Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour of California, a 157km race from Ventura to the summit of Gibraltar Road.
Tour of California - Race Hub
Tour of California - Start List
A well-balanced Tour of California - Preview
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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of stage 2 of the Tour of California.
Stage 2 marks the first day for the climbers.
The 157km race starts in Ventura and finishes on the summit of Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County.
The riders are lining up at the start of the race located at the Ventura Pier, just a few feet from the Pacific Ocean.
There are some 7,700 feet of elevation gain along today's route, and four category 3 ascents before the Hors Categorie climb on Gibraltar Road.
The climb to the finish line on Gibraltar Road is an average 8 per cent grade, with sections that are much steeper.
There are also two intermediate sprints today.
The climb up Gibraltar Road was used in the 2016 edition of the Tour of California, where Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step) won the stage ahead of Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo).
Stetina launched an attack on the steeper slopes but the Frenchman caught and passed him in the final few hundred metres near the top as the road flattened out.
Stetina told Cyclingnews that he is hoping to win the stage this year.
"Gibraltar is the hardest climb of the race, and it's a mountaintop finish, so it's ultra-important. It's where the climbers, like me, need to take as much time as they can. It's also flat until then, and you can hide and sit in all day and then have an explosive final on the last climb.
"It's great to know the climb since we've already raced on it. It's the defining climb of the race: iconic, packed with fans and it's beautiful and photogenic.
"Anyone who wants a shot at the overall needs to be there, ready to play, and it's early in the race. Gibraltar is a major target for me, again, and I hope that I can go one better than the last time around."
Read the full story here.
Quick-Step Floors' sprinter Fernando Gaviria is currently wearing the leader's jersey after winning stage 1 on Sunday in Long Beach.
Gaviria won the bunch sprint ahead of Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Gaviria picked up 10 seconds in bonuses for the stage win. He leads the overall classification by four seconds ahead of Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), who secured a six-second bonus.
Yesterday's breakaway rider Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), secured two intermediate sprints for three seconds each, which was enough to put him in third place overall, four seconds behind Gaviria.
You can review the top 10 overall below.
General classification after stage 1
1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors 03:02:13
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:04
3 Tanner Putt (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:06
5 Andrei Krasilnikau (Blr) Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources
6 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Dimension Data 00:00:09
7 Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors
8 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:10
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
10 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
The peloton are riding a 6km neutral start.
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is getting mechanical service at the back of the peloton.
It's a beautiful day today. A few clouds but mostly sunny. Slight breeze and 67F currently.
As the race left the pier in Ventura, there were even a few surfers out enjoying the day.
The kids from Lincoln Elementary School are out front of their school to send off the peloton.
There are a lot of people lining the route through Ventura, too. It's nice to see so much support from this community for the start of stage 2.
Cavendish has worked out his mechanical problem and is riding his way back up to the peloton.
And they're off! The neutral start is complete and the peloton is now officially racing.
There are already three riders off the front: Adam De Vos (Rally), Ruben Companioni (Holowesko) and Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare).
152km remaining from 157km
The peloton isn't too concerned about these three riders and have let the gap drift out to over a minute, just 5km into the 157km race.
The gap is now 1:20
The race is headed through a flat agricultural area, but the stage is not entirely flat on route to Gibraltar Road.
There are four category 3 ascents before they reach the base of Gibraltar Road, which is a Hors Categorie climb to the finish line.
There is still a lot more racing between now and then.
149km remaining from 157km
Gap is now up to 1:35
Quick-Step Floors are leading the bunch
Gap has gone up again - 1:55
Over two minutes for the breakaway of three riders.
Clarke, Companioni and De Vos are off to a good start, 2 minutes head of the Quick-Step-led field as they leave Ventura.
The gap is stretching out to 2:55
The three riders will hit the top of the first KOM in about 35km, located on Balcom Canyon Road.
Until then, they're racing along a relatively flat route with a tailwind.
This is a good breakaway with all three riders having respectable seasons so far.
Ruben Companioni (Holowesko) won the first stage and then the overall title at the UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage Race in April.
