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Tour of California 2017: Stage 6


Race overview:
Distance: 24km
Start location: Big Bear Lake
End location: Big Bear Lake


Welcome to live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California stage 6. Racers will tackle a flat 24km individual time trial at Big Bear Lake, in what could be the GC contenders’ last opportunity to make a difference in the overall classification before the stage 7 finale.


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Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California stage 6 time trial up at Big Bear Lake.

Today is the day that could decide the overall classification. There has been a lot of talk about this time trial during the week. 


It is 24km on an out-and-back course that is completely flat. The major challenge will likely be that Big Bear Lake is located at more than 2,000 metres of altitude and the air the riders will be breathing in is quite thin.


The first rider is set to start the day's event at 4:04pm local time - Martin Velits (Quick-Step Floors).


Excuse me, that is 4:04pm EDT (1:04pm for those in California).


Overall race leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) will close out the time trial, riding off the start ramp at 3:16pm local time.


Today's course will begin in the village of Big Bear Lake. It does not take the riders around the entire lake, but rather brings them into the town of Fawnskin on the opposite side of the lake where they will turn around and head back to Big Bear Lake for the finish line.


And Velits is off!


The main talk about the time trial has not been the course. Most of the riders (especially those who live at sea level) are concerned about the altitude.


Our Cyclingnews reporter Ted Burns is on the ground in Big Bear Lake and he has assured us that at 2,000 metres the air is indeed very thin.


Lawson Craddock (Cannondale-Drapac) is next to go. He was in good spirits this morning and has a lot of confidence in his teammate Andrew Talansky.


"I gave guys about an hour head start so maybe I can pull some of that time back today. I'm just hoping to walk away with fresh legs to defend the leader's jersey tomorrow because we are really hoping that Andrew can take it today, and we have faith in him."


To refresh your memories, here is a list of the top 10 overall after stage 5:


1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 19:47:57
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:06
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 00:00:25
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:44
5 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 00:00:49
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:01:02
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:14
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:31
9 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky 00:01:34
10 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:50


Although the overall contenders won't be fighting it out on course until later in the stage, there are still some very talented individual time triallists about to start. One such rider is Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac), who is sitting in the start house waiting for his queue to go in about six more minutes.


Interestingly enough, Cyclingnews' Ted Burns told us that Bora-Hansgrohe was not taking interviews this morning. This is the team of overall leader Rafal Majka and world champion Peter Sagan. They did say, however, that (outside of the team's GC ambitions with Majka) we should expect to see a strong individual performance from Maciej Bodnar.


Bodnar is 47:35 down in GC and is set to start his time trial in a few minutes.


Rafal Majka is probably the biggest mystery rider in this time trial today. He will aim to defend his small lead of six seconds to runner-up George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo).


But other notably strong time triallists like Talansky, Bookwalter and Boswell will try to overtake him as they hunt the yellow jersey.


Majka told the press following stage 5 on Mt. Baldy that,


"Tomorrow I have to go in a breakaway, no? But alone."


"I have some seconds, and 24km is not easy, but it is a little bit different the time trial when you start 24k at 2,000 metres. It should be a little bit different."


Phinney just rolled off the starting ramp, a familiar place for the American time trial champion.


Stage 4 winner and double-day breakaway rider Evan Huffman (Rally), also tipped Bodnar for the win today.

But the most talked about rider ahead of this time trial has been 2015 US time trial champion and stage 5 winner Andrew Talansky.


He is being touted as the favourite to win the time trial and possible even assume the overall lead. He currently sits in fourth place 44 seconds behind Majka.


If he doesn’t succeed in pulling back enough time to Majka today, he could end up moving up enough to at least stand on the overall podium as he is only 38 seconds behind runner-up George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and 19 seconds behind third-placed Ian Boswell (Team Sky).


"Rafal is a great time triallist. You've seen the rides he's done in the Vuelta, the Giro and the Tour. You can't underestimate that," Talansky told Cyclingnews’ Pat Malach in an interview after stage 5 on Mt. Baldy.


"They call it the race of truth. Tomorrow I have no doubt we'll both go out there and give everything we have, and whoever ends up on top, ends up on top. But I don't think by any means can you underestimate what Rafal can do tomorrow."


BMC Racing Brent Bookwalter is also a strong American time triallist. He is currently in sixth place overall, a minute down. He had a very strong ride on Mt. Baldy in stage 5.


He told Cyclingnews' Ted Burns this morning that, "I feel good, ready to go. I've been focussed on these two days, yesterday and today. I'm ready to do it. I'm a little far behind. It would take something spectacular to unseat the guys ahead of me - Andrew and Majka.


