Tour of California: Alaphilippe wins queen stage

Just as he did 12-months ago, Julian Alaphilippe rode to victory on the queen stage of the Tour of California with a solo win ahead of Peter Stetina on the steep slopes of Gibraltar Road to move into the yellow jersey. The Etixx-Quick Step rider caught then passed Stetina in the closing stages of the climb to finish 15 seconds clear of the Trek-Segafredo rider in what was the first test for the general classification riders.

"I am really happy, it is the my first victory of the season," said Alaphilippe in a post-race television interview. "Today there was a bit of stress in the peloton because everybody knows and everybody waits until the last climb for the final fight so Cannondale did a good job all the day with the control. For me personally, the goal of the team was to be in a really good position for the last climb in the beginning and I was in the first position, thank you to me team for keeping eyes on me all day. I was really surprised to be in a good position in the last two k's and could also make a good effort to take the victory as well so I am happy."

Stetina looked to be riding to the win as he accelerated away from Lachlan Morton (Jelly-Belly) and Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) with just over 2km to the summit. Cheered on by boisterous fans on the 10% gradients, Stetina's move forced a reaction from the chase group that had been controlled by Cannondale and BMC who were looking to set up Lawson Craddock and Brent Bookwalter respectively. However, it was Alaphilippe and George Bennett of Team LottoNl-Jumbo who led the chase of Stetina.

Just after the flamme rouge, Alaphilippe sprinted past Powless and keep pounding his pedals until catching Stetina at 400 metres to race. Stetina jumped on Alaphilippe's wheel but couldn't match the Frenchman's kick which took him to the stage win and onto the podium as race leader.

"I am always motivated so motivation is not a problem, it's just that this year is a little bit different," said the 23-year-old of his ambitions to win the race overall. "Last year I was in good shape for the general classification but after Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the classics season I did a break so its my first race after a little break for the second part of the season so its different." 

Bennett and Bookwalter were the next best riders on the road before Powless capped off one his best day's on the bike yet with fifth place, followed home by the GC men.

As it stands, Alaphilippe has a 19 second advantage over Stetina with New Zealander Bennett third at 31 seconds although it is Bookwalter (fourth at 27 seconds) and his teammate Rohan Dennis (eighth at 58 seconds) who look likely to take the race lead after the 20km stage 6 Folsom time trial.

"I am not prepared for the general classification but I don’t know, we never know, I do our best every day. It's a long TT, 20km, so its not my speciality, I am not really good for the TT but we will see uh," added Alaphilippe.

How it happened

The early break was formed when Andrew Tennant (Team WIGGINS), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Gregory Daniel (Axeon Hagens Berman), Krists Neilands (Axeon Hagens Berman) and Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) pushed clear.

Huffman had moved into the lead in the KOM jersey on stage 2 and his intentions were clear once more. The five leaders were soon joined by Julian Arredondo (Trek-Segafredo) and Oscar Clark (Holowesko-Citadel).

It was Huffman who took maximum points on the first climb of the stage, beating Clark into second, with Daniel in third.

The peloton, meanwhile, were marshalled carefully by Cannondale as they protected the lead of Ben King, who had beaten Huffman on stage 2 and moved into the leader's jersey as a result.

The seven leaders were able to establish a lead of just over four minutes roughly 100 kilometres into the stage. The gap began to come down as the race headed towards the second climb of the day, where Clark took his revenge and beat Huffman to the line.

They swapped positions once more on the penultimate climb but with the peloton hot on their heels and the gap reduced to 2:35 with 40 kilometres to go.
Tennant's acceleration to pick up the bonus seconds at the final intermediate sprint briefly split the cohesion in the break, just as the peloton began to organise a more thorough chase as BMC came to the front.

Both Clark and Huffman were distanced when Putt hit the front on an uncategorised climb – the former two saving the powder for another KOM battle later in the race. Putt once more went on the front foot with the gap down to 1:25 and with 20 kilometres remaining. Only Daniel could follow.

The pace at the front of the peloton and the tussle for position saw Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) hit the deck. Team Sky confirming post race the British champion had broken his collarbone.

