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Tour of California 2019: Stage 7

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Welcome to the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California, live on Cyclingnews.

 

Welcome back for the final stage of the Tour of California, a 126km dash from Santa Clarita, through the Angeles National Forest and a long descent to Pasadena with three finish circuits. It's probably a day for the sprinters, but you never know!

The riders have one category 3 ascent today on Angeles Forest Highway at km. 64, and two intermediate sprints - one in Acton after 45km and one in Pasadena with three laps to go after 111km.

The women are already out on course, taking the same basic route from Santa Clarita to Pasadena, but without the closing circuits. There is a group of 18 riders who attacked after the sprint in Acton. They've only got 35 seconds over race leader Anna van der Breggen. Brodie Chapman (Tibco) is the highest-placed in the group at 1:47.

It's a nice day for racing, pleasant temperatures around 70 and sunny. There weren't too many fans at the start, but now that the race is rolling in the neutral section there are more spectators.

While it might look like a day for the sprinters on paper, Rally’s Pat McCarty expects a very fast race today, and thinks that some of the GC teams might try to make something happen.

We're sure the riders will be keen to get this day over with. It's been a long race, the longest in the history of the Tour of California, capped with the shorter but tough Mt. Baldy stage.
 

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) leads the race, with Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quickstep) in the points jersey. Davide Ballerini (Astana) has the KOM jersey sewn up, while Pogacar also leads the young riders competition with Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) wearing white today.
 

1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 30:01:56
2 Sergio Andres Higuita (Col) EF Education First 0:00:16
3 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:20
4 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:29
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:41
6 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin 0:01:03
7 Jesper Hansen (Den) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:18
8 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) EF Education First 0:01:22
10 Rohan Dennis (Aus) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:23

122km remaining from 126km

Once the flag was dropped, the attacks flew right away. A big group got some separation, but after some shuffling, nine guys are away with Ballerini in their midst.

Pasadena has hosted four stage finishes in the Tour of California history. First in 2008, where George Hincapie claimed the win, then the next year where Rinaldo Nocentini (remember him?) won the stage.
 

Peter Sagan won here in 2014, and in 2017 it was Evan Huffman. Notably, Pasadena has always been lucky stage 7.

The breakaway includes:
 

Diego Rosa (Team Ineos), Lawson Craddock (EF Education First), Lennard Hofstede and Neilson Powless (Team Jumbo-Visma), Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates), Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo), Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Davide Ballerini (Astana Pro Team), Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Alex Hoehn (USA National Team)

Interesting putting Oliveira in there - it will help UAE not have to control the race as much, but they are patrolling the front.
 

Schachmann is the highest placed at 1:28.

Over in the women's race, Van der Breggen has attacked on the climb to reel in the breakaway on her own, splitting the bunch and pulling 10 riders away on the QOM.

Schachmann's presence is not going to make his breakaway companions happy. There's more chance of them being chased down if he threatens Pogacar's lead.

Right now it's not a concern as the leaders speed through a rural area on flat but bumpy roads. Once the road tilts upward we should see a shake up.

Hoehn has been slaying himself all week going into breakaways, and we're amazed he's managed to get up there again. Cavagna's got to be feeling his legs after his massive 75km solo breakaway to win stage 3. Storer has also spent quite a few kilometres off the front, as has Hofstede and Ballerini.

Over in the women's race, Jasmin Deuhring (Sho-Air/Twenty20) has gone on the attack and is being chased by seven riders: Rooijakkers, Labous, Magnaldi, Moreno, Hannah Barnes, Winder and Hammes are behind, with the race leader just 10 seconds back with Hall, Moolman-Pasio and the rest.

110km remaining from 126km

The men go up a small climb on Sand Canyon Road a nice little hill before a quick descent. The gap has gone out to 1:00.

The women are nearing the QOM, but Winder, Labous and Barnes have lost contact with the five others up front, who have put 40 seconds into Van der Breggen. So far no threat, as Rooijakkers is highest placed at 2:30.

The gap has gone out to 1:40, putting Schachmann in the virtual race lead. CCC Team have come forward to help UAE out with the chase.

103km remaining from 126km

Astana's Blanca Moreno took the QOM in the women's race over Deuhring and Hammes.

UAE are having to do the work alone now, keeping the gap at 1:45. They had to start the race down one man after the UCI suspended Kristijan Durasek for being linked to Operation Alderlass, the Austrian blood doping investigation.

UAE are also leading the Giro d'Italia with Valerio Conti, so despite the suspension of Durasek and the abandon of Fernando Gaviria, it has been a good few days for that team.

95km remaining from 126km

31km done and still a ways to go before the sprint in Acton for the men, while Van der Breggen is having to chase the breakaway in the women's race. The women are on an undulating section of the Angeles forest about 10km from starting their descent down to Pasadena.