"But you know bad days happen, especially at 2,000 metres, and really good days can happen for me too, so I'm planning a good day and we'll see what shakes out."


Riders are starting to race across the finish line in Big Bear Lake. Filippo Ganna (UEA Team Emirates) has the fastest time so far at 28:48.


Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) just came in with a quick time of 29:40, good enough for fifth place so far.


US time trial champion Taylor Phinney (Cannondale-Drapac) has just stormed across the finish line in 29:03 it slotted him in second place behind Ganna, but he has since been bumped down to third by Martin Elmiger (BMC) who finished in 28:52. Ganna still leads.


Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) has just rolled up to his team bus and is about to start his warmup. He has a lot riding on this time trial today.


And Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) has finished two seconds slower than Ganna with a time of 28:50. His team along with several other riders tipped him as the winner today. 


Ganna is sitting quietly in the hot seat at the finish line in Big Bear Lake. It could be a while before anyone tops his time of 28:48.


The course around Big Bear Lake might be flat but it does have a lot of corners, twists and turns, making it rather technical.


John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) just finished his time trial in 30:24, and is sitting in 15th place.


Rally has two riders set to start with Matteo Dal-Cin and stage 4 winner Evan Huffman. This team has had an exceptional week of racing putting riders in the breakaway on the more challenging stages with Huffman and Rob Britton, who attempted to solo his way to the stage 5 win on Mt. Baldy but was caught by the GC contenders on route to the finish line. 


Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors) is on the start ramp. He was also in yesterday's breakaway and might be feeling that effort in his legs today.


Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is also sitting in the starting house, and will begin his time trial in five minutes.


Marcel Kittel (Quick-Step Floors) has just finished with a time of 29:13, good enough for seventh place so far.


Tom Bohli (BMC) has slotted in with the fourth fastest time - 28:55


Ganna is surrounded by journalists as he sits in the hot seat. The Italian does not speak English, so they're waiting for a translator to arrive.


If you're also following the Giro d'Italia, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) made it four victories on stage 13. Catch up with the full report, results, photo gallery right here.


Peter Sagan is on course and looks quite smooth. He's spent some extra time training at altitude ahead of the Tour of California, well-prepared for a day like today. 


Over at the Giro d'Italia, Team Sky announced Geraint Thomas has abandoned and could not start today's stage 13. He is recovering from a crash on stage 9.


His Team Sky teammate Jonathan Dibben just unseated Ganna from the hot seat at the Tour of California stage 6 time trial. He covered the 24km course in 28:27.


Rob Britton (Rally) is on the start ramp. He has been in the breakaway during the last two stages - finished second on stage 4 and was caught on the final climb up Mt. Baldy in yesterday's stage 5.


He is a strong time triallist. Most notably, he was second in the stage 5 time trial at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge and finished third overall. He will be looking to post a good time today.


Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished strong with 29:32. He told us this morning that he was excited to start today's stage. 


"I think a lot of guys think sometimes that it's a chance to go for themselves and everyone always has a chance here. It's a good course. I haven't been at altitude, so it is going to be over the limit for me. I'm hoping to use this and Dauphine's time trial as a mock up for the Nationals."


Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin) just finished with the fifth fastest time of 28:54


Evan Huffman, stage 4 winner, just finished in 11th place with a time of 29:11


Peter Sagan just crossed the line in 28:50 and slots into third place. 


A very strong ride by the road world champion, Peter Sagan, but it is not surprising. Sagan won a revised 10.6km time trial and took the overall race lead at the Tour of California in 2015.


Interestingly, Big Bear Lake has hosted stage finishes in the 2010 and 2012. But the town was supposed to host a time trial in 2015 when a snowstorm forced event organizers to have to revise the stage and host it at Magic Mountain Six Flags instead.


More from the Giro d'Italia - If you haven't listened to our latest podcast, check it out right here: Giro d’Italia: Will Dumoulin keep the climbers at bay? - Podcast


The GC riders are steadily setting off from the starting ramp. Brent Bookwalter is on course and Lachlan Morton is on the ramp but he had a rough start with a dropped chain.


Lachlan Morton is struggling at the side of the road to fix his bike. 


He was re-started his time trial on a road bike.


Andrew Talansky, stage 5 winner, is on the start ramp, and Lachlan Morton is his rabbit. He is looking for a winning time trial today, and hoping to assume the overall lead from Rafal Majka.


As a reminder, here is the overall classification heading into today's time trial:

1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 19:47:57
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:06
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 00:00:25
4 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:44
5 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 00:00:49
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:01:02
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:01:14
8 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:31
9 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky 00:01:34
10 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:50


Bookwalter is looking very strong, sixth overall, he is looking to move up the GC ranks today.

