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Tour of California 2017: Stage 3

Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California, stage 3 from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay. It's a bit different from the usual jaunt down the coast, and includes one climb along the route as they head inland.

 

 

Hello and welcome back to our coverage from the Tour of California. The riders had a long transfer down to Morro Bay from San Jose, but are just underway.

The race was delayed somewhat by a puncture for a Cofidis rider - the officials waited until he rejoined before dropping the flag. They're underway and immediately five riders have gone on the attack.

It's Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Sean Bennett (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis), and Romain Gioux (Team Novo Nordisk) who have the gap - the peloton seemed more than happy to let them go, and they've got one minute.
 

Correction: it is Danny Pate (Rally Cycling), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk), Sean Bennett and Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) who are out ahead.
 

Pate, Lozano and Bennett are all on the same time - 17:56 behind race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and won't be a threat to the GC today unless the peloton does a major go-slow.

The peloton had a nice departure from Pismo Beach today - it's one of the best starts in the race, actually. They amass on the pier and then roll away from the Pacific Ocean. There was a big crowd out to see them kick off the stage.
 

The peloton takes a right turn and will parallel the coast for a few miles before turning inland. There's a stiff breeze coming off the water today, making for a bit of a crosswind.

Although there's a category 3 climb on the route today, sprinter Travis McCabe is expecting to contend for the win on this stage. He missed out in the opening stage where Marcel Kittel won the sprint, but thinks Morro Bay might be his place in the sun:
 

"Today is a little longer," he told Cyclingnews. "It looks like a windy day but it will mostly be head/head cross throughout it. We are predicting a sprint finish and we know what the last couple of kilometers look like and we know where to be coming into it. It's a good finish for me today. It suits me better than the fist day."

The peloton is practically on the beach at the moment, the road going by the ocean so close they could probably cast a fishing line if they were hungry.

The gap has blown out to 4:30 now as the peloton is in no hurry to expend their energies. There's no crosswind slaughter like Quick-Step tried to inflict on stage 1. Once they head inland, the trees and hills will block a lot of this breeze.

179km remaining from 192km

A bit about our breakaway riders, who now have 5:05 and a nice tailwind blowing them down the coast:

Danny Pate moved from Team Sky to Rally last season, after 7 years in the big leagues. Zurlo was on UnitedHealthcare in 2015, but this is his first time racing in the USA. He's got one pro win - a stage in the Tour of Qinghai Lake last year.

Ben Wolfe was in the breakaway on stage 1, and lives in Greenville, SC - he doesn't have any pro wins yet, but has a bunch of criterium victories and was on the podium in the U23 TT national championships a few years back.

Sean Bennett is in his first year with Jelly Belly. He's a NorCal native, and won the mountains classification earlier this year at the UCI 2.2-ranked Tour de Bretagne. He's a former junior national MTB champion.

171km remaining from 192km

The cross-tailwind continues to propel our breakaway quintet along, as they speed past strawberry and artichoke fields. They continue to edge out an advantage, now holding 5:25 on the peloton, led by Bora-Hansgrohe.

It's not terribly warm by Southern California standards, but it's a perfect day for bike racing - a comfortable 62F (16C) and sunny. The wind will make it feel a bit chillier for those not racing their bikes.

167km remaining from 192km

Let's take a look at the overall classification, which was shaped largely by yesterday's climb outside of San Jose.
 

1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 7:29:14
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:02
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 0:00:14
4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:16
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:48
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
9 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
10 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirate

The race is by no means over yet, Rafal Majka only has two seconds on George Bennett. Then, in addition to Boswell and Morton, there's a bunch of riders at 48 seconds. With the time trial at altitude and Mt. Baldy still to come, the race is still wide open.

Yesterday's stage over Mt. Hamilton was pretty exciting, but we were bummed to see Toms Skujins, who won a similar stage finish in 2015, crash out on the descent. He really wanted to get back on his bike, but was so dazed his team pulled him out of the race under their concussion protocol.

157km remaining from 192km

Wow, the leaders have been flying along the course today - they have 5km to go before the first sprint of the day in Orcutt.

The Giro d'Italia resumed after its second rest day, and whoo-boy what a stage it was! Time trials aren't usually that exciting, but Tom Dumoulin just crushed it today, taking the race lead by 2:23 over Quintana.

153km remaining from 192km

Leaders are faster than the fastest schedule today, 1km from the sprint.