After finishing 3rd in two stages, Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) was leading the overall classification at the UCI 2.1 five-day Tour of Taiwan in March. He lost the lead on the final mountain stage by two seconds to Japan's Yukiya Arashiro, and finished second overall.
UnitedHealthcare's director Sebastian Alexandre told Cyclingnews that they are looking for any opportunity they can to get in the breakaways this week, but their GC rider is Gavin Mannion.
"In the small US races we can definitely go for general classifications," Clarke told Cyclingnews ahead of the Tour of California after finishing a US block of racing that included Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic.
"At the Tour of California, though, the majority of the team, including myself, will look more for opportunities."
Read the full story here.
134km remaining from 157km
The gap has grown to 2:40
Adam De Vos, a Canadian racing for the American team Rally Cycling, won stage 3 at the UCI 2.HC Tour de Langkawi in March, where he led the overall classification for two stages.
131km remaining from 157km
Gap is out to 3 minutes
Here are a list of the KOMs for the stage today:
Balcom Canyon- cat 3. - 49.7km
Ojai Road - cat 3 - 67.5km
Casitas Pass - cat 3 - 107.8km
Greenwell Avenue - cat 3 - 141.3km
Gibraltar Road - HC - 157km
Today's stage will no doubt separate the climbers from the rest of the peloton.
The big news from team dining last night was that Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) made the rare move of taking a dessert.
He must be feeling confident!
Adam's twin brother, Simon, is currently leading the Giro d'Italia after nine stages. Adam will no doubt want to share some glory by bringing home the leader's jersey from California.
This year's Tour of California is sprint-heavy with the likes of world champion Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe), Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step), Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin), but there are a number of strong contenders ready to fight for the overall classification on the climbs and time trial this week.
Defending champion George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is not here, as he is currently racing at the Giro d'Italia, but there are his teammates Sepp Kuss and Neilson Powless ready to pick up where he left off last year.
Powless was also an early animator on Gibraltar in 2016. He spoke with Pat Malach at the start of the stage.
"Yesterday was pretty easy most of the day. You can kind of always tell. I think I’ve got pretty good form for today. I feel pretty sparky and ready to rock.
"I won’t be attacking from the base but hopefully can save it for the last 2km if my legs are that good. Hopefully I can put on a show at the end."
Runner-up last year Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) is back and will look to make his mark on the final climb today.
2013 winner Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) is back to try and win a second title this year.
His teammate Paddy Bevin spoke with Pat Malach today.
"Hopefully it turns into a climbing competition on that last climb. I think it’s one of two chances to make a separation.
"Tejay and Brent [Bookwalter] are both really strong time triallists, so we want them to get up - of course we want to win the stage - but worst case, we want them to be close enough to take back time in the TT."
117km remaining from 157km
Clarke, Companioni and De Vos have pushed their lead out to 3:25
Team Sky is back at the race with a strong team led by Tour de Romandie runner-up and Colombia Oro Y Paz winner Egan Bernal, an exciting up-and-coming GC rider to watch.
He will have support from Tao Geoghegan Hart, eighth overall last year.
Geoghegan Hart told Hagens Berman Axeon manager, Axel Merckx, that he had been training with Bernal ahead of this race, and that Bernal is very strong right now.
Here's what Merckx told Pat Malach at the start of today's stage.
[Riders to watch from Axeon?]
"I think Will Barta, Sean Bennett and Ivo Oliveira. They're going to see how long they can hang on and where they’ll end up. Those are the guys, and the other guys are going to try and help them.
[Favourites for today?]
"Bernal. That’s the number 1 favourite. My heart says Neilson Powless, and I think he’ll do well, but I think Bernal is the favourite now."
110km remaining from 157km
The three leaders of today just made the turn onto Balcom Canyon Road for the first KOM of the stage.
Their gap is holding at 3:40
109km remaining from 157km
The Balcom Canyon Rd KOM (Cat 3) is at km 49.7.
109km remaining from 157km
The gap has extended to 4 minutes as the breakaway riders head toward the climb.