It was a hairy finish to the Giro stage today, but in the end everyone got down a damp, tricky descent for a bunch sprint. Caleb Ewan was relieved to finally get a win on stage 8.

Van der Breggen stamped her authority on the women's race and has nullified the breakaway with 46km left to race.

The men's race is status quo, with the gap holding around two minutes and Schachmann in the virtual lead.
 

Over on the women's side, there are two leaders -  Rooijakkers and Hammes - who countered and got a bigger gap of around a minute and growing. They've got a short climb before the long descent to Pasadena.

84km remaining from 126km

Just a few kilometres until the bonus sprint in Acton for the men, while the women crest the last climb.

81km remaining from 126km

Sprint 1 - Acton, km. 45
1. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
2. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo
3. Neilson Powless (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma

Caleb Ewan talks about the pressure he's been under to get another Grand Tour stage since moving to Lotto Soual.

Rooijakkers and Hammes are going for broke on the descent, keeping over minute's lead on the van der Breggen group, but they'll struggle to stay clear on the flat final 20km.

That's the trick with this stage. Though the men's breakaway has a couple minutes in hand, they will need a lot more than that before the descent and final 20km if they want to foil the sprinters.

70km remaining from 126km

The riders are on the long grind to the Angeles Forest, they'll get a feedzone soon before tackling the category 3 ascent.

The actual KOM is only 3.5km long, but the route climbs all the way from the sprint to the top before a 13km descent, then another climb before the fall to Pasadena.

Meanwhile, the women have made it to Pasadena and are heading into the Rose Bowl to start three laps, holding one minute on the field.

Diego Rosa (Ineos) is making his way back to the breakaway after a trip to the convoy. They're heading through the arid landscape - not a homestead in sight.

Unlike the green hills of yesterday's stage to Mt. Baldy, this side of the range is quite a bit drier and brown.

Rooijakkers and Hammes come through the line working well together, but the peloton have the pair in sight.

Back in the men's race, the leaders have opened up a slightly bigger gap as the peloton digest their lunch.

Rosa and Oliveira are a bit off the back of the breakaway in the men's race, as they head up Angeles Forest Highway. Bahrain Merida have come forward behind the lone UAE rider controlling the chase.

Hmmm Jumbo-Visma come to the front of the peloton and pick up the pace. Looks like an audacious attack by George Bennett. He's marked by Morton and Higuita, and there are gaps opening up in the peloton. Pogachar is in the group.

65km remaining from 126km

Looks like 12 riders as a Katusha rider scrambles across. Van Garderen has made it, as has Pernsteiner and Uran. A Cofidis rider and the green jersey Asgreen is in there.

Oh dear oh dear. Mark Cavendish climbs in the team car.

A few more riders have bridged across to the attack by Bennett: a CCC rider and Bora's Grosschartner.

Having Powless and Hofstede up the road will be handy if Bennett can shed some of his companions further up the road. They will surely work for him. EF have Craddock in the move, and Asgreen as Cavagna. Luckily Pogacar has Oliveira up the road because he's got nobody with him in this attack.

Unbelievably, it looks like Bouhanni has latched onto the Bennett/Morton group.

Op nevermind that was the back of the peloton, there's another Cofidis rider in this attack.

The acceleration in the yellow jersey group has brought the leaders' gap down to 45 seconds. Craddock has gone back to help the EF effort behind.

In the yellow jersey group, Bennett attacks again. Higuita is right on it, and Craddock working to bring it back together. They're going so hard they almost hit the TV motorbike.

Higuita and Bennett are going for broke, and only four riders are left chasing with Pogacar in there.

It's only nine left in this group: Four EF riders, a Bahrain-Merida rider probably Pernsteiner, Pogacar, Bennett, a Katusha rider and Grossschartner.
 

The green jersey seems to have been distanced a bit.

With a slight easing, the green jersey rejoins on the descent.

There is still a platform for attacks before the final descent.

In the women's race, the pair who had been ahead were joined by Marta Cavalli and Olga Zabelinskaya. They don't have a big gap, however, and still have one lap to go.

KOM 1:
1. Max Schachmann
2. Neilson Powless
3. Remi Cavagna?

Tour tracker said it was Asgreen who took third, but we know that's not true.
 

The women are in their final kilometre it seems, and Cavalli is trying to stay away solo, but the peloton are bearing down on her.

It's going to be a bunch sprint for the women. Hagens Berman Supermint are leading out.

Valcar's Balsamo takes out the win.

Coryn Rivera bit the barriers in the sprint and jammed up her chain - or maybe it went the other way around.

Van der Breggen seals the overall victory.