The leaders just rotated through the sprint, so while we wait for the results, can we just say, wow Geraint Thomas? He took big chunks of time back in the Giro d'Italia time trial after his horrible crash on Sunday. Read about it here.

Sprint 1 - Orcutt, km. 40.5
1. Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
2. Sean Bennett (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
3. David Lozano (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk

The leaders now have to contend with some rolling hills as they head out of Orcutt, due east to the canyons. It's not a classified climb - there's only one on today's stage and that's Tepusquet Road at km. 84.

Peter Sagan might be world champion, and the undisputed king of the Tour of California with one overall victory and 15 stage wins, but that won't exempt him from doing some work today to protect the lead of his teammate Majka.

Rafal Majka and Sagan moved across to the Bora team after Tinkoff decided to stop funding his WorldTour squad. The Polish rider was third in the 2015 Vuelta, won the mountains classification in the Tour de France last year, and then won an Olympic bronze medal in the road race. He's had a quiet start to the year, but is clearly on track for this year's Tour de France, and an overall win here in California would be a good morale boost.

141km remaining from 192km

The leaders are heading up into the hills, and are still on a very quick schedule today, though the incline is working against them. Their lead is down to 5:25 now.

Rolling along averaging 45kph for the first hour is beginning to show on our breakaway - they're slowing down and losing time steadily - now 5:15 as they head onto still more rolling hills.

The leaders pass through Garey as they head toward Sisquoc. The odd sounding town is named for the Sisquoc river, which has its confluence in Foxen Canyon. They'll be taking Foxen Canyon Road toward the first KOM.

As for Tepusquet Road, we have no idea why it's named that.

Today's finish is going to be one for the sprinters, most likely, but it's not a flat, fast, pure-sprinter finish. There's a little kick up, and it could complicate the finish for Marcel Kittel.

Jonas Vangenechten (Cofidis) said he looked at it in Google Maps. "It's tricky the last 2km - a little bit up hill also so we are going to try but we'll see. We are here with a lot of climbers so for the sprints it is only me and Geoffrey Soupe."

If you missed yesterday's action on Mt. Hamilton and Metcalf Rd, check out the video highlights here.

124km remaining from 192km

The gap is down to five minutes even as the breakaway heads onto Tepusquet Road.

Our intrepid reporter and van driver Pat Malach has taken a stroll after an 8-hour day behind the wheel yesterday to check out the stage finish today. He said they turn right from the coast with about 500m to go, then there's a short but very steep ramp for about 50m.

Then, it levels out but is still an uphill drag all the way to the finish line. Jens Voigt is calling it for Degenkolb, but Pat is saying Sagan.

I'm going to put my money on McCabe.

Quick-Step Floors are putting their chips on the Kittel square - they've decided that it's time to help Bora out a bit, and have come to the front to pull back the breakaway. They've brought it down another 10s to 4:50.

Quick-Step has a few other options for today's finish, too - Matteo Trentin is quick on the punchy sprints, as is Jack Bauer.

The initial ramp of the finishing straight for the uphill finale at @AmgenTOC https://t.co/pN6Hu2Gp53

@Pat_Malach Tue, 16th May 2017 19:53:21

As you can see from the photos, it's nice and sunny in Morro Bay - we certainly don't miss the old days of the February Tour of California, with all that rain and cold. 

117km remaining from 192km

The five leaders, Pate, Bennett, Wolfe, Lozano and Zurlo, have 4:30 now and it's coming down quicker now that Bora have some more helping hands.

Let's not forget about Katusha's Alexander Kristoff for today's finish. His team did a lot of work on stage 1 and he didn't get the win, so they'll want something to bring back to Europe.

We're told that there is a place that's famous for its cinnamon buns in Morro Bay, but we don't have a name. A quick Google search, and it seems that every place in the town claims to have the best ones.

But shhhh don't let Kristoff know, his team thinks he's overweight.

Uphill all the way to the line from about 500 meters out. @AmgenTOC https://t.co/TnPE7p90JC

@Pat_Malach Tue, 16th May 2017 19:54:39

The leaders are on a long, gradual ascent moving toward the category 3 summit, and they're steadily losing time - 4:15 now.

Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), fifth overall, is predicting a sprint but not a full peloton.


"Usually it will be a sprint finish, but the only question is how big the group is that will sprint for the finish. Sure, there is a lot of wind, and they expect even more towards the end of the day.

"There are always opportunities, so we have to be really focused. I think I’ve been finishing more or less in the same village. Not exactly the same finish, but that was quite hectic, so it will be hectic final, for sure."

