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Tour of California 2016: Stage 2

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Hello and welcome to live coverage of the 2016 Tour of California's stage 2: South Pasadena to Santa Clarita, 148km

Tour of California Race Hub on Cyclingnews

Below you will find the stage 2 map of the route that the peloton will race, beginning in South Pasadena and finishing in Santa Clarita.

And here is the route profile of stage 2 at the Tour of California that includes four King of the Mountain climbs and two intermediate sprints.

If you missed the opening stage in San Diego yesterday, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) won the day and took the event's first leader's jersey. You can read the full report, and view the full results, images and video content here.

The riders are lining up on the start line and set to begin the race very shortly.

There is some overcast in South Pasadena today with a light breeze and temperatures of about 67F, but there is a little bit of humidity.

And the riders are off! They are riding a neutral start of 5.5km before the official start of the race.

The peloton will be thankful that today's exit from South Pasadena is much calmer than yesterday's hectic exit. The riders are rolling through beautiful hillside neighbourhoods, and they will pass the Rose Bowl on the way out.

Our Cyclingnews reporter Ted Burns spoke with Chris Jones of the UnitedHealthcare team this morning ahead of the race. Here is what he had to say,

And the peloton has just passed the 0km mark, signifying the official start of the race, and the Rose Bowl, a notorious finishing location over the years.

A group of about 20 riders have a slight gap over the field.

That group is continuously reshuffling at the moment, as some riders are dropping back and others are bridging across. 

Today is the second rest day at the Giro d'Italia. If you have a few minutes, listen to our latest Giro d'Italia: Rest-day reflections - Podcast

It's by no means an easy stage today. The peloton have left South Pasadena and the riders must immediately climb toward the first King of the Mountain at Angeles Crest HWY summit, at the 22.5km mark.

Roughly 22 riders have cleared the field along this early stretch of the race with an advantage of about 30 seconds.

The 22 riders now have 35 seconds on the field and Direct Energie is leading the chase at the front of the peloton.

As promised, here is a list of the 22 riders with bib# in the current breakaway as the race heads up Angeles Crest HWY summit.

Ben King of the Cannondale Pro Cycling team is in this early move. Cyclingnews' Ted Burns spoke with King after stage 1 yesterday about his comeback from a broken leg. He is hoping to put in a good ride at the Tour of California in order to secure a spot on the Tour de France team in July.

We have reports that Michael Schar and Caleb Fairly have been dropped from the breakaway.

The breakaway is about 5km away from the summit of the first King of the mountain in Angeles Crest HWY.

Axeon Hagens Berman have three riders in that front group including Powless, Barta and Curran.

The 20 riders out front have been caught by a splintering main field as they race toward the summit of the first KOM. 

But his teammate Nathan Haas is having a wonderful start to the stage. He has launched an attack, followed by Ben King (Cannondale), and the pair have a 10-second lead on the main field.

123km remaining from 148km

The results of the first King of the Mountain over Angeles Crest HWY are:

Alaphilippe was second overall at the Tour of California last year. He had taken the overall race lead from Peter Sagan on the stage that finished atop Mt. Baldy. That led to an exciting finale in Pasadena whereby Sagan's third-place stage finish lifted the Slovakian past Alaphilippe to win the overall title. 

There is a lot of action at the front of the race and it looks like a group of roughly 10 riders is beginning to clear the field.

109km remaining from 148km

Axeon Hagens Berman are certainly looking to make the breakaway today. Their rider, Nielson Powless, who was third in the first KOM, is a rider to watch for the overall classification this week.

Correction: It is not Pierrick Naud from Rally Cycling in the breakaway. It is his teammate Evan Huffman. He is with Ben King (Cannondale), William Barta (Axeon Hagens Berman) and Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (Giant-Alpecin).

Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) is predicting a very difficult stage today whereby a small group make it to the finish together.

98km remaining from 148km

Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly-Maxxis), who was the most aggressive rider on stage 1 and one point down in KOM at the start of today's stage noted that the first 60km of the day would be painful.

The four riders are really extending their lead, and it appears the peloton has let them go. 

The gap is now 5:50.

And the breakaway have crested the top of the second KOM.

91km remaining from 148km

We can expect to see more of Axel Merckx' young riders from the Axeon Hagens Berman team in breakaways all week. A notoriously aggressive bunch, they never hold back, even in big bike races like the Amgen Tour of California.

Sindre Skjostad Lunke is another young rider from the Giant-Alpecin team, only 23 years old. He's had a number of highlights from his career over the years including 5th overall at Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc in 2014, 3rd in a stage and 8th overall at the same race last year. He was also 7th at the Tour de l'Avenir last year, all under-23 events.

We spoke with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) at the start today to find out what he thought of the stage, and if he thought it might be a bunch sprint or a small group.

Kristoff is one of several strong sprinters at the Tour of California this week. He finished 16th in stage 1 yesterday.

Direct Energie has a vested interest in a bunch sprint today, and the team made a strong statement of that when they tried to control the race over the first KOM earlier today by leading the field up the early slopes.

63km remaining from 148km

With the first two KOMs out of the way. The field will set up for the first intermediate sprint on Oro Vista Avenue, located at the 93.5km mark.

But the climbing isn't over yet as they still have two more KOMs over Little Tujunga Canyon Road (111.5km) and again over Little Tujunga Canyon Road (118.5km).

