Tour of California: Ben King wins stage 2 in Santa Clarita

Ben King (Cannondale Pro Cycling) pulled off an upset win Monday at the Tour of California, stealing the stage 2 win in Santa Clarita from the sprinters in a two-up sprint with breakaway companion Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling).

The stage win also moved King into the overall race lead, as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) won the bunch sprint eight seconds later ahead of stage 1 winner Peter Sagan.

The stage win was for the first for US riders at the Tour of California since Taylor Phinney won in Santa Barabara in 2014, and it comes just months after King broke his fibula during an early season training ride.

"I'm really happy, but my legs were really angry today," King told Cyclingnews in the finishing straight after the stage.

"They told me to go into the break, and normally four guys on a stage like this really doesn't have a chance, but I think a lot of the sprinters' teams had there helpers dropped, and so we knew we had a chance," he said.

King and Huffman were the sole survivors of a four-rider move that got away after the first KOM, and then they pulled off the rare feat of sticking their move to the line on the day when the sprinters' teams looked determined to pull them back.

"The other three guys in the breakaway with me were super strong, especially Evan," King said. "Nobody skipped a turn all day. It was super cohesive, and that’s what ultimately did it."

How it happened

Monday's 148.5km second stage took riders from South Pasadena north to Santa Clarita after four categorised climbs and two intermediate sprints. The route started uphill almost immediately, with the first category 1 KOM on Angels Crest Highway coming just 22.5km into the stage.

The second KOM, the category 2 climb of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon summited just 30km later to make a very difficult opening 60km. The last two KOMs, the second category climbs on Little Tujunga Canyon Road, came later in the day at 111.5km and 118.5km. A generally downhill run to the finish from there tempted the teams that had sprinters who could climb.

The move was short-lived, however, as Direct Energie, hoping to set up a reduced bunch sprint for sprinter Bryan Coqaurd, massed on the front and pulled the leaders back just before the summit. Alaphilippe held on to take the maximum KOM points ahead of Daniel Jaramillo (UnitedHelthcare) and Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman).

A second, much smaller group formed after the first KOM, with King, William Barta (Axeon Hagens Berman), Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (Giant-Alpecin) and Huffman sneaking away on the descent. They poured on the power as the peloton regrouped for the chase, quickly building a gap of 7:30 about halfway through the race. Huffman took full points at the second KOM, followed by King, Barta and then Lunke.

Direct Energie and Tinkoff picked up the chase again, restarting the game of cat and mouse between the escapees and the bunch. The chasers whittled the lead down to 3:30 with 50km to go, and a bunch sprint looked possible if the sprinters could make it over the final two climbs.

As the breakaway made its way to the third KOM, Lunke fell off the pace as the Huffman, King and Barta continued up to the KOM, where Huffman won again ahead of King and Barta. Huffman repeated his performance on the final KOM, securing the KOM jersey for Tuesday's queen stage.

From there it was a test of wills and horsepower, with the peloton winning that battle as BMC came to the front in the last 30km and Barta puncturing out of the lead group. The Axeon rider dug deep to make it back up to Huffman and King, the effort no doubt robbed some horsepower from their combined effort.

BMC director Jackson Stewart said his team went to the front to bring down the gap rather than try to set up Greg Van Avermaet for a sprint finish. 

"They weren't really bringing it back, and we were nervous of Ben King with too much time," he said. "We just kind of saw that Sagan's team fell apart on the first climb, and a lot of sprinters were dropped the first climb, so we kind of thought that maybe they didn't have the same horsepower to control the gap. 

"We didn't want to give them more than a minute, but then we just got stuck," Stewart said. "Nobody wanted to come up and help, so we just kept riding."

With 20km to go, the gap was down to 1:55 as it started to become clear the peloton, which was being led by a team that was more focused on limiting general classification losses than a stage win, had left the chase too late and the winner would come from the break.

