, then go around one side of the parking lot, hard left out onto the frontage road, then have a left-U-turn-right-turn combination at the turnaround, and back around a few bends to the finish line.

U23 ITT world champion Campbell Flakemore (BMC) is sixth at 31 seconds from Van Emden. Cannondale-Garmin's Lasse Norman Hansen went one second better.

Van Emden may be leading, but that doesn't mean he was happy with his ride today:

"It's not an easy course, it's pretty hard. I couldn't find a good rhythm. I'm not too sure the time will hold up for long because I didn't have the best feeling out there," he said.

Most of the riders in the early block are out on their regular road machines, some without any aero bars at all. They're not worried about where they place, they're domestiques and only need to make the time cut.

Yves Lampaert (Etixx-Quickstep) slots into 8th place with a 13:21.

Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo) just slotted in to 10th at 13:25. Travis Meyer just misses the top 10, 45 seconds slower than Van Emden.

Mark Renshaw (Etixx - Quick-Step) is one of the riders on course without any aero bike, no disc wheel or special helmet, but he does have some TT bars clipped on his road bike.

Van Emden on the hot seat in California. http://t.co/EUr0qsp8mS

@Cyclingnewsfeed Fri, 15th May 2015 22:09:48

Out on course Koen De Kort (Giant-Alpecin) is setting good times, he's caught his minute man.

So far the rain is holding off after just a few drops. Dry roads for all - Sep Vanmarcke comes through for 5th at 24" from his teammate.

Renshaw is coming into the finish, following the line of palm trees and orange barricades. He's a distant 44th.

Zico Waetens (Giant-Alpecin) second on yesterday's stage, goes out without any aero gear. He's followed by triple stage winner Mark Cavendish, who's on his TT bike with disc wheel and aero helmet. He's going for it today!

Mark Cavendish may be a sprinter, but he's no slouch when it comes to short time trials. He's been a part of his team's winning TTT squad, and he's been up there in short ITTs.

5th in the 12.1k Tour of Denmark stage a few years ago, 8th in another year there. He'll go flat out when there's a good reason.

If he won today, it would be his first UCI ITT win.

Meanwhile, Jos Van Emden is looking relaxed in that hot seat. He's got another hour and change to wait to see if he gets the stage win.

Van Emden was Dutch time trial champion in 2010, so it's no surprise he's in the lead.

Koen De Kort might have caught another rider, but he's only 22nd.

Danny van Poppel (Trek) comes through in 9th overall.

Behind Cavendish on course is Smartstop's Evan Huffman. He's a very good ITT rider and was quite strong at Tour of the Gila, and faded in the second half. So this short course should suit him.

BMC's Jempy Drucker just slotted into 10th place, knocking Lampaert out of the list.

Cavendish has passed Waeytens as he heads back into Magic Mountain, not surprising since the Giant rider didn't have any aero gear.

Cavendish is screaming into the finish, hurtling around the turns at top speed, staying aero to the line. 7th for the Manxman.

Here comes Huffman, his time is good enough for 13th, 13:23.

Hincapie's Robin Carpenter has certainly getting a massive race block in, going on the attack early in the race, then working hard to protect teammate Toms Skujins' race lead for the past two days.

Still, he's kitted out in full aero gear.

Daniele Bennatti is coming in hot to the finish, having passed his minute man. 2nd! 12:53 - great time for the Italian from Tinkoff-Saxo.

Markel Irizar (Trek) came through fourth fastest, a very good time for the Basque climber.

 

Carpenter comes in for 7th! Nice ride from the Hincapie rider.

Oss is off looking like one of those Disneyland measles victims, all covered in red spots.

Our race leader Toms Skujins still has 45 minutes before his start. He'll be warming up on the trainer getting ready to defend the 18 second lead he has on Peter Sagan.

I'm going to put my money on Julian Alaphilippe to be in the yellow jersey after today: the Etixx man was second in the Tour de l'Ain ITT and 14th in the Dauphiné time trial last year a 10.4km effort so very similar to today's. That was 14 seconds behind Chris Froome, so quite a quality rider.

John Murphy (UHC) just came in with a great time - 13:11, knocking Cavendish out of the top 10.

Jos Van Emden is making himself comfortable in the hot seat, having a cup of tea (we aren't joking) as he waits out the rest of the racers. He's still got another 50 minutes or so to wait.

Ruben Zepunkte (Cannondale-Garmin) nudges Teklehaimanot out of the top 10 with a 13:11.

Henao is warming up with cotton batting sticking out of his nose. It looks really silly, but they soak the cotton in eucalyptus and it helps keep the sinuses open for optimal breathing.

Here comes Oss - he's done a great ride for 4th at 13 seconds! Spots are strong.

Van Emden is liking his chances more now that the wind has picked up some. "Lots of times weather has worked against me, maybe it will be in my favor this time. All I can do is wait."

Here comes Laurens ten Dam - he's looking quick as he heads around the last few bends...

But looks are deceving, he's a distant 42nd almost a minute slower than his teammate.

Rob Britton is coming up for his turn on the course.

Cyclingnews spoke to the Smartstop rider this morning: "I think that Big Bear would have suited me much better. But his time trial isn't as bad as it could have been. It still is a pretty hard ride to the end when you are pretty loaded up. It will still hurt me a bit. I feel pretty good given we are six days into a bike race so I'm still keen."

Britton put in a brilliant time trial at the Tour of the Gila, and won the overall in the mountains so he's still a contender even at 53 seconds from Skujins.