 

110km remaining from 192km

The leaders are officially on the climb now, it's a shade over 2km long.

The leaders are on a fast, very twisty and technical descent through the trees, while behind the peloton are taking their time with the chase. They've got them at 4:15 and holding.

They pass Blazing Saddle drive (insert your best joke from that movie).

108km remaining from 192km

Mountain 1 (Cat. 3) Tepsuquet Rd, km. 84

1. David Lozano (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
2. Ben Wolfe (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
3. Sean Bennett (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
 

Well, the high average speed of the first hour sure did do an about-face in the second one. The hill took a bite out of the peloton's chase, it's back out to 4:45. Just hold on another 10kms, guys - feed zone is coming! Hopefully the soigneurs have a snickers and a coke for you.

We're missing Mark Cavendish at the Tour of California this year. The 10-time stage winner here is still recovering from mononucleosis and isn't sure he'll be back to form in time for the Tour de France.

96km remaining from 192km

The breakaway is through the feed zone with 4:10 on the field. As they pause for lunch, check out our Giro d'Italia coverage.

Thibaut Pinot was hoping to take the maglia rosa, but instead ended up losing a little bit of time, dropping to fourth. Read what he had to say here.

 

95km remaining from 192km

Good morning to our Australian audience. A little recap for the crew Down Under - we've got a stage for the strong sprinters on the loop from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay. A break of five went away almost immediately today, and have been maximum 5:45 ahead of the field, but are being slowly reeled in by Bora-hansgrohe and Quick-Step. It's down to 3:40 now.

We spoke to Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) before the start today, and he wasn't concerned about the category 3 climb they've already tackled:

"It’s not the profile that rally scares me, it’s just the wind is rather strong. It seems like it’s going to be headwind, but there are just a few bends in the road where it could turn into a cross wind, but we’re just really not going to know. That’ll scare pretty much everyone more than the climbs," he said.

It was a tailwind/cross-tailwind on the way out, but they've found the headwind now. It probably won't turn out like the stage to Sacramento, where Quick-Step tried to shatter the bunch.

"That was much less wind then there will be today," Rathe said. "We knew it would be cross winds in a few spots, but it just wasn’t strong enough. But today it’s gonna be hit or miss whether it’s going to turn out to be a crosswind long enough."

91km remaining from 192km

The headwind is really blowing now, and the predictions that the wind would increase have been borne out. The leaders are persisting, but their gap is shrinking to 3:15 now as they've passed the midway point.

Morro Bay, the host of today's finish, has seen the Tour of California come through numerous times, but they became a host city for the first time last year when they held the start of stage 4. Coincidentally, Peter Sagan won that stage. Will the town have more luck in store for the world champion this year?

The headwind has been compounded by a grinding uphill road, and our leaders are struggling to keep the gap from falling - 3:10 now.

Now is the time when we play 'guess the catch' - what kilometer will they be caught, and who do you think will win? Tweet to us @cyclingnewsfeed.

And also welcome to our Kiwi audience. Your man George Bennett is looking solid today, just two seconds off the overall lead.

One can't discount the 27-year-old - he was 10th in the Vuelta a España last year his best finish in a Grand Tour by far.

New Zealand has three riders in the race here in California - Bennett, Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors) and Greg Henderson (UnitedHealthcare). Meanwhile, Australia has eight riders in the race!

One of them is Wouter Wippert (Cannondale-Drapac) who's been heartbreakingly close to a stage win in the Tour of California a couple times but hasn't managed a win yet. He told Cyclingnews this morning that today's stage "should be better [for me] than Sacramento", but expected some rough times. "I think especially today because the wind is going to be nasty so we will see."

76km remaining from 192km

As the peloton compose themselves and prepare for the final push, the five riders out front have pulled out some more time - out to 3:30.

There is no cover at all for the riders as they head through the open fields.

So far, the Sagan doing the work to keep the break in check is Juraj, not his more famous brother Peter. The rainbow band jersey is tucked behind the Quick-Step train.

73km remaining from 192km

The peloton are heading into a head/cross-headwind so no echelon antics. But, there will be one section where a crosswind could come into play - there's a turn in the course before and then after the San Luis Obispo sprint, which comes at 28.5km to go. If anyone wants to split the bunch it'll be there.

The breakaway seems to be strengthened by the presence of the TV cameras, and have added another handful of seconds to their advantage on the bunch.