Barta lost contact again in the closing kilometres, leaving King and Huffman to sprint it out for the stage win.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling3:52:09
2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally CyclingRow 1 - Cell 2
3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:08
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 4 - Cell 2
6Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team SkyRow 5 - Cell 2
7Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 6 - Cell 2
8Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension DataRow 7 - Cell 2
9Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 8 - Cell 2
10Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 9 - Cell 2
11Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 10 - Cell 2
12Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 12 - Cell 2
14Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 13 - Cell 2
15Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 14 - Cell 2
16Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 15 - Cell 2
17Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 16 - Cell 2
18Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 17 - Cell 2
19John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 18 - Cell 2
20Michael Mørkøv (Den) Team KatushaRow 19 - Cell 2
21Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 20 - Cell 2
22Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 22 - Cell 2
24Tao Geoghegan-Hart (GBr) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 23 - Cell 2
25Alex Peters (GBr) Team SkyRow 24 - Cell 2
26Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 25 - Cell 2
27Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 26 - Cell 2
28Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 27 - Cell 2
29Robin Carpenter (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Janez Brajkovic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 30 - Cell 2
32Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 31 - Cell 2
33Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
34Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 33 - Cell 2
35Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 34 - Cell 2
36Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Team KatushaRow 35 - Cell 2
37Tiago Machado (Por) Team KatushaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo NordiskRow 37 - Cell 2
39Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team SkyRow 38 - Cell 2
40Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 39 - Cell 2
41Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 40 - Cell 2
42Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Krists Neilands (Lat) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 42 - Cell 2
44Rob Britton (Can) Rally CyclingRow 43 - Cell 2
45George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 44 - Cell 2
46Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 45 - Cell 2
47Michael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff TeamRow 46 - Cell 2
48Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension DataRow 47 - Cell 2
49Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 49 - Cell 2
51Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 50 - Cell 2
52Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 51 - Cell 2
53Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team SkyRow 52 - Cell 2
54Phillip Gaimon (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 53 - Cell 2
55Angus Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 54 - Cell 2
56Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 55 - Cell 2
57Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 56 - Cell 2
58Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally CyclingRow 57 - Cell 2
59Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 58 - Cell 2
60Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 59 - Cell 2
61Mark Christian (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 60 - Cell 2
62Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 61 - Cell 2
63Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 62 - Cell 2
64Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 63 - Cell 2
65Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 64 - Cell 2
66Danny Pate (USA) Rally CyclingRow 65 - Cell 2
67Daniel Jaramillo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 66 - Cell 2
68Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 67 - Cell 2
69Lachlan Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 68 - Cell 2
70Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 69 - Cell 2
71Maxime Bouet (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 70 - Cell 2
72Jordan Cheyne (Can) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 71 - Cell 2
73Andzs Flaksis (Lat) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 72 - Cell 2
74John Hornbeck (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 73 - Cell 2
75William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 74 - Cell 2
76Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension DataRow 75 - Cell 2
77Xabier Zandio (Spa) Team SkyRow 76 - Cell 2
78Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 77 - Cell 2
79Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 78 - Cell 2
80Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team KatushaRow 80 - Cell 2
82Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 81 - Cell 2
83Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
84Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 83 - Cell 2
85Taylor Sheldon (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 84 - Cell 2
86Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct EnergieRow 85 - Cell 2
87Geoffrey Curran (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:00:19
88Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:37
89Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:00:47
90Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:00:54
91Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:01:55
92Rob Squire (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:00:08
93Adam de Vos (Can) Rally Cycling0:06:09
94Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 93 - Cell 2
95Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:07:19
96David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo NordiskRow 95 - Cell 2
97Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:10:16
98Pierrick Naud (Can) Rally CyclingRow 97 - Cell 2
99Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 98 - Cell 2
100William Routley (Can) Rally CyclingRow 99 - Cell 2
101Ryan Anderson (Can) Direct EnergieRow 100 - Cell 2
102Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo NordiskRow 101 - Cell 2
103Jesse Anthony (USA) Rally CyclingRow 102 - Cell 2
104Michael Thompson (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 103 - Cell 2
105Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 104 - Cell 2
106Chris Putt (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 105 - Cell 2
107Ben Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 106 - Cell 2
108Michael Sheehan (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 107 - Cell 2
109Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo NordiskRow 108 - Cell 2
110Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 109 - Cell 2
111Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 110 - Cell 2
112Julián Arredondo (Col) Trek-SegafredoRow 111 - Cell 2
113Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 112 - Cell 2