Talansky is on course. He currently sits in fourth place 44 seconds behind current leader Rafal Majka.


George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is now on course. He is only six seconds behind Rafal Majka. He is not only worried about moving up the ranks but also about not losing places today.


He spoke with Cyclingnews' Pat Malach following Mt. Baldy.


"Talansky and Brookwalter are still within reach, and I think I'm faster than the two young boys [Morton and Boswell], but Majka is an unknown quantity to me.


"In fact, I don't think I've raced him head to head in a TT. I got my first top 10 in a WorldTour last race, but that also had a 15 minute mountain in it, and it's a pancake out there tomorrow.


"It's not really my forte, but it's not like I'm trying to beat [reigning world champion] Tony Martin or something like that. I need more time than I have over Talansky. I'd need a minute and a half, minimum."


Race leader Rafal Majka is on course.


Lachlan Morton has gotten off his bike again and is having more trouble with his bike. Off the starting ramp, his drive chain looked jammed. He switched to a road bike with a disc wheel but that also gave him trouble, so he has switched back to the TT bike. These mechanicals have cost him a lot of time in this crucial time trial.

Hot seat rider Jonathan Dibbens told Cyclingnews' Ted Burns, "It's the first time trial I've done this year. It's the first effort at altitude. We are bloody high up here. You feel OK for a minute and then you begin to fight and you have to fight all day."


Maximillan Schachmann (Quick-Step Floors) moved into third place ahead of Peter Sagan with a time of 28:48.


Bennett looks smooth on course as he hugs the inside line of the twisting, flat roads.


Talansky hit a road drain through a corner and although he bobbled slightly, he is out of the corner and still riding strong.

Even though Morton has changed bikes twice on course, Talansky has still not caught and passed him. They started with two minutes between them.


Team Sky's Ian Boswell is in third overall and is trying to pull back time to Bennett and Majka.


Talansky is taking the corners tight and is pedalling at a quick cadence.


Majka has just passed the turnaround in Fawnskin.


Talansky is not far behind Morton and could very well pass him before the finish. It's been a bad day for Morton.


Robert Gesink is finishing now on his road bike. He started on his time trial bike and so he must have had a problem out on course.


Bookwalter is finishing with the new second fastest time of 28:34


Bookwalter is hunched over his bike, trying to catch his breath after that big effort.


We have received word that Rafal Majka's halfway split is only 19th fastest of the day. If that is the case, his overall lead might be in jeopardy. 


Lachlan Morton is finishing now. He lost so much time with mechanicals and bike switches. He finished with a time of 30:22. He will be disappointed with that.


Talansky is finishing now. In third place 28:43. Enough for third place so far.


Dibbens is looking like he might win this time trial today.


Boswell, Bennett and Majka are still on course.


Boswell comes in with a time of 29:26


Talansky and Bookwalter are sitting beside each other watching the finish line and waiting for Bennett and Majka to cross the line.

Bennett crosses the line in  28:45.


Talansky did not put as much time into Bennett as everyone thought he would. He looks quite impressed with the LottoNL-Jumbo rider.


Majka is the last on course. There has been very little information on his ride so far, so everyone is watching and waiting to see how fast he has gone today.


Majka is rounding the last corner and on his way to the finish line.


Majka finishes with a time of 29:26. It looks like he has kept the yellow jersey by a very slim margin.


Jonathan Dibben (Team Sky) has won the time trial today with a time of 28:27. A great ride for the young rider. His first pro win with Team Sky.


We stand corrected! George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) has indeed taken over the yellow jersey fro Rafal Majka. He will start stage 7 with a 35-second advantage.


Stage 6 brief results:


1 Jonathan Dibben (GBr) Team Sky 00:28:27
2 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:07
3 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:16
4 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:18
5 Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:21
6 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:00
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:23
8 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:00
9 Martin Elmiger (Swi) BMC Racing Team 00:00:25
10 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:27

General classification after stage 6


1 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 20:16:48
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:35
3 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:36
4 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:45
5 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 00:01:00
6 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:01:54
7 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky 00:02:12
8 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:02:15
9 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 00:02:20
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:14


While all eyes were on Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) for the time trial win today, George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) was the most underestimated.


Bennett's performance has launched him into the overall lead by 35 seconds.


George Bennett said a few words following the stage, thanking his teammates for their support.


"At the halfway point I lit it up and kept pushing. I went really deep and just held it. I saw the crowds at the finish cheering and thought maybe I had done something good. 


"The boys have ridden their hearts out for me all week. Even if I was only going for a podium I would still have gone full gas to pay them back for their support."


Thank you for following our live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California stage 6. Join us tomorrow for the seventh and final stage, a 124km race from Mountain High to Pasadena.


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