Up ahead and the leading pair still had a minute of an advantage as they hit the lower slopes of Gibraltar Road. Once on the climb, Daniel started to ride away from Putt before the two young riders were brought back. Despite being the youngest rider in the race, Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) wasn't intimated by his older and more experienced rivals as he was the first rider to attack off the front of the peloton and open up a gap of 30 seconds.

Morton and then Stetina made their moves to bridge up with Powless as Cannondale had Andrew Talansky setting the chase pace and whittling down the lead. Stetina decided to go on his own and ride away from Morton and Powless and opened up a gap as the riders started to move from the chase group.

Once Alaphilippe made his move, the focus was centred on the Etixx - Quick-Step rider and whether he would repeat his Mt Baldy antics as a known quality compared to his relatively anonymity from 12 months when he surprised the peloton by taking the stage and yellow jersey double. In the end there was no question as Alaphilippe became the 11th rider from his team to enjoy a victory in 2016 on the same day his teammate Bob Jungels pulled on the pink jersey at the Giro d'italia.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step4:36:59
2Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo0:00:15
3George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:00:25
4Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:00:27
5Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:00:30
6Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:33
7Lachlan Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis0:00:35
8Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:00:48
9Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:59
11Rob Britton (Can) Rally CyclingRow 10 - Cell 2
12Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 11 - Cell 2
13Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:01:02
14Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Axeon Hagens Berman0:01:18
15Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:01:20
16Javier Megias (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk0:01:23
17John Hornbeck (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Team Katusha0:01:31
19Tao Geoghegan-Hart (GBr) Axeon Hagens Berman0:02:00
20Janez Brajkovic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:02:21
21Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Direct Energie0:02:24
22Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data0:02:38
23Maxime Bouet (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:52
24Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Dimension Data0:02:54
25Rob Squire (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Robin Carpenter (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:03:28
27Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky0:04:14
28Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension DataRow 27 - Cell 2
29Sindre Skjøstad Lunke (Nor) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 28 - Cell 2
30Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-SegafredoRow 29 - Cell 2
31Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Mark Christian (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:04:45
33Alexey Vermeulen (USA) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:04:52
34Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Team Katusha0:05:04
35Ben King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:05:28
36Daniel Jaramillo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Jordan Cheyne (Can) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 36 - Cell 2
38Angus Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 37 - Cell 2
39Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:05:49
40Phillip Gaimon (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:06:23
41Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie0:07:38
42Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha0:08:44
43Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:09:38
44Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 43 - Cell 2
45Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 44 - Cell 2
46Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 45 - Cell 2
47Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 46 - Cell 2
48Michael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Taylor Sheldon (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 48 - Cell 2
50Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk0:10:39
51Michael Sheehan (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 50 - Cell 2
52Martin Velits (Svk) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 51 - Cell 2
53Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 52 - Cell 2
54Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 53 - Cell 2
55Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 54 - Cell 2
56Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct EnergieRow 55 - Cell 2
57Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 56 - Cell 2
58Andzs Flaksis (Lat) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Krists Neilands (Lat) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 58 - Cell 2
60Travis McCabe (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:10:46
61Geoffrey Curran (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:10:48
62Daniel Eaton (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:11:58
63Daniel Patten (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 62 - Cell 2
64Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling0:12:19
65Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:12:35
66David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk0:13:08
67Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:13:50
68Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 67 - Cell 2
69Adam de Vos (Can) Rally CyclingRow 68 - Cell 2
70Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 69 - Cell 2
71Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 70 - Cell 2
72Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 71 - Cell 2
73Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk0:15:08
74Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo NordiskRow 73 - Cell 2
75Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team0:15:10
76Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:15:43
77Dennis van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 76 - Cell 2
78Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 77 - Cell 2
79Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team SkyRow 78 - Cell 2
80Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 79 - Cell 2
81Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 80 - Cell 2
82Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
83Jesse Anthony (USA) Rally CyclingRow 82 - Cell 2
84Danny Pate (USA) Rally CyclingRow 83 - Cell 2
85Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team0:16:16
86Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Etixx - Quick-Step0:16:41
87Caleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin0:17:45
88William Barta (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman0:17:58
89Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 88 - Cell 2
90Chris Putt (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 89 - Cell 2
91Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 90 - Cell 2
92Michael Thompson (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 91 - Cell 2
93Logan Owen (USA) Axeon Hagens BermanRow 92 - Cell 2
94Jake Kelly (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 93 - Cell 2
95Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 94 - Cell 2
96Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff Team0:18:05
97John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 96 - Cell 2
98Ben Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 97 - Cell 2
99Michael Mørkøv (Den) Team KatushaRow 98 - Cell 2
100Toms Skujins (Lat) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 99 - Cell 2
101Jacob Rathe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b MaxxisRow 100 - Cell 2
102Owain Doull (GBr) Team WIGGINS0:18:31
103Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie0:18:40
104Christopher Williams (Aus) Team Novo Nordisk0:21:52
105Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 104 - Cell 2
106Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 105 - Cell 2
107Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
108Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension DataRow 107 - Cell 2
109Christopher Latham (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 108 - Cell 2
110Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 109 - Cell 2
111Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team KatushaRow 110 - Cell 2
112Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo NordiskRow 111 - Cell 2
113Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension DataRow 112 - Cell 2
114Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team SkyRow 113 - Cell 2
115Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Mark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension DataRow 115 - Cell 2
117Ryan Anderson (Can) Direct EnergieRow 116 - Cell 2
118Pierrick Naud (Can) Rally CyclingRow 117 - Cell 2
119Michal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
120Evan Huffman (USA) Rally CyclingRow 119 - Cell 2
121Stephen Clancy (Irl) Team Novo NordiskRow 120 - Cell 2
122Patrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro CyclingRow 121 - Cell 2
123Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team KatushaRow 122 - Cell 2
124Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Dimension DataRow 123 - Cell 2
125Bryan Nauleau (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 124 - Cell 2
126Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 125 - Cell 2
127Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 126 - Cell 2
128Xabier Zandio (Spa) Team SkyRow 127 - Cell 2
128Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 128 - Cell 2
130Alex Peters (GBr) Team SkyRow 129 - Cell 2
131Erik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff TeamRow 130 - Cell 2
132Joseph Lewis (Aus) Holowesko-Citadel Racing TeamRow 131 - Cell 2
133Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team WIGGINSRow 132 - Cell 2
134Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team KatushaRow 133 - Cell 2
135Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team SkyRow 134 - Cell 2
136Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 135 - Cell 2
137John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling TeamRow 136 - Cell 2
138Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension DataRow 137 - Cell 2
139William Routley (Can) Rally CyclingRow 138 - Cell 2
140Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha0:22:00
141Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team0:22:17
142Julián Arredondo (Col) Trek-Segafredo0:22:32
143Wouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:22:58
DNFPeter Kennaugh (GBr) Team SkyRow 143 - Cell 2
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Sprint 1- Port Huaneme, km.73
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team WIGGINS3pts
2Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Sprint 2 - Carpinteria, km.135.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Andrew Tennant (GBr) Team WIGGINS3pts
2Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Finish - Gibraltar Road, km.167
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step15pts
2Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo12Row 1 - Cell 3
3George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo9Row 2 - Cell 3
4Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team7Row 3 - Cell 3
5Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman6Row 4 - Cell 3
6Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin5Row 5 - Cell 3
7Lachlan Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis4Row 6 - Cell 3
8Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team3Row 7 - Cell 3
9Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team2Row 8 - Cell 3
10Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling1Row 9 - Cell 3
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Mountain 1 - Potrero Rd summit, km.7.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling3pts
2Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 2 - Westlake Blvd summit, km.21.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team5pts
2Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling4Row 1 - Cell 3
3Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman3Row 2 - Cell 3
4Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team1Row 3 - Cell 3
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Mountain 3 - Casitas Pass Rd summit, km.121
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling3pts
2Oscar Clark (USA) Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team2Row 1 - Cell 3
3Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Mountain 4 - Gibraltar Road, km.167.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step15pts
2Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo13Row 1 - Cell 3
3George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo11Row 2 - Cell 3
4Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team9Row 3 - Cell 3
5Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman8Row 4 - Cell 3
6Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin7Row 5 - Cell 3
7Lachlan Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis6Row 6 - Cell 3
8Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team5Row 7 - Cell 3
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Young riders
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman4:37:29