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Tour of California 2016: Stage 6

Welcome to stage 6 of the Amgen Tour of California - the men's 20.3km individual time trial in Folsom.

Start times  |  Start list  |  Map and profile

Close to go time now. #Wiggins https://t.co/CIldTZWkbP

@OfficialWIGGINS Fri, 20th May 2016 19:46:52

Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage from the Tour of California. We're underway with stage 6, the 20.3km Folsom time trial.
 

Whereas the women traversed the course in team formation, the men have to do it all on their own.

Erik Baska (Tinkoff) was the first rider off, but in four minutes we'll see Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), then Bradley Wiggins chasing him one minute later.

Bets on who will set the fast early time?

Our man Pat Malach was scouring the team buses this morning to find out how the men are feeling after two big days in the saddle.

He grilled Jim Ochowicz (BMC GM) on the team's overall prospects:

[Expecting to be in the overall lead at the end of the day?]

"We hope so, but there are no guarantees in this game. We’ve got three guys in contention in the GC in the top 10. A lot is going to change for sure. The top 10 positions are going to be scrambled in this time trial. We hope we’ll be on the top, but if we’re not we’ll have to keep fighting to get there."
 

Let's look at the GC as it stands so far:

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 24:01:45
2 Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:22
3 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:37
4 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:40
5 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:43
6 Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman 0:01:01
7 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
8 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team
9 Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling 0:01:12
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:15

In the green jersey competition, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) has a lock on it with 38 points over race leader Alaphilippe.

Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) gets to keep the mountains jersey for another day as there are no climbs today.

Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman) leads the young rider standings over his teammates Ruben Guerreiro and Tao Geoghegan-Hart.

Powless is a strong time trialist and should hold onto the white jersey today.

Wiggins is chasing Cavendish around the course today - will he catch the Manxman? We'll see at the first check, 10km in.

Tinkoff's Nikolay Trusov is off for his time trial - he's been working diligently for Sagan this week and should be cruising fairly easy today.

Meanwhile, Oscar Gatto is not taking it easy - he's passed Matthew Brammeier.

Oscar Clark (Holowesko-Citadel) is our next rider down the ramp. The young American spent quite a bit of kilometers off the front on stages 2 and 3. We'll see what he has left for the time trial.

Bobby Julich is Clarke's guest directeur sportif for the Holowesko team. He's given Cyclingnews his picks for today:

"Well, emotionally it would be Taylor Phinney. I think Rohan [Dennis] is gonna be pretty hard to beat. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alaphilippe is right there because he’s obvious on good form and he can time trial as well.

"The X-factor is what attitude Bradley Wiggins is going to bring into this time trial. I don’t know if he’s going to go full gas. Obviously he’s here on a different program than we saw in 2014, with him preparing for the Olympics in Rio. But the field isn’t that deep with real time trial specialists."

We've heard Mads Pedersen has won the stage in the Tour of Norway.

It was an exciting stage in the Giro d'Italia today, too - if you misesd it, you can watch our video highlights.

So Gatto is the fastest time at the first check. Wiggins came through a distant 42 seconds back - we heard he had a problem with his aero bars.

So Cavendish got lucky - he wasn't passed by Wiggins, but he is dead last at the moment after the first check.

Here are the rapidly evolving first time check standings:

1 Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) 14:07
2 Michal Kolár (Tinkoff) 14
3 Erik Baska (Tinkoff) 28
4 Joseph Lewis (Holowesko-Citadel) 32
5 Martijn Verschoor (Novo Nordisk) 32
6 John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare) 35
7 Christopher Williams (Novo Nordisk) 38
8 Christopher Latham (TEAM WIGGINS) 42
9 Bradley Wiggins (TEAM WIGGINS) 42
10 Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) 49

Hah! A coasting Brad who looks like he has a gentleman's agreement not to take Cav. About 30 secs at half. #amgentoc https://t.co/72sdm4vWEt

@swatch76 Fri, 20th May 2016 20:22:17

Bobby Julich continued in his analysis of the favourites for today:

"I think Rohan is my favourite, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what these young kids from Axel’s team can do [Axeon-Hagens Berman], because they’ve impressed the heck out of me, and I think the heck out everybody so far.

"It will be interesting to see six days into a stage race what they can do against this field in a time trial.

[Especially Powless?]

"Yeah. And I guess he lives right here, so it’s time to shine for them, and that’s where you see if he’s a good rider or a great rider. And so far he’s been a great rider. But this is kind of one of those exams you have to pass. Being good in one stage or another is different from being dominant in a time trial six days into a stage race against these guys.

"But it’s been fun being around these races again and seeing old friends and learning knew names, Like this Nielson Powless. Obviously he’s on everyone’s radar right now."