Quick-Step are now on the front with green jersey place holder Kittel behind. Majka leads that classification but the German gets to wear it for now.

@Cyclingnewsfeed is it correct that Skijuns is being flown back to Europe b/c for clavicle surgery in US is too expensive? #amgentoc

@bjberesford Tue, 16th May 2017 21:08:34

Yes, according to his team, the insurance wouldn't cover his care so he has to have surgery back home.

66km remaining from 192km

Danny Pate must have gotten some gel on his handlebars because he's dousing his brake levers with his water bottle.

The five leaders have 3:22 now with 66.5km to go.

Toms Skujins was on television to thank all of his fans for their well wishes. His social media accounts have been inundated after the world saw his horrifying crash, he says he's not allowed on his computer or phone to reply and he's got to stay out of the sunshine so he can recover faster from his concussion. Of course, the interview took place in the sun...

We're starting to see some angles form in the peloton - Quick-Step are on a diagonal but they aren't putting anyone in the gutter yet.

A message from @Tomashuuns following his #AmgenTOC crash for those that weren't watching @NBCSNCycling. https://t.co/tEi5JPMwja

@Ride_Argyle Tue, 16th May 2017 21:20:57

Not only do the riders have that headwind to deal with, but they've also got a bit of a false flat now. They'll be pointed in this same general direction until 54.5km to go, when they take a turn to the right and head due north to Verde. Then it's back to a northwesterly direction to Edna, then due west until they get near highway 101 when they turn North to San Luis Obispo.

The weather station in Nipomo, which the riders passed through a bit ago, shows winds of 22mph coming from west-northwest.

58km remaining from 192km

Though 22mph might be a bit of an overestimate, 10mph is about what the wind speed is for the peloton. The gap is coming down quicker now, to 2:30.

55km remaining from 192km

We have a few national champions in the race today - Miles Scotson (BMC) is Australian champion. Juraj Sagan (Bora) is the Slovakian champ.

Oh dear, George Bennett has a rear puncture, but he's got a quick change and is back in the cars.

Bennett is in the blue most courageous jersey - that was actually awarded to Skujins but when he abandoned, Bennett inherited it.

Of course Greg Daniel (Trek-Segafredo) is here in the US champion's jersey.

You won't see Majka's Polish national champion's jersey because he's wearing the yellow race leader's kit. Pretty sure we saw the cameras swing past Majka stopped for a call of nature, which could be why the peloton has stepped off the gas.

52km remaining from 192km

The five leaders have 2:02 and a little bit more protection from the wind as they roll through some more wooded areas.

Majka is being paced back on after that pee break by his Pawel Poljanski - no panic.

Most pro racers can pee while moving, but with wind like this it can lead to a bit of undesirable blow back so that could be why Majka chose to stop to relieve himself. The roads are straight, wide and flat so the chase is not too frantic.

Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) is back at the medical car, holding on for some aid.

The peloton is steadily chipping away at the gap to the five leaders, making it look so easy that a Quick-Step rider stops for a nature break with a teammate.

US champion Greg Daniel is parked on the wheel of Juraj Sagan, double red/white/blue strips.

It's Sagan's turn to take a break, now he's paced back by Poljanski and Michal Kolar.

So far there's no sign of any attempt to avert the bunch sprint today - no crosswind shredding or attacks from the peloton. It's almost as if they're enjoying a nice holiday in wine country - maybe those weren't nature breaks but stops at a tasting room?

Nate Brown (Cannondale-Drapac) is chasing back on with the Sagan group, while ahead, the leaders are enjoying a small descent.

44km remaining from 192km

What goes down, must come up, and the leaders now are struggling up a small incline that will be causing them pain.

Team Sky are finally coming to the front, but their second sprinter Danny van Poppel isn't on the forward moving train. This could be Viviani's day.

Still no sense of urgency in the peloton as yet another rider stops on the verge to relieve their bladder. But despite the lackadaisical attitude, they're reeling in the five men out front, down to 1:36 is the gap.

Sean Bennett digs into his jersey pocket for some Jelly Belly sports beans - he's much smaller than his teammate Ben Wolfe, and tucks in behind him to get a nice slipstream ride.

Welcome to our live coverage of the Tour of California folks in Perth, Australia! 

The second-placed rider George Bennett is back in the cars again - he had a rear wheel change a while back, he might have stopped again to get a bike or wheel with proper gears.