The climb up Balcom Canyon Rd is just shy of 2km with an average grade of 4.7 per cent.
But there are sections that kick up to 11 per cent, which will give the legs a sting.
This is the first climb of the Tour of California and so will be important for points toward the mountain classification.
The results of KOM on Balcom Canyon Rd
1 - Companioni
2 - De Vos
3 - Clarke
The breakaway crests the top of the climb and they are surrounded by lemon and orange trees, along the road side, so common in this California area.
102km remaining from 157km
Brendan Rhim (Holowesko) has crashed in the field. We will provide you with an update shortly.
We've just received notice that Rhim has made his way back up to the main field.
97km remaining from 157km
The breakaway riders are working well together with a common goal of getting to the base of Gibraltar ahead of the field.
They are now 5km away from the first of two intermediate sprints. This sprint is located in Santa Paula.
1km to the intermediate sprint where there are 3, 2, and 1 second time bonuses up for grabs.
De Vos jumps and takes the sprint. Companioni and Clarke did not respond, and seemed to have just let him have it.
Mupu Elementary kids are out to cheer the race.
86km remaining from 157km
The wind is picking up, although it's hard to tell which direction. It's swirling around and a little bit gusty as the race approaches the second KOM on Ojai Road, a cat 3 at the 75.5-km mark.
Quick-Step is still leading the main field.
Some of the other GC riders looking to do well today are Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), and EF Education First-Drapac's Lawson Craddock and Dani Martinez.
84km remaining from 157km
The gap has grown slightly, out to 4:05, as they approach the next KOM in Ojai Road.
The climb on Ojai Road is category 3 and four kilometres (4%).
500 metres to the top of the climb, the three riders are still together.
80km remaining from 157km
KOM - Ojai Road
2- De Vos
The gap is 4:30
De Vos' director at the Rally Cycling team, Pat McCarty, spoke with James Raia at the start of the stage about his time competing in the stage race.
"I did the very first one (2006) and 2007, 2009, 2011-12. I had the KOM one year (2011) and some top-10s that same year."
McCarty competed in the event for four teams, Phonak, Slipstream Chipotle, Ouch and Spidertech C-10.
On the race changes since 2006, McCarty said,
"The main thing I see is that it's gotten a lot more respect on the international calendar. Not only do the big teams come over here with proper tradition and they take it very seriously."
Rally Cycling's have a couple of overall contenders here with Evan Huffman, a double stage winner last year, and Rob Britton, who recently won the Tour of the Gila and won the Tour of Utah last year.
At the front of this race: Companioni, De Vos and Clarke are coming off the descent from Ojai Rd.
They will get a short reprieve on the twisty downhill before flatter terrain that leads toward the third KOM on Casitas Pass, located at 107.8km.
67km remaining from 157km
The gap has grown to 5:15
The main field won't want to give these three riders too much time, as all three have had good moments in the mountains during their careers.
Clarke finished 15th on the Gibraltar Road climb, in the 2016 edition, 1:20 behind stage winner Julian Alaphilippe.
He has not contested the KOMs today or the intermediate sprints, and is likely saving his energy for the final climb.
Bora-Hansgrohe have one rider on the front of the field, setting pace, while Quick-Step Floors lines out the majority of the team behind.
Michal Kolar is the Bora-hansgohe rider at the front of the field at the moment, setting the pace. The team will be working for Rafal Majka today, who finished second overall last year behind George Bennet (LottoNL-Jumbo)
Fernando Gaviria, the current overall leader after winning stage 1 yesterday, is sitting comfortably in the field.
The gap has dropped to 3:15
Companioni, De Vos and Clarke are starting the third category 3 climb of the day, at the bottom of Casitas Pass.
The gap is dropping, largely because of the work of Michal Kolar (Bora-Hansgrohe), but now Ian Stannard (Team Sky) has moved forward to help Kolar reduce the gap further.
BMC is also moving forward to help with the chase.
Those three teams are working for Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Egan Bernal (Team Sky).