114Dennis van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 113 - Cell 2
115Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 114 - Cell 2
116Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 115 - Cell 2
117Martin Velits (Svk) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 116 - Cell 2
118Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team KatushaRow 117 - Cell 2
119Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 118 - Cell 2
120Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 119 - Cell 2
121Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:14:24
122Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team SkyRow 121 - Cell 2
123Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk0:15:30
124Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo NordiskRow 123 - Cell 2
125Christopher Williams (Aus) Team Novo NordiskRow 124 - Cell 2
126Stephen Clancy (Irl) Team Novo NordiskRow 125 - Cell 2
127Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing TeamRow 126 - Cell 2
128Caleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 127 - Cell 2
129Daniel Patten (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 128 - Cell 2
130Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 129 - Cell 2
131Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension DataRow 130 - Cell 2
132Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Dimension DataRow 131 - Cell 2
133Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension DataRow 132 - Cell 2
134Jake Kelly (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 133 - Cell 2
135Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension DataRow 134 - Cell 2
136Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension DataRow 135 - Cell 2
137John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 136 - Cell 2
138Joseph Lewis (Aus) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 137 - Cell 2
139Christopher Latham (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:18:03
140Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff TeamRow 139 - Cell 2
141Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 140 - Cell 2
142Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 141 - Cell 2
143Erik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 142 - Cell 2
144Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff TeamRow 143 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1 - Oro Vista Ave, km.93.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling3pts
2William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-Alpecin1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Placerita Canyon Rd, km.124
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling3pts
2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling2Row 1 - Cell 3
3William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Finish - Santa Clarita, km.148.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling15pts
2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha9Row 2 - Cell 3
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team1Row 9 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 - Angeles Crest Hwy summit, km.22.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step8pts
2Daniel Jaramillo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team7Row 1 - Cell 3
3Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman6Row 2 - Cell 3
4Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team5Row 3 - Cell 3
5Phillip Gaimon (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling3Row 4 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 - Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd summit, km.52
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling5pts
2Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling4Row 1 - Cell 3
3William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-Alpecin1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Mountain 3 - Little Tujunga Canyon Rd summit, km.111.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling5pts
2Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling4Row 1 - Cell 3
3William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-Alpecin1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Mountain 4 - Little Tujunga Canyon Rd summit, km.118.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling5pts
2Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling4Row 1 - Cell 3
3William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Young riders
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo3:52:17
2Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team SkyRow 1 - Cell 2
3Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 2 - Cell 2
4Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 3 - Cell 2
5Tao Geoghegan-Hart (GBr) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 4 - Cell 2
6Alex Peters (GBr) Team SkyRow 5 - Cell 2
7Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 6 - Cell 2
8Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 7 - Cell 2
9Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 8 - Cell 2
10Krists Neilands (Lat) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 9 - Cell 2
11Michael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff TeamRow 10 - Cell 2
12Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 12 - Cell 2
14Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 13 - Cell 2
15William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team KatushaRow 15 - Cell 2
17Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 16 - Cell 2
18Geoffrey Curran (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:00:11
19Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:29
20Adam de Vos (Can) Rally Cycling0:06:01
21Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:10:08
22Michael Thompson (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 21 - Cell 2
23Chris Putt (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 22 - Cell 2
24Ben Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 23 - Cell 2
25Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo NordiskRow 24 - Cell 2
26Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 25 - Cell 2
27Jake Kelly (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:15:22
28Christopher Latham (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:17:55
29Erik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
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Combativity award
Rider Name (Country) Team
William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman
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Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Cannondale Pro Cycling Team11:36:43
2Rally CyclingRow 1 - Cell 2
3Etixx-Quick Step0:00:08
4BMC Racing TeamRow 3 - Cell 2
5Axeon Hagens BermanRow 4 - Cell 2
6Team KatushaRow 5 - Cell 2
7Trek - SegafredoRow 6 - Cell 2
8UnitedHealthcareRow 7 - Cell 2
9Team SkyRow 8 - Cell 2
10Team LottoNl-JumboRow 9 - Cell 2
11TinkoffRow 10 - Cell 2
12Holowesko Citadel p/b HincapieRow 11 - Cell 2
13Direct EnergieRow 12 - Cell 2
14Team Dimension DataRow 13 - Cell 2
15Team Giant-AlpecinRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 15 - Cell 2
17Team Novo Nordisk0:17:27
18Team WIGGINS0:20:24
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General classification after stage 2
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling8:12:34
2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling0:00:08
3Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team0:00:14
4Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha