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Tour of California 2016: Stage 3

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Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2016 Amgen Tour of California. We're up for the first big mountain finish of the race on stage 3 to Gibraltar Road, above Santa Barbara.

Start list  |  Stage 3 Preview

GC after stage 2:

The peloton is off for their neutral lap in Thousand Oaks for stage 3 of the Tour of California. The town is the home of long-time sponsor, biotech giant Amgen.

All of the 144 riders started today's third stage. Ben King (Cannondale) is our yellow jersey, Daniel Eaton (UnitedHealthcare) is best young rider after yesterday's breakaway. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) is in the mountains jersey and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) is in his familiar green jersey of best sprinter.

Riders are underway - it's overcast and a little muggy in Thousand Oaks this morning but fine for a bike race.

William Barta (Axeon Hagens Berman) was our Rider of the Day yesterday for his tenacious ride in the breakaway.

The peloton is blasting out of Thousand Oaks at high speed, and attacks have been shooting off like fireworks.

The first KOM sprint is just 5km away - it's a tough start to the stage with a category 3 climb on Potrero Rd then a cat. 2 ascent on Westlake Blvd. But riders get a breather with flat roads for the majority of the middle of the stage.

Our five riders are:

159km remaining from 167km

The climbers will be saving their bullets for today's finish, but it will be a hard transition from the flat middle section of the stage to such a hard climb.

 

KOM 1:

The race passes by Magnum PI's Tom Selleck's house - but there's no red Ferrari out front. He's moved on to the more sedate Blue Bloods role now so is probably driving a Prius...

Cannondale's newcomer Toms Skujins led last year's Tour of California for three stages after winning in San Jose. 

 

The second climb is indeed a nasty one. Expect a grupetto to form on this one, but they'll have plenty of time to chase back in the valley.

Our reporter Pat Malach is enjoying his ride in the media car today. He's keeping the passenger seat warm for Ted Burns, who will be on the men's race for the rest of the week. The Lexus NX 200T is being broken in for the overall race winner - whoever he is will get to keep it after the race!

147km remaining from 167km

The leaders are on the climb, and Huffman and Clark have gone on the attack for the KOM points.

Clark was in the breakaway on stage 1 and was our first mountains jersey of the race. But he's seven points down on Huffman in the standings.

The breakaway is nearing the top of the climb, twisting and weaving around the ridge. Then they'll have a fast descent to the coast for a nice change of pace.

Nielson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) showed his talents at the Tour of the Gila earlier this month. Here he's co-leader with Tao Geoghegan Hart, who was best young rider in Gila.

146km remaining from 167km

Clark managed to out-kick Huffman on the climb, moving himself up in the mountains classification. They had a 25 second gap to the rest of the breakaway, but we expect that to come back together on the descent.

Looks like Cannondale isn't give much leeway to the breakaway today, and they've picked up the five chasers, leaving Clark and Huffman on their own out front. The pair have 3:45 on the bunch.

133km remaining from 167km

Currently Huffman is our virtual leader of the general and mountains classification. He started out just 8 seconds behind King today, while Clark was 2:06 down.

May is a big month for bike racing. Not only do we have Tour of California, but the Giro d'Italia. Today's stage was another exciting one - you can read the report and check out our video highlights.

 

The repeater is having problems, leaving us with spotty information from the race. But we are now told that the original break of seven is back together, and the information that the five chasers were caught was wrong.

126km remaining from 167km

Huffman is well familiar with the coastal highway, having been training here with the Rally team in its camp earlier this season.

Another rider who's familiar with the California roads is Laurens ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin). You can read about his American adventures in this interview posted today.

The California beaches aren't the nice, sandy, warm beaches of Florida - here they are rocky, cold and dangerous at times. The road the breakaway is traveling on is carved into the side of a cliff that goes straight down to the water.

123km remaining from 167km

Dimension Data is collecting data from their riders during this week's race - you can follow them on Twitter to get all the information.

There are big crowds lining the road as the riders pass Point Mugu.

The leaders pass by the nearby NAS Point Mugu naval base. There's an AWAC radar plane circling overhead, and they passed by a live firing range - bang! Bang!

114km remaining from 167km

 

The leaders are passing through the land of strawberries and other agricultural crops - it's flat and flat and flat.

Ohh! now the leaders are passing a sod farm (that's grass to you Brits out there). Nothing but miles and miles of grass.

Cabbage and sugar cane now. The riders could have a feast if they wanted to. Our sometime photographer Casey Gibson has stopped at one of the local fruit stands for a snack. Strawberry handups anyone?

What's going to happen on Gibraltar Rd? Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) gave his ideas on how the finale might unfold. You can read it here.

95km remaining from 167km

94km remaining from 167km

Huffman is actually third in the points classification - but even if he wins both sprints today he won't surpass Peter Sagan in that competition.

Sprint 1:

Tennant and Putt get something to show for their day in the breakaway with a three and two points, respectively. Clark gets a single point.