Companioni wins the third KOM ahead of De Vos and then Clarke. The Holowesko rider has won all three KOMs so far.
They have one more category 3 KOM at Greenwell Avenue - 141.3km, and then the Hors Categorie climb to the summit of Gibraltar Road.
48km remaining from 157km
The three breakaway riders are losing time rapidly, as the gap has dropped to 2 minutes, largely due to the efforts of Team Sky's Ian Stannard at the front of the field.
The main field is descending in a long line, off of the Casitas Pass.
The breakaway will soon hit the second intermediate sprint at Carpinteria, 123km.
De Vos is taking his turn on the front, followed by Companioni and then Clarke, but the gap is down to 40 seconds, and they might not make it to the start of the fourth climb at Greenwell Ave, 141km.
It was the rest day at the Giro d'Italia today. Defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) said that he has to climb well if he wants to defend his title.
Read the full story here.
Ian Stannard (Team Sky) is putting in a huge amount of work to close the gap to the breakaway, working to put Egan Bernal in a good position to race for the stage victory on Gibraltar Road.
Almost the entire BMC team is lined out behind Stannard.
Behind Stannard, and then BMC, are LottoNL-Jumbo, who are working for Neilson Powless today.
31km remaining from 157km
The breakaway is trying to make it to the fourth category 3 climb at Greenwall Ave, and after that they will descend toward the bottom of Gibraltar Road.
De Vos picked up the full bonuses at the intermediate sprint, winning both sprints today.
De Vos is taking his turn on the front, followed by Clarke and then Companioni. The three are still working together but the gap is down to 45 seconds.
Hagens Berman Axeon is now at the front of the main field, but the peloton spans wide across the road.
Team Sky, BMC, Bora-Hansgrohe, Mitchelton-Scott and Rally Cycling are lining out their teams, setting up their climbers for any potential attacks over the final category 3 ascent, that leads into the base of Gibraltar Road.
Adam Yates is sitting comfortably behind his Mitchelton-Scott teammates, and will be one to watch on the final climb today.
24km remaining from 157km
The breakaway have turned onto narrower and rougher roads.
They are 2km from the top of the Greenwall Ave KOM.
The roads are very choppy, as they start the climb, with a lot of debris on the sides of the roads from recent mud slides.
The peloton is now on the narrow roads, too, the riders have squeezed their way onto the climb, but they seem to have slowed down.
Clarke tried to attack but De Vos responded quickly and Companioni caught up to the pair.
The three riders are only holding 35 seconds ahead of the field.
Companioni took the KOM points on Greenwall Ave, ahead of De Vos and Clarke.
Team Sky are back on the front of the peloton, pulling the field down a brief descent before they reach the base of Gibraltar.
The Hors Category climb on Gibraltar Road is 12km with an average 8 per cent grade, but sections much steeper midway up, before it flattens out in the final 200 metres.
18km remaining from 157km
De Vos is leading the breakaway, 6km to go to the base of the climb.
The main field is right behind the breakaway. De Vos makes one more attack but its futile as the field is about the make their catch.
Trek-Segafredo is lined out at the front for their GC rider Peter Stetina.
Stetina was second on Gibraltar Road two years ago. He attacked on the steep sections part way up and got a gap, but as the road flattened out near the finish line, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step) caught and passed him for the stage win.
He will no doubt want to win today.
BMC is setting a pace so fast that the field is in single file.
12km remaining from 157km
The field is at the base of the 12km final climb.
The road starts to steepen and BMC and Team Sky are dominant at the front.
The field has dwindled as riders are getting spit out the back of Team Sky's pace.
Egan Bernal (Team Sky) is sitting on the back of his teammates, but so are Tejay van Garderen and Brent Bookwalter (BMC).
Quick-Step's Fernando Gaviria, overall leader, is still there, but he likely won't last too much longer.
There has been a crash on the climb, as riders are touching wheels.
Gaviria and Peter Sagan (Bora) have pulled out the back of the race, and are letting the pure climbers have at it today.
Mitchelton-Scott has Jack Bauer on the front of the field, setting the pace for Adam Yates.