Tinkoff's Michal Kolar has set the quickest early time, coming in at 27:25. 

But Gatto comes through to knock his teammate down a peg, 34 seconds quicker with 26:54.

Bets on the winning time today? Send your guesses to me via Twitter @cyclingnewsfeed.

10 riders have come through so far:

1 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team 0:26:54
2 Michal Kolar (Svk) Tinkoff Team 0:27:25
3 John Murphy (USA) UnitedHealthcare  0:27:39
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) TEAM WIGGINS 0:27:57
5 Erik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff Team 0:27:58
6 Christopher Williams (Aus) Novo Nordisk 0:28:06
7 Matthew Brammeier (Irl) Dimension Data 0:28:37
8 Christopher Latham (GBr) TEAM WIGGINS 0:28:56
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 0:28:56
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data 0:29:36

It's quite a different day today for Wiggins, who won here in 2014. You can look back on some images from that day in our gallery.

But his focus has changed dramatically from the road to the track as he looks to add to his Olympic tally in Rio.

Andy Fenn (Sky) snuck in with the fastest time, just a second quicker than Gatto to push the Italian out of the hot seat.

A Team WIGGINS representative said Wiggins really wanted to go for the win today, but he hit a hard bump on a bridge and snapped his aero bar. He gutted it out and finished.

Wiggins did manage to catch Cavendish toward the end, and they played a little cat and mouse game, much to the chagrin of the commissaires.

Alan Marangoni (Cannondale) just pipped Fenn's time at the line - he's into the hot seat.

Oh and now Andrew Tennant has eclipsed them both, setting a very good 26:23 to take the best time.

Jelly Belly's Ben Wolfe is setting a very fast time at the first check, 28 seconds faster than Tennant's time there.

The bottom of the standings right now are chock full of sprinters: Eisel, Wippert, Farrar, Renshaw, Cavendish. These guys know exactly the pace they need to go to make the time cut and don't do a single watt more.

We asked BMC manager Jim Ochowicz if the GC men are more motivated than other time trial specialists.

Here's what he had to say: "They are fully motivated. We came here to win the race. That’s been the goal since day one and we’re not giving up yet. We’re close, and with the time trial, I can’t say that we’re not good at time trials. We prepare for it, so we’ve got the technical background and the preparation and the training to deliver something today. At the very least I think we can win the time trial in terms of the stage, and whether or not we can make up 40 seconds or a minute, that’s a whole ‘nother discussion."
 

The race is a good one for BMC's Taylor Phinney:

Ochowicz says, "For Taylor this is part of his Olympic prep. He’s not in contention for the GC, but he wants to put in a good ride because this is what he does; he’s a time trailer and he’s gearing up for the Rio Olympics. So this is a test on home turf on a nice course that is not very technical, so he can just open the motor up and let it go."

Team WIGGINS might have not gotten the win with Sir Bradley, but Owain Doull is scorching this course - he's through the check with 13:04, 25 seconds quicker than Wolfe.

Wolfe comes in with the fastest time - 25:50. Great riding by the 22-year-old from Jelly Belly.

It was terrible for Jelly Belly to lose Lachlan Morton to that crash on stage 3, but if Wolfe can get a good result today that will be consolation for the team.

We have a new lantern rouge: Chris Putt of Jelly Belly was a distant 5:13 from his teammate Wolfe.

We'd nearly forgotten that we have the world champion in our midsts today - but Vasil Kiryienka reminded us by setting the fastest time over Doull by 11 seconds at the check.

And Owain Doull has come through for the new fastest time - 25:21 - we're edging closer and closer to breaking that 25 minute barrier.

We've got Direct Energie's Brian Nauleau through without a TT bike - that hurts. 29:19 for him.

Toms Skujins is setting out with a blue skinsuit clashing with his bright green helmet.

Meanwhile, Caleb Fairly finished the last TT of his pro career.

Paddy Bevin set the third quickest time at the check - the New Zealand time trial champion is on song today.

Markel Irizar came in with the second fastest time - good ride for the Basque rider.

Kiryienka's in with the fastest time! 25:00! But Phinney has gone even faster at the first check.

Taylor Phinney has Martin Velits in his sights. He just blasts past the Etixx rider as if he was a weekend warrior.

Phinney had already passed Maarten Wynants, and now is chasing down Michael Morkov for four minutes. We don't think he'll get that far.

Marco Haller (Katusha) came in the same straight with Zdenek Stybar (Etixx) but neither rider is threatening to win the stage today.

Our top 10 remains the same, with Kiryienka holding a solid lead on Doull but we have half the start list still to come.