Antwan Tolhoek, Bennett's teammate, brings him back into the fold again.

Meanwhile, it's still Juraj Sagan keeping the five leaders at a steady 1:32 ahead of the field.
 

It's as if the peloton draws straws in the morning to see who gets to pull behind the breakaway all day long. The short straw went to Juraj today.

We've got another national champion - Yousif Mirza Alhammadi (UAE Team Emirates) is the national champion of the United Arab Emirates. He has a stretch at the back of the bunch.

The breakaway is passing the airport and the windsock shows a block headwind. They're about to make the right turn into the crosswind - but the bunch don't look poised to attack.

And welcome to our readers in Melbourne who just joined in. There are 35.6km left in the stage and the breakaway with 1:10. 

We can't neglect our American readers, so hello to San Francisco, San Diego, LA and NYC.

Work horses Juraj Sagan and Greg Daniel are now being followed by Tiago Machado, the Katusha rider who did so much work on stage 1 only to see Kristoff finish 13th. Let's hope the Norwegian can score a better result today.

33km remaining from 192km

1:00 for the leaders as they head into San Luis Obispo.

5k to the sprint for the peloton.

The breakaway will get to contest this second sprint of the day, then the peloton will get to work reeling them in.

After the sprint, they'll head into the wind for a kilometer or two, but then will turn left and have the wind in their right eye - will we see some echelons form?

Bennett is starting to feel this day-long effort in his legs, he has a little stretch of the hip flexors.

The leaders will see 1km to go for the sprint shortly. Behind, Martin Velits takes up the pace for Quick-Step.

Wolfe leads into SLO, his hands draped over the bars in aero form. Lozano is tucked on the back, but it doesn't look like anyone will fight for the sprint, they'll just roll.

Sprint 2 - San Luis Obispo, km. 164

1 Federico Zurlo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
2 Sean Bennett (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis
3 David Lozano (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
 

Zurlo actually ramped it up before the line, and Wolfe had a delayed response from fourth wheel, but got the two points ahead of Lozano - nobody else bothered to accelerate.

Machado leads the peloton into town, where there are plenty of spectators cheering them through.

Now that we're through the sprint, there's a bit more urgency in the peloton. Another national champ - South African Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg - is tucked well in the bunch. He's an outside chance for the win - the hills would suit his characteristics as a rider.

25km remaining from 192km

The cars are being pulled from the gap behind the breakaway, and the bunch have the five leaders in sight.

But no, your work is not yet done, Danny Pate.

The nature breaks aren't over yet. Jay McCarthy does his on the fly but slows behind the peloton, out of consideration. They are through the crosswinds with no hijinks.

The peloton is clearly waiting for the breakaway to just naturally give in to their pace. They're letting them dangle at one minute.

Again, Majka is coming back through the cars. McCarthy is getting his workout in - training for the Tour de France by getting a few more hard yards into the headwind in. Sitting in the peloton isn't very much work at this pace.

McCarthy takes a brief respite in the mid-pack, then takes Majka farther up.

19km remaining from 192km

Velits takes a pull, and knocks 10 seconds off the lead of the five men out front. He, Greg Daniel, Juraj Sagan and from time to time Tiago Machado are doing 100% of the work still with 19.1km to go.

Just as he did on stage 1, Wolfe has attacked the breakaway. This time, however, he's got Danny Pate to pull him back.

We are hearing that Chris Hamilton (Sunweb) has abandoned.

But Pate finds himself in an impossible position of pulling Wolfe back only to have his Jelly Belly teammate Bennett take off. They've let Wolfe have his TV time.

17km remaining from 192km

It's Wolfe vs. the world right now. It's a long, wide open road with no shelter from the wind at all - not ideal conditions for an attack, but he's making it work. He's got 10 seconds on the chasers, 40 on the field.

The peloton has to navigate some Botts dots at a crosswalk. They're the plague of California cyclists - they're also called cat eyes - hard, plastic domes that make noise when cars come over to alert drivers to pay attention. They all make it past OK.

You'll be pleased to learn that Caltrans is phasing out the botts dots. Turns out they're a nightmare to maintain.

Team Sky are well represented up front as Quick-Step have moved to the back of the bunch. All except Velits, of course.

14km remaining from 192km

QSF might know something we don't. The leader has 50 seconds, with the four chasers in the middle at 25.

While the race speeds past, there's a massive traffic jam on the other side of the highway.

13km remaining from 192km

And the chasers have been caught.