Arelenis Sierra (Astana) was second ahead of possibly Leigh-Ann Ganzar (Hagens Berman-Supermint)

The chase in the men's race is closing in on the leaders, just 20 seconds behind.

EF Education First certainly put the pressure on Pogacar, but so far he's in there. The sprinters are at 1:30 - if there are any sprinters actually left in the bunch.

Still nothing from the men's race except time gaps, it seems the chase has joined the leaders, making it 25 riders up front with Rohan Dennis, Jesper Hanse, Simon Spilak, Richie Porte and the green, yellow, polka dot and best young rider jersey holders up there.

42km remaining from 126km

Rob Britton managed to make it across for Rally, too. So far they've only got 55 seconds on the bunch.
 

The Katusha rider was Spilak, who is at the back. EF is leading over a small bump. One more chance for glory with the last unclassified climb.

Women's final results
1 Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Cylance Cycling
2 Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana Women's Team
3 Leigh Ann Ganzar (USA) Hagens Berman-Supermint
4 Chloe Dygert (USA) Sho-Air Twenty20
5 Leah Kirchmann (Can) Team Sunweb Women
6 Lisa Klein (Ger) Canyon-SRAM
7 Elizabeth Deignan (GBr) Trek-Segafredo Women
8 Brodie Chapman (Aus) Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank
9 Tatiania Guderzo (Ita) BePink
10 Sara Bergen (Can) Rally UHC Cycling Women
Final general classification
1 Anna van der Breggen (Ned) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 8:32:34
2 Katherine Hall (USA) Boels Dolmans Cycling Team 0:00:29
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) CCC-Liv 0:01:06
4 Clara Koppenburg (Ger) WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling 0:01:25
5 Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) Canyon-SRAM 0:01:34
6 Brodie Chapman (Aus) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank 0:01:46
7 Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) Rally UHC Cycling 0:01:58
8 Omer Shapira (Isr) Canyon-SRAM 0:02:12
9 Emma Grant (GBr) Sho-Air Twenty20 0:02:15
10 Pauliena Rooijakkers (Ned) CCC-Liv 0:02:28

The Cofidis rider is Jesper Hansen. He's had a solid week of racing and is seventh overall.

39km remaining from 126km

The peloton is being led by Cofidis, who seem to have faith in Bouhanni. They're dealing with a 50-second gap now, and it will be doable. They'll want some cooperation, though. Hagens Berman-Axeon missed the split, and they've got some quick riders.

The leaders get to the last kick and Bennett, keen not to give up hope on the GC, has attacked.

His attack explodes the leading group. It's a fast, open descent then a flat 20km so we should see a regrouping.

Uran has attacked, too - four riders including Asgreen are off the front of a chase of 14 riders. Ballerini is back in the "peloton" at 1:30.

It's a fluid situation on the descent, and now the leading groups are coming all back together. 18 riders left out front.

Looks like Schachmann again and a Jumbo-Visma rider going away with one more Quickstep rider, probably Cavagna. 

Importantly, Pogacar is tucked into the chase group as now another rider clips off the front.

34km remaining from 126km

Hofstede, Cavagna and Schachmann are the trio ahead, with a marginal gap over the Pogacar group.

There is a rather sizeable peloton at 50 seconds now, with an ICA rider tacked onto the back.

It looks like Grossschartner might have gotten away from the EF-led chase group.

The lead trio has but 15 seconds, with four chasers then the yellow jersey group just behind.

It's hard to get a handle on the situation because there are so many groups. But Ballerini has just descended up to the lead group to make it four in front.

Two Ineos riders have attacked off the front of the larder peloton.

It wasn't Grossshartner, it was Ballerini who clipped off the Pogacar group - the polka dot jersey confusing us from the shaky camera work.

24km remaining from 126km

The leaders are pretty much off the descent now, still only a marginal gap, while the peloton is at one minute and being led single-file by Ineos for Halvorsen.

Asgreen has apparently popped away from the chasers, while Cavagna has dropped back from the lead group to pull him up.

Asgreen stands to move up on GC, he's in third at 20 seconds behind Pogacar. A threat to Higuita's second place, EF lead the chase.

19km remaining from 126km

The leading trio are en route to the Rose Bowl, having returned to civilization from the Angeles Forest. No sign of Asgreen and Cavagna yet.
 

Ballerini buries himself at the front, Hofstede pulls through, and Schachmann looks cool as a cucumber.

And there they are! Cavagna has Asgreen on his wheel and they've just about made it across.

We don't have a gap between the leaders and the yellow jersey at the moment, but Pogacar has to be happy that Asgreen is a threat to Higuita's podium position, because the pink-clad team are leading the chase and have ample power to bring this back.