Ben King is down the ramp. We spoke to his teammate Wouter Wippert after his race, and here's what he had to say:

"I have a one-word answer: Windy!

"It’s actually a really fast course, and before you now it you’re back. The wind is kind of good, because it’s a little but uphill after the turn around and you have a tailwind, so it’s a little but easier. So the way back is fine. It wasn’t too bad. I’ve had worse in a TT."
 

Wow! Phinney's smashed it! New fast time at 24:36.69

Holowesko's Andrei Krasilnikau comes in 1:24 down on Phinney. Meanwhile, Danny Pate cruises in well down.

Can this be right? Soren Kragh Andersen is quicker than Phinney at the first check! The Giant-Alpecin rider is on fire.

Peter Sagan is on course, as are all of our riders, but he's not going after the win like he did last year. 

Kragh Andersen on the other hand is clearly going flat out.

Soren Kragh Andersen, 21, was the break out rider of last year's Tour des Fjords, where he won a stage. It earned him the contract with Giant-Alpecin. He's been U23 TT champion of Denmark, so it's a specialty of his.

Most courageous rider Toms Skujins comes in with a good ride, 9th best.

Andersen is being blown around the course, and much lighter than Phinney he's at a disadvantage in the gusty breeze.

Tom Boonen slotted into 10th, while Krists Neilands (Axeon) moved into 8th. But Andersen is on his way home.

Andersen comes through looking pained - he had to really fight on that second half and couldn't quite make it. He comes in 13 seconds slower than Phinney.

Andersen passed so many guys along the route that we have a moment to take a breather.

Huffman, our mountains leader, said before the race today that he's tired from his efforts the previous days. "But it’s been nice to be in the breakaway the last few days.It’s a good course for me. I really like it, and I know it really well because it’s close to my house. I might try and save some energy today and not go 100 percent. Tomorrow is going to be a really key stage for the KOM jersey, and that’s my main focus right now.

[Another day in the breakaway then?]

Yep. That’s the plan."

Oronte and Zandio sailed through the line but we got no times from them. 

Sagan looked like he was taking it fairly easy, but he came in 7th fastest - 25:43.

A pair of Jelly Belly riders come through before Ben King cruises through just a touch faster than Sagan.

King's time was good enough for 7th.

There's still quite a ways to go in the field today, most of our GC contenders are doing their final warm ups.

Neilson Powless, the best young rider, was upbeat earlier:

"Actually the legs feel pretty good. I got a lot of good sleep last night, so I’m feeling really confident.

I lnow that there are a lot of really strong time trialists right around my spot – just under me and then just above me as well. I think there could be a lot of change ups in the overall standings. Hopefully by the end I will have moved up a few spots, but it could go either way honestly."

Powless won the Redlands time trial in heavy rain, but it looks like the weather has held up so far.

"It looks like we might have some rain in the forecast for this afternoon, so it might be an exact imitation of Redlands, which hopefully will give me a bit little more confidence because I’ve had good success in conditions like that."

 

Powless' teammate Geoffrey Curran has come in with a strong time - 25:17, good for fourth.

Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) is on a strong ride today - he's fourth fastest at the check.

Five-time African TT champion Daniel Teklehaimanot is on the course now. He's put in some brave attacks this week but hasn't been able to make a difference. But a good time trial today could move him up the rankings. He needs to make up 3:45 to Alaphilippe.

Sicard slots into 9th, one second slower than King.

We missed him, but Petr Vakoc (Etixx) came in with the 10th best time, just two seconds off Sicard's time.

Travis McCabe is being caught by Tiago Machado, but they're trading blows at the moment. They need to be careful or they'll be relegated for drafting.

Machado knows this, his teammate was booted from the Giro d'Italia for blatant drafting.

Machado has left McCabe behindf or good.

Lawson Craddock and Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) kick off our block of GC contenders.

Meanwhile, Robin Carpenter (Holowesko) has made the top 10 at the first check.

Greg Van Avermaet put in a good effort for a sprinter - he's just outside the top 10 in 12th.

Remember that 'quiet American' riding for LottoNl-Jumbo? Alexey Vermeulen is anything but quiet today. He's taken third best at the check.

Vermeulen has gone one second faster than the world champion. Granted, Kiryienka is recovering from injuries, but this is a great ride from the neo-pro.

Andrew Talanksy's Cannondale is decked out in red and white stripes, with a head tube riddled with stars. He's a real sight for the American fans.

The Australian champion Rohan Dennis is on course now - if anyone can top Phinney, it's this man.

Vermeulen faded a little, he's 7th fastest at 52 seconds.

Powless is off on course now, his team director Jeff Louder was on pins and nails:

"I’m really hopeful for him. We’re getting into new territory with Nielson. He’s raced this many days but he’s never raced this hard and gone this deep. We’re taking it day by day, and I’m proud of him as it as, and just want him to go out there and enjoy it and do the best he can.

"It might rain but it doesn’t look like there’s that big a chance, so hopefully it stays the same for everybody. The weather doesn’t affect him too much, especially if it’s the same for the guys he’s concerned about. He’s pretty unflappable. He’s very mature for his age, but at the same time he is young, so we’re trying to put much pressure on him. We’re happy how he’s doing and hope he can just continue and keep enjoying the sport."
 

Powless' teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart is on a quick time, he's faster than Vermeulen, but woah - Jurgen Van Den Broeck is on fire!

He's 27 seconds faster than Phinney, but Lawson Craddock is also in there, at 19 from the Belgian. 

Those were times at the intermediate check, but can they hold them to the finish?

Van den Broeck is blasting past what we can only guess is his 8 minute man, Maxime Bouet.

It seems as if the wind is dying down, which will help our later starters. Talansky has slotted in at the check on equal time with Van den Broeck

George Bennett is looking very concentrated on the start house - the Kiwi has to give it everything here.

Our race leader will be underway momentarily - can Julian Alaphilippe defend that lead?

A reminder of his challenge:

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 24:01:45
2 Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:22
3 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:37
4 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:40
5 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:00:49
6 Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman 0:01:01

If the check was right, Van den Broeck has exploded. He's fourth, 25:06.

 

Lawson Craddock is coming in - he's done well - he slots into fourth place just behind Kiryienka.

Here come Talansky!

New best team! 24:33 for Craddock.

Haimar Zubeldia is coming in - losing 1:11 to Talansky in the stage.

Rob Britton should be coming in soon. The Rally rider was setting a solid time at the check, 48 seconds adrift of Talansky.

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) just finished 7th best at 25:11 - setting good marks for Bookwalter to come.

Powless is setting strong times - he's only 19 seconds down on Talansky.

Rohan Dennis is through the check, only 8 seconds slower than Van den Broeck and Talansky.

New best time for Rohan Dennis!

24:16 for the Australian champion.

Bookwalter came through the check 22 seconds behind Talansky, losing a few seconds on Powless. Alaphilippe is on the same schedule as the American from BMC.

Here comes Powless - he's looking at a top 10 - 25:08, good for 8th.

Laurens ten Dam is yet to finish. The Giant-Alpecin rider was 40 seconds adrift of Talansky at the check.

Here comes Ten Dam - he's outside the top 10 so far...

25:36 - 18th place. LImiting the losses, as we say.

The skies are getting darker and darker ahead of Rohan Dennis, but the roads are staying dry for now.

Bookwalter comes in and he's done a good ride  - just a second quicker than the world champion to take fifth for now - 24:59.

George Bennett (LottoNl-Jumbo) will be our next finisher.

Bennett was 56 seconds down at the check, but race leader Alaphilippe was looking good, 22 seconds down, same as Bookwalter at the split.

Bennett lost 1:53 at the line - a disappointment for the Kiwi for sure.

Stetina was also losing a lot of time at the intermediate check - 1:01 down.

The American's style is far more laboured than Alaphilippe.

Stetina comes through the line, and he's way down - 26:41.

Hot on his heels is Alaphilippe!

25:01! He's in for 8th place = will he keep the jersey?

Alaphilippe will keep the race lead, while stage winner Rohan Dennis moves into second. Bookwalter holds onto third, while Talansky and Powless will round out the top five on GC after today.

1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:24:16
2 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:00:17
3 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:20
4 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:33
5 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:43
6 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky 00:00:44
7 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 00:00:44
8 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:00:45
9 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Team Katusha 00:00:49
10 Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman 00:00:52

Here's the GC:

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-Step 24:26:46
2 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:16
3 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:38
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:47
5 Neilson Powless (USA) Axeon Hagens Berman 0:01:08
6 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:01:17
7 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:01:17
8 Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 0:01:24
9 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:01:45
10 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Team Katusha 0:01:48

BMC said they were here to win the overall, and they've stacked the odds against Alaphilippe: Dennis is just a few time bonuses out of the lead, and Bookwalter not that much farther behind at 38 seconds.

Talansky raised Cannondale's hopes significantly with that performance today. Though he'll be gutted to miss out on the stage win, on home turn, in that garish champion's jersey.

Alaphilippe really put in a great performance. He's not known as a time trialist, but he's clearly motivated to keep the jersey.

Thanks for following today - we'll be back tomorrow for the scenic trip from Santa Rosa up the coast and back again. Coleman Grade! We expect to see you out there!

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