He is followed by teams BMC, Sky, LottoNL-Jumbo
Tao Geoghegan Hart is taking the lead with Sky teammate Sebastian Henao, as Bernal sits and waits patiently for the steeper sections.
The main field is sweeping around a righthand bend on the climb. The tarmac is brand new, after the wildfires in the area, and the riders are exposed to the hot sun.
There are sections as steep as 14% coming up, and that is where the strongest climbers in the field will want to make their moves.
Geoghegan Hart is still on the front. He's been training with Bernal ahead of this race and he said his teammate is in prime form to win today.
The field is down to roughly 40 riders.
The pope is running along side Tao Geoghegan Hart!
The tempo is so fast that the 30 riders are in single file.
Unexpectedly, Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo), has gotten dropped from the select group of climbers.
Bernal is in fifth wheel, behind his own teammate Henao, and two BMC riders.
Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data) has also fallen off the fast pace on the climb.
Geoghegan Hart and Henao are still setting the tempo on the front, while Bernal sits five riders back.
In the front are roughly 15 riders.
Rafal Majka (Bora) is keeping an eye on Bernal, just two riders behind and watching Team Sky
The riders are passing Cookie Corner, and there's Phil Gaimon, running along side the riders!
Rally's Rob Britton is losing contact with the back of the front group.
Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and Eisenhart (Holowesko) have also been dropped.
Geoghegan Hart is almost single-handedly tearing the group apart on Gibraltar Road.
There are 4km to go, but the steepest part of the climb happens at 2km to the finish line.
A gap is opening on the back of the group and Stetina has been dropped.
Sean BEnnett (Hagens Berman Axeon) is still there. Adam Yates (Mithcelton-Scott), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL), Brandon McNulty (Rally), Rafal Majka (Bora), Bernal, Henao and Geoghegan Hart (Sky).
Majka sitting behind Geoghegan Hart and looks like he is ready to pounce.
Geoghegan Hart is riding so hard at the front of the field that he has split off the front and has several metres of a gap.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is also still in the front group
2.5km to go and the riders will hit the steepest section soon.
McNulty is having the ride of his life today, and looks very strong in third wheel on the climb behind Geoghegan Hart and Majka
The Colombian has a 10 metre gap.
LottoNL's Tolhoek is chasing Bernal
Fans are running alongside Bernal as he builds a big lead on the rest of the climbers.
Tolhoek is a few seconds off the back.
Bernal is looking very strong. He has twice looked over his shoulder to see if anyone is following, but there is no one there.
He is seated and pushing steadily on his pedals around the switchbacks near the top of the climb. He needs to build as much time as possible before the road flattens out.
Bernal has 1km to go
Tolhoek has a solid gap for second place, but he will not likely catch Bernal today.
Rafal Majka has attacked the chase group and Adam Yates has responded.
Bernal is on his way to the finish line, passing the road barriers, within the final 200 metres.
Egan Bernal (Team Sky) wins stage 2 on Gibraltar Road at the Tour of California.
Rafal Majka (Bora) second, Adam Yates (MItchelton) third and Tolhoek (LottoNL) fourth.
Tour of California stage 2 - top 10
1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 04:14:00
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:21
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:25
4 Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:30
5 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) UAE Team Emirates
7 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:40
8 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:50
9 Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:59
10 Rúben Guerreiro (Por) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:01
Stage winner and overall leader - Egan Bernal (Team Sky)
"The last part was the most important part of the race. In the final two kilometres, I attacked and arrived alone. I'm so happy because my team did a great job.
"When I attacked I did my own pace. I looked at my watts, my pace, and I needed to take control of the climb."
General classification after stage 2
1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Sky 07:16:13
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:25
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:31
4 Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 00:00:40
5 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
The peloton will assemble Tuesday for stage 3 at the Amgen Tour of California. The race is 197km starting in King City and finishing in Monterey County at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Thank you for following along with our live coverage of the Tour of California. Join us again tomorrow, and for the remainder of the week, as we bring you commentary from each stage.
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