Wolfe is all on his own, the time graphic says 43 seconds but we have a hard time believing that.

Wolfe has taken his glasses off, and he's got them tucked in the back of his jersey neck. Grimacing in pain, he's still churning along.

The headwind has frozen a long line of drool to the side of Wolfe's face as he battles against the chasing peloton.

Majka has a consultation with his teammate Maciej Bodnar - they will want to keep him in a good position in the off chance that short climb creates some gaps.

10km remaining from 192km

Still 10km to go and only 33 seconds for Wolfe. We fear that if the flat road doesn't get him, the ramp before the finish will certainly bring him to heel.

It's still Velits, Machado, Daniel and Juraj Sagan doing the work, they've got Wolfe to 25 seconds with the coast on the horizon 9km away.

8km remaining from 192km

Bora have amassed behind Greg Daniel, then Sky - but behind Sky is Peter Sagan sat on the wheel of Elia Viviani.

8km remaining from 192km

Wolfe has given up. There's a rise and it's just too much - he looks back to see the peloton and says "please, please, just put me out of my misery".

 

Finally, he can go back to where the riding is easier. But just as he thinks he'll get a break, the pace picks up as all the teams start fighting for position. Trek-Segafredo on the Right, Rally on the left, Astana cruising mid-pack.

Cofidis move up the long way on the outside, while Lotto-Jumbo are just sitting smack in the middle. Dimension Data are moving up the left for Janse van Rensburg.

7km remaining from 192km

But still, it's Machado at the head of the field. Here comes Sunweb - they lost one rider today but will be looking to set up Sinkeldam.

6km remaining from 192km

They've turned off the highway and the peloton has turned into a swarming mass.

It's like someone put a stick in the hornet's nest - the fight for position is getting intense. Katusha took up the right side, but the trains have been disrupted elsewhere.

As is their wont, Quick-Step are waiting, patiently. We don't see UHC up there yet even though McCabe was eyeing this finish.

5km remaining from 192km

5km to go and Wolfe is hanging onto the back of the bunch for dear life.

Bora are on double duty, protecting Majka while simultaneously keeping Peter Sagan in position to go for the stage win.

4km remaining from 192km

This is a tense time for the bunch as BMC in the middle start bouncing off Astana - nerves!

Complicating things are the raised reflectors in the center strip.

3km remaining from 192km

Astana have got to work for Breschel.

Or rather De Vreese - he's quick on a finish like this, too.

Trek-Segafredo are moving forward, mixing with BMC, but this is a slow burn, not the full on lead-outs of the Grand Tours.

Here come Cannondale with 2.3km to go.

But finally, Quick-Step are doing their thing - storming to the front.

1km remaining from 192km

Trek have the front with Katusha just behind.

Will it be Degenkolb's day? Here comes Sagan diving the inside of the left turn.

1km remaining from 192km

And a right turn - it's single file now.

UHC is on the front as they hit the hill.

Here comes Sagan

Kristoff is in there, but he's no match.

The World Champion makes it win number sweet 16 in Morro Bay. Majka was in the bunch and will keep the lead.

Taylor Phinney tried to put in an attack in the final straightaway, but Sagan just used his slipstream as a slingshot, and flew past Kristoff's lead-out.

It was a UAE Emirates rider in third, possibly Guardini.

Or rather, Rick Zabel and Kristoff, then the UAE rider.

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 04:53:26
2 Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:00
3 Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:00
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:00
5 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 00:00:00
6 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data 00:00:00
7 Taylor Phinney (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:00
8 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:00
9 Travis Mccabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 00:00:00
10 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:00

There was actually a 3 second gap given to the group with George Bennett, but luckily Majka was behind him so the GC standings remain the same.

Except for Robert Gesink, who cheekily tacked onto the sprinters and gained 3s - chipping a bit off his gap to Lachlan Morton.

Here's the GC after stage 3:
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 12:22:43
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:02
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 0:00:14
4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:16
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:45
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:48
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac
9 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
10 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors

That's it for us today, thanks for reading along. Join us again tomorrow for a cameo appearance from Kirsten Frattini, who's pitching in during her maternity leave. She'll be doing her excellent live coverage of the Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita stage - a tricky one with four classified climbs. It'll be a fun one!

"It was nice to be mixing it up with the big hitters. It feels good to be back." - @taylorphinney. #AmgenTOC https://t.co/BY7KUS366u

@Ride_Argyle Tue, 16th May 2017 23:22:37

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