87km remaining from 167km

 

If you missed yesterday's Tour of California stage, you can check out the highlights here.

Oh dear, Patrick Bevin (Cannondale), crashed in the feed zone but is back up and riding. It gets pretty dodgy with musettes and bottles flying everywhere. We hope the New Zealand TT champion is OK.

The race is on the slowest schedule today thanks to that headwind they've been riding into all day. Once they get to Ventura and head inland they should get some shelter and see the gap dwindle.

Today's finish on Gibraltar Road is thanks to a new stretch of tarmac that was laid down over a year ago. But there are no facilities at the finish so it's hard for fans to get up there unless they ride up on bike. I'm sure there are plenty of willing people who will be up cheering the racers on.

The peloton is taking its time with lunch as they head into Ventura. The gap has gone to 4:00.

It's Greg Van Avermaet's birthday today, but we don't expect to see Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner fighting for victory today as he is just getting back into action after breaking his collarbone during the Tour of Flanders. He turns 31.

Earlier this week we asked our readers to send in questions for Katusha sprinter Alexander Kristoff. We had some good ones, and he was kind enough to give us answers. Let's hear what he had to say!

Kristoff replies: "I have many good friends and of course my team with Marco [Haller] and Jacopo [Guarnieri] and Sven [Sven Erik Bystrøm] – of course I have to say Jacopo because he’s sitting right here. From my previous team of BMC I still talk to my friend Michael Schär."

66km remaining from 167km

The leaders pass by the Ventura river Steelhead preserve, keeping the population of that fish healthy. 

59km remaining from 167km

The leaders have less than 10k to go to the penultimate KOM of the day, and polka dot jersey wearer Evan Huffman (Rally) is keeping tabs on his companions.

As the peloton heads north they are being hit by a crosswind from their left, but they're about to head straight into the wind. The echelons won't last long.

56km remaining from 167km

Two Cannondale riders are left at the front to keep things in check as King works his way through the peloton.

Although there are nice green trees along the road, the majority of the hills are brown with dry grass thanks in part to a devastating drought that has hit California. While Northern California benefitted from the El Niño rains, Southern California is still bone dry.

Andy Tennant is looking lean and fit in the breakaway today. He is part of Great Britain's team of hopefuls for the Olympic team pursuit.  

Arredondo bumps along on the center line, which has some divots in it to wake up drowsy drivers. The Colombian adjusts his course onto smoother roads.

51km remaining from 167km

The gap is starting to fall a bit to 3:15 as the leaders approach the category 3 KOM. Huffman is hanging out at the back watching Clark.

Arredondo is looking around as if he's going to make a move. But he just sits back down at the back of the breakaway.

A man with a surfboard runs along side the rides in bare feet as they head toward the KOM. He's got a long way to go to find the water!

200m to go to the climb and Huffman attacks! Clark goes with him but can't get past.

KOM 3:

Tanner Putt took third and then went straight past to head down the hill at breakneck speed. Clark and Huffman follow, leaving the others to chase.

45km remaining from 167km

The leaders have come back together as the road leveled out, and Huffman goes back for a bottle at the Rally car. Eric Wohlberg is behind the wheel today - the Canadian shouts some words of encouragement.

The leaders have another fun descent, and once again Putt goes to the front to push the pace. He knows how to take advantage of every twist and turn. 

The final climb on Gibraltar Rd. is about 12.5km long, averages 7%, and while there are no pros on the Strava KOM list, the best male time is 41 minutes, even if the time table for the stage shows an estimate of 34 minutes.

39km remaining from 167km

The peloton are getting lined out on this quick descent, giving each other plenty of room as the divots in the center lane are to be carefully avoided.

While the race goes to Lake Tahoe this year, today's finish is the biggest, hardest climb of the race, so it's critical that the climbers make their mark today if they want to win the overall.

37km remaining from 167km

After the sprint, there are only 20km for the peloton to catch these leaders before the base of the final climb. Expect a massive surge in pace soon. Trek-Segafredo will certainly not participate as Arredondo is out front and is an accomplished climber.

BMC has found each other at the back of the Cannondale train - the gap is 2:35 still - when will another team put a rider up front?

Tennant hits out for the intermediate sprint

Sprint 2:

31km remaining from 167km

The peloton underestimated the breakaway yesterday to put King in the leader's jersey - have they miscalculated again? The gap to the seven is still at 2:25, with 17km to the foot of the final climb. The breakaway is lined out behind Clark who is setting a brisk pace

27km remaining from 167km

Oh that's right - Team Sky are here! A few of their riders are tucked in behind the first bunch of teams in the peloton. 

World time trial champion Vasil Kiryienka is part of Sky's team here, but it's Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko-Citadel) who wears the Belarus champion's jersey.

24km remaining from 167km

Tennant is also going out the back.

23km remaining from 167km

Putt once again goes crazy on a quick descent, getting low and aero to gain whatever advantage he can. They've got 20 seconds on the three chasers, and 1:45 still on the field.

20km remaining from 167km

18km remaining from 167km

Crash in the peloton! Kennaugh (Sky) has gone down - Coquard (Direct Energie) too. Kennaugh is in pain, looks like it could be a broken right collarbone? Coquard is up though.

The crash has disturbed the order in the peloton, but the groups are coming back together on this wide open road.

15km remaining from 167km

Wiggins has already joined the beginnings of the grupetto. Sagan is back there, too - they haven't quite let the leaders go yet, but they're positioned to do so.

14km remaining from 167km

The time board holds up the gap for the camera, showing 1:00 - in contrast to what the official TV banner says. The leaders are starting up the climb, it's gentle so far.

Sagan leads the gruppetto as the camera men for some strange reason have decided not to show any of the action.

Daniel spins a low gear as the two leaders hit a steeper pitch of the Gibraltar climb. 

12km remaining from 167km

Putt, more of a sprinter by trade, lets go of Greg Daniel after that steep pitch. It's now one man against 140 or so.

11km remaining from 167km

It was a long day in the breakaway yesterday for King, and he said he didn't expect to stick with the leaders today.

The road opens up and you can see the mansions dotting the hillsides - the chasing bunch can see Greg Daniel up ahead. He gets a little bit of respite on a flater section.

A man dressed as the pope blesses Greg Daniel as he's caught.

10km remaining from 167km

Wyss has pulled away one Axeon rider with Cannondale letting the gap go a bit. Is that Powless?

It is Neilson Powless - the strong climber who was second best young rider to teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart at the Tour of the Gila.

9km remaining from 167km

Powless was 24 seconds down on the GC this morning - but so far no big reaction from Cannondale. BMC has Bookwalter, Dennis, Sanchez, and there are a handful of Cannondale riders. 

Trek has a trio of riders, and there's an Etixx rider that looks like Julian Alaphilippe. He's said he's not chasing GC, but he will certainly like a stage win today.

7km remaining from 167km

6km remaining from 167km

There's one Rally rider in the chase, one from Giant-Alpecin and about 20 total behind Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) - but the gap to Powless appears to be going out. He is riding into the virtual race lead now with 30 seconds.

Not to raise alarm bells, but these guys don't want to let Powless go - he won the TT in Redlands so it's not a bad discipline for him, and he can climb. 5k to go.

Andrew Talansky has come to the front now and lopped 10 seconds off Powless' lead - it's 20s with only 2.5 miles to go.

Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly) is in the chase - Tour of the Gila winner. Looks like he's planning an attack.

Morton attacks! He's pulling away with a Trek rider.

4km remaining from 167km

4km remaining from 167km

3km remaining from 167km

All of these riders were 24s down on King, who's been dropped for good. Who will wear yellow tonight?

3km remaining from 167km

Only eight riders in the chase: Ten Dam from Giant, Craddock and Talansky, Bookwalter, Sanchez and Dennis (BMC), George Bennett and Alaphilippe.

Morton is looking good with Powless and Stetina, but only 2.3k to go and plenty of time for attacks.

2km remaining from 167km

Craddock is second wheel but when Sanchez looks around he takes over.

1km remaining from 167km

The ticker is wrong as usual, but Stetina is inside 1k to go and looks sure to win.

Morton is hanging on in no man's land. 

Alaphilippe and Bennett can see Morton ahead - flamme rouge for Stetina.

Stetina had that horrific crash last year, so it's great to see this performance.

Alaphilippe looks so strong, Stetina is in his sights.

They go around a bend and Alaphilippe is going to catch him.

No one else is in the picture as Stetina has a chance to sit on and let the Frenchman lead

We hope the American saved something to sprint with.

The answer is no! Alaphilippe is on fire!

The Etixx rider used the motorbike to get a little draft then sped past. Can Stetina hold off the chase now?

Alaphilippe wins!

Stetina holds on for second.

Bennett third, then Ten Dam leads Powless to the line. Craddock and Talansky are a minute down on the stage winner.

Was his declaration that he isn't going for GC this year a game for Alaphilippe? Or did he just find something special out on the road?

Bookwalter actually slotted in for fourth ahead of Powless.

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo
3 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
4 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman
6 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
7 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
8 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team
10 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling

Ben King comes across with a couple Jelly Belly riders - more than five minutes behind the winner.

Alaphilippe makes it two Etixx riders in the race lead today - after Bob Jungels took over from teammate Gianluca Brambilla in the Giro d'Italia lead.

Tomorrow's stage heads the long way up the coast to Monterey's Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. It's one for the sprinters, and perfectly suited for Peter Sagan as they tackle the infamous corkscrew.

GC:

Tomorrow is the longest stage of the race, taking riders 215km from Morro Bay to Laguna Seca. Join us for the live coverage again tomorrow! Thanks for reading.

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