Right now Asgreen is just barely in the virtual lead as Pogacar's group is 20 seconds behind, but there's a bonus sprint coming up at the three-laps-to-go mark.

Even if they're caught, it's a cagey move by Quickstep, who will get over Higuita with the time bonus.

Asgreen is four seconds behind Higuita, correction. The sprint will close him to one second - He's got to take this.

Schachmann tries to get the better of Asgreen but the Dane is so strong. Asgreen gets three seconds. and the peloton is all back together behind them.

14km remaining from 126km

The four leaders now have a reinforced peloton who are sprint-hungry on their heels. Sunweb is leading the chase for Walscheid.

Katusha also take a pull, Rick Zabel must be in the bunch.

Cavagna is amazing, after all that work he still had the legs to get the last bonus second. He's slaying himself to keep Asgreen away.

Bahrain-Merida hit the front for Phil Bauhaus but they're not making inroads into the five leaders' gap. UAE now are forced to do the work.

12km remaining from 126km

UAE are sacrificing their sprinter Philipsen to protect Pogacar's overall lead.

10km remaining from 126km

Cavagna is so strong that the others can't even hold his wheel. Ballerini is the only one to come across. I question this tactic.

Clearly Deceuninck don't believe that this group will stay away together, because Asgreen is such a threat. Instead the stronger rider is going to try for another solo win.

UAE lead the peloton through the home stretch with two laps to go, blasting past Asgreen and his two companions. Two left out front - Cavagna and Ballerini.

9km remaining from 126km

Ballerini has to really fight to hold Cavagna's wheel.

That enormous attack did Ballerini in, and he refuses to help Cavagna any further. Cavagna takes a drink then attacks again, making Ballerini work for it again.

8km remaining from 126km

Now the duo out front are really throwing in the towel...

Looks like a bunch sprint, and Katusha are still on the front, finally giving UAE a break.

Peter Sagan is still in the mix, having made it over the climb.

UAE gives up the front and go back for Pogacar, hand him a bottle and surround him. They then go back to the front to bring this one home.

5km remaining from 126km

CCC Team, Deceuninck and Bahrain-Merida battle for control as they get the bell for one lap to go.

Bottles are being jettisoned as the sprinters get keyed up for the final push.

Travis McCabe is positioned smartly behind the WorldTour trains.

Ineos are a little farther back, with Sagan dead center in the bunch behind them.

This is going to be a flat-out fight for the line. It's a wide-open and long sprint. Halvorsen? McCabe? Sagan? A Dimension Data is up there, too. 

A slowing of the pace brings Novo Nordisk to the fore.

Halvorsen is way down, he'll want to move up but the pace is high behind Deceuninck.

Watch for the white jersey of Argentina champ Richeze in the sprint, too.

It's a messy lead-in to the line

Dimension Data lead into the last turn.

Crash!

Sunweb get control in the finish straight.

One of the UAE riders hit the deck, but it is Walscheid who powers to the win ahead of Peter Sagan.

Pogacar cruises to the line safely to take home the overall win.

The UAE rider is getting medical attention on the finishing straight but seems to be OK.

OK we've learned you cannot trust the commentators because it was Cees Bol, the young Dutchman from Sunweb and not Walscheid who took the win.

Bol fooled us before when he won Nokere Koerse. Philipsen was third.

Here's the top 10 from the stage:


1 Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
4 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
5 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Ineos
7 Travis McCabe (USA) USA National Team
8 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
9 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10 Edwin Avila (Col) Israel Cycling Academy

Here's the top 10 from the stage:


1 Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
4 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
5 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep
6 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Ineos
7 Travis McCabe (USA) USA National Team
8 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
9 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10 Edwin Avila (Col) Israel Cycling Academy

Nicely done to Novo Nordisk's Andrea Peron to take a top 10.
 

This is Bol's first WorldTour win, and the Dutchman is understandably quite excited. He let out a scream of joy at the line, having topped Peter Sagan.

Pogacar allowed himself a two-arm salute as he crossed the line in the peloton.

It's also a nice first WorldTour stage race win for Tadej Pogachar. He finished with 16 seconds over Sergio Higuita, and another young talent Kasper Asgreen in third. Only 17 seconds separated the top three.

Sagan has to be slightly frustrated with that sprint, but it was a mess out there. No one team had control, Sagan's teammates were busy attacking today and the Slovakian champion lacked a little support at the end. He missed out on taking the green jersey from Asgreen, but he will go away from the race with a stage win and a bit more confidence.

Pogacar also takes home the best young rider's competition, while Astana's Davide Ballerini wins the mountains prize.

That was quite a finale to a hard week of racing. EF Education First take home the team prize.
 

Thanks for following the Tour of California with Cyclingnews. We'll be back tomorrow with an important stage in the Giro d'Italia.

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