Tinkoff is putting in a massive chase to bring the gap down, as overall race leader and current world champion Peter Sagan sits comfortably behind his teammates, protected from the wind and safe at the front of the field.

BMC Racing have lined up their riders behind Tinkoff, and the Dimension Data is sitting in third position.

King picked up the full points at the intermediate sprint on Oro Vista Avenue.

51km remaining from 148km

Direct Energie have sent a couple of riders to the front to help Tinkoff in the chase. Their respective sprinters, Bryan Coquard and Peter Sagan, likely won't have any trouble getting over the smaller climbs that are left in the race.

Trek-Segafredo have also sent a couple of riders to help set the pace of the field. They are going to be working for Kiel Reijnen today. 

The gap is down to 3:25 as the breakaway approaches the next two KOMs over Little Tujunga Canyon Road (111.5km and 118.5km).

Cyclingnews interviewed Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) after stage 1. He says his team has come to the Tour of California to take the top step on the podium; whether that goal is aimed at Craddock or his teammate Andrew Talansky, remains to be seen.

Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) spoke with Cyclingnews about the possibility of a sprint today in Santa Clarita, he said he is not expecting there to be a sprint at all.

Trek-Segafredo's Niccolo Bonifazio said he hopes he can make it over the climbs today, and if so, that he has enough left in the tank to sprint. All-in-all, he says he is in good shape.

37km remaining from 148km

The first time up Little Tujunga Canyon Road is 5km with an average gradient of 6.9%.

Bradley WIggins (Team WIGGINS) is losing ground on the climb, and so is Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).

A running Pope is making a quick pace alongside Ben King up the climb. He's officially been blessed in his bid for the KOM points! 

200metres to the top of the KOM

Huffman is leading into the KOM line with King on his wheel

But King did not have the strength to come around Huffman, who took the inside line around the bend, in the sprint to the top of the climb.

The race is headed toward the second climb over Little Tujunga Canyon Road, which is the fourth KOM and the final climb of the day.

King, Huffman and Barta have increased their lead to 3:15.

Juraj Sagan is leading his brother and overall race leader Peter Sagan down the descent. The pair are stretching the field out into single file as they try to pick up some speed into the final climb.

King is setting a quick pace on the climb as they approach the summit. The stakes are high for these points. The mountain jersey is on the line here and it could go either way; toward Huffman or King.

It was Hufman who picked up the points, barely contested by King once they reached the line. 

Rohan Dennis (BMC) is at the front of the field working for his teammate Brent Bookwalter this week at the Tour of California. 

Unfortunately, Will Barta has had a mechanical and is out of the breakaway.

Time trial world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) has crashed on the descent. He waited patiently at the side of the road for his team to provide him with a spare bike. He has gotten back on his bike and is chasing to catch back up to the field.

24km remaining from 148km

BMC has taken complete control of the peloton with 22km to go. 

Aike Visbeek (Giant-Alpecin coach) spoke to Cyclingnews at the start about the day's hilly stage to Santa Clarita.

Aike Visbeek (Giant-Alpecin coach) spoke to Cyclingnews at the start about the day's hilly stage to Santa Clarita.

Katusha is now chasing at the front of the field. If Alexander Kristoff is still in the field, he will surly want to try again for a stage win.

Katusha is now chasing at the front of the field. If Alexander Kristoff is still in the field, he will surly want to try again for a stage win.

BMC and Katusha have a grip on the front of the field, while King, Huffman and Barta desperately try and hold their gap at 1:40 with 14km to go.

Ben King has a lot of Twitter fans that want to see him hang on to his lead. Unfortunately, it doesn't look promising as the gap is coming down fast.

Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) is also in the field and could surprise everyone with a stage win today.

John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) is also in the field still and will no doubt try and go for the win.

Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) has determined teammates, who have been coming to the front to set pace frequently throughout the stage in an effort to give their sprinter the best possible chance of success today.

Meanwhile, King, Huffman and Barta are hanging on by only 50 seconds.

Juraj Sagan is ushering his brother Peter around at the front of the field, keeping him in a safe position. There are several other Tinkoff riders sitting slightly further back in the field ready to come to the fore ahead of a bunch sprint.

8km remaining from 148km

There are only 5km left of his race and King and Huffman are still pushing to hold their gap of 40 seconds.

There is still a small chance that they could stay away.

With 3km to go, Katush has come to the front of the field with a full lead-out train for Alexander Kristoff.

King is taking turn on the front, as Huffman sits on his wheel.

The pair cross under the 1km to go banner.

Huffman is sprinting, King chasing.

But it is Ben King who takes the stage win!

The peloton sprinted in for third place only seconds behind the King and Huffman.

King is getting hugs and high fives from all of his Cannondale teammates.

King may not have taken the last two KOM sprints but he got the best prize of the day - the stage win.

Kristoff finished third, Sagan fourth.

Tour of California stage 2 - Brief Results
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1Ben King (USA) Cannondale   2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling   3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha   4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team   5Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo   6Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky   7Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling   8Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data   9Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie   10Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team  

King told Cyclingnews yesterday that he wanted to make a strong comeback at the Tour of California, and he did exactly that!

And it's official. Ben King has also taken over the race lead.

Tour of California stage 2 - brief results

Thanks for following our live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour of California. We hope you join us again tomorrow for the live coverage of stage 3.

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