Robert Gesink is on the trainer getting ready for his effort. He just needs to keep the gaps small today and tomorrow, Mt. Baldy will be his big day. It could be the mark of his comeback from two years of woe.

Gesink's whole family is here at Magic Mountain to support him.

Sergio Henao (Sky) is out on course, he's also kitted out in full aero gear, being the team's main GC threat. He might not threaten for the win in the time trial, but certainly can open up a gap of minutes on someone like Van Emden tomorrow on Mt. Baldy.

We missed it on the video, but Christian Knees (Sky) slotted in to 8th with a 13:07, surely he's setting split times on the course for Henao and Kennaugh.

Janez Brajkovic (UHC) has not been getting much attention this week, he had a solid TT at Tour of the Gila and did a block at altitude in Tahoe to prepare for the Big Bear TT. It might have suited him better than this short, flat time trial. He's next up.

@josvanemden in the hot seat gets a visit from @thejensie! #AmgenTOC10th #ATOC2015 http://t.co/6jKAW3Raw1

@2followcycling Fri, 15th May 2015 23:08:01

Brajkovic is decked out in aero gear, takign a few deep breaths before pushing off down the ramp. The wind won't help him, because he's hardly made of anything but skin and bones.

Peter Sagan has 13 minutes before his start, he's still on the trainer keeping his legs warm.

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) is out on course, too.

Wow! his teammate Ben King comes in for fifth! Great ride.

Geoghegan Hart (Axeon) came in for 9th at 13:07, while Ben King was 13 flat. Only four riders have cracked the 13 minute barrier.

Only six more riders set to go now, but they'll be two minutes apart to keep them from catching each other and giving any advantage.

Here comes Henao - it looks like he might just crack 13 minutes! Yes 12:57.77

Zirbel got him by a fraction of a section, though. Henao slots into fourth.

Dombrowski is coming in and his time is not going to be in the top 10, he's losing half a minute on the GC favorite Henao.

Rosskopf - wow! Great ride with a 12:51! Fantastic for the young American on BMC.

Brajkovic did not have a good ride, coming in 13:40 or more.

Peter Sagan in the start house, he's ready to rock and roll.

Coming in is Peter Kennaugh and is outside of Henao's time - 16th place.

Looking for Ben Hermans (BMC) to do a big ride today - this is his kind of course.

Sagan is off, and now it's up to the young Latvian, Toms Skujins, to wrap up the stage.

Jay McCarthy comes through and he's under 13! 12:58 for the Tinkoff rider.

Skujins is off!

Skujins is spinning in a small gear, we wonder if maybe he missed the big ring at the start. He settled into a better gear quickly.

Craddock is coming in now, he'll be just outside the top 10 - 15th. 13:08.83

Hermans should be the next rider in. He won Fleche Brabanconne and a stage in the Tour of Yorkshire, and if he's feeling motivated and on form should do a good time.

Robert Gesink out on course looks like he's putting some good power down - a flat 10.6km TT isn't necessarily the best course for him, but he's definitely motivated.

The sun is out now for the final riders, and so no wet roads to help give Sagan the adrenalin rush he likes to get from two-wheel drifting around turns.

Hermans came through in 13:11, so perhaps it wasn't his kind of course after all. He's had a break after the classics, so might not have the form.

Dion Smith came through in 13:05, just outside the top 10.

Gesink coming through now and he's on a very good ride. He's outside the top time, but in 7th - 12:58 - very great performance and puts him in with a shout for Baldy!

Alaphilippe is coming through the final kilometer, really pushing a big gear and looking strong.

Alaphilippe gets out and sprints flat out! 12:50.03! Great great time! Will our prediction come true??

Now it's just Sagan and Skujins... Sagan is inside 1km to go and spinning a smaller gear, but maybe it's just because he's run out of them. He's simply flying.

Sagan flies around the turns and is immediately back in the aero bars. He's going to win this stage!

Sagan = amazing! 12:31.85. SMASH!

Van Emden looks really bummed. He's been all day in the hot seat and now just has to go home empty handed. Chapeau for a good effort.

Skujins doesn't look quite as quick as Sagan, but will he hold onto the GC?

Looks like it will be Sagan in yellow, Alaphilippe in second overall.

Stage winner Sagan - Skujins is already outside his time.

It's not a bad ride for Skujins, though. 13:17.47

The results for the day are as follows

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:12:32
2 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:12:46
3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:12:50
4 Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:12:51
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:12:53
6 Tom Zirbel (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:12:57
7 Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:12:57
8 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:12:58
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:12:58
10 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:12:59

By our math this is the GC:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 22:15:24
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:44
3 Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:48
4 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky 0:00:54
5 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:55
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:56
7 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team 0:00:57
8 Ben King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:57
9 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team 0:01:02
10 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) TrekRacing 0:01:03

Rosskopf is in third by our calculations and that's a very strong performance for the American. It will be up to Mt. Baldy tomorrow - we know Sagan won't factor.

Alaphilippe, Gesink, Henao and even Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) will be the ones to battle it out.

Correction to the GC, our math is bad.

General classification after stage 6

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 22:15:23
2 Toms Skujins (Lat) Hincapie Racing Team 0:00:28
3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:45
4 Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:49
5 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Team Sky 0:00:55
6 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:56
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:56
8 Ben King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin 0:00:58
9 Dion Smith (NZl) Hincapie Racing Team 0:01:03
10 Haimar Zubeldia Aguirre (Spa) TrekRacing 0:01:04

Skujins holds onto second overall!

Thanks for reading today - the big battle will take place on Mt. Baldy tomorrow - come back and follow it live with Cyclingnews!

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