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With a fantastic performance on the short 10.6km course, Sagan beat van Emden by a massive 15 seconds to take both the stage win and the overall lead in the Tour of California time trial









16.05.2015 @ 00:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days after breaking his drought, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) again confirmed that he is back to his best when he took a hugely dominant victory in the Tour of California time trial. On a short, technical 10.6km that suited him down to the ground, he distanced Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) by a massive 15 seconds to take both the stage victory and a comfortable lead in the overall standings.


The first time as a Tinkoff-Saxo rider has been tough for Peter Sagan. The Slovakian has found himself under a lot of pressure after he failed to clock up his usual many victories in the early part of the season and came up short in the classics.


Sagan has been criticized by his team leader Oleg Tinkov and has been under pressure to perform as he heads towards his next big goal at the Tour de France. Now it seems that he is finally starting to pay back the team owner as he seems to be back to his best after a short mid-season break.


As usual, Sagan has resumed his racing after the classics at the Tour of California and in the American race he has looked like his former self. After two second places in the opening sprint stages and a frustrating second place in stage 3, he finally broke his long drought when he used his great technical skills to win stage 4.


Yesterday Sagan continued his string of podium places with a third place in the sprint and today he made it 6 top 3s in a row. However, this time he shone in a slightly unusual discipline as he crushed the opposition in the Tour of California time trial.


Sagan has never been a TT specialist but he has always been strong in prologues and is a former winner of such stages in both the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Alberta. Hence, it was in his favour that bad weather had forced the organizers to skip the original stage at altitude and replace it by a short 10.6km course that was very technical.


Sagan was in a class of his own when it came to navigating through the many turns and this was reflected in the result when he powered across the line as the penultimate rider. Over the short distance, he beat long time leader Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) by no less than 15 seconds, making it a brutal end to more than an hour in the hot seat for the Dutchman.


Among the GC riders, Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) was best as he finished the stage in third but pre-race favourite Sergio Henao (Sky) put himself in the perfect position to win the race overall as he took a surprising 7th place. Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) also had great rides to make it into the top 10, setting the scene for an exciting overall battle.


Race leader Toms Skujins (Hincapie) did his best but could only manage 34th, meaning that he slipped to second, 28 seconds behind new leader Sagan. Alaphilippe is best of the GC riders, sitting in third at 45 seconds.


Sagan faces an uphill battle in his quest to defend the lead as tomorrow is the day of the queen stage. The short 128km stage includes an early big mountain before the riders head up the massive and steep Mount Baldy in the second half of the stage which is all uphill.


A short, technical time trial

After five stages dominated by sprinters, it was time for the GC battle to start on stage 6 which was the race’s traditional time trial. Bad weather had forced the organizers to change the original 24.2km course in Big Bear to a short, flat, technical out-and-back 10.6km course in Santa Clarita, making it an affair for prologue specialists and time gaps like to be small.


The first rider down the ramp was Carson Miller (Jamis) who had dry conditions when he rolled down the ramp but there was always a risk that rain would start to fall. He stopped the clock in 14.07 to take the lead but he didn’t stay in the hot seat for long as the second rider was prologue specialist William Clarke (Drapac). The Australian lived up to expectations as the stopped the clock in 13.24.


Williams gets close

Daniele Ratto (Unitedhealthcare) slotted into second with 14.02 but it was David Williams (Jamis) who was the second rider to go under 14 minutes with 13.40. He was relegated into third by Jesse Anthony (Optum) who stopped the clock in 13.37.


Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-QuickStep) slotted into fourth 13.45 before Nathan Earle (Sky) went one second faster. Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) was another second faster but the next rider to make it onto the provisional podium was sprinter Eric Young (Optum) who stopped the clock in 13.39 to slot into third.


Van Emden takes the lead

There were big expectations for specialist Jos van Emden (LottoNL) who crushed the opposition by setting a time of 12.46. The first rider to get close to his time was Johann van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka) who set the second best time with 13.04.


Jordan Kerby (Drapac) was just one second slower to slot into third but all eyes now were on American champion Tom Zirbel (Optum) who was gunning for the win. However, he came up short as his time of 12.57 was 11 seconds too slow.


Flakemore off the pace

Lasse Norman (Cannondale) made it into the top 5 with a time of 13.16 and that was one second better than U23 champion Campbell Flakemore (BMC). Daniel Teklehaimanot (MTN-Qhubeka) relegated both as he slotted into fifth with 13.14.


Eric Marcotte (Smartstop) and Guillaume van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) were both below the 14-minute mark but the next rider to make it into the top 10 was Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) who slotted into 8th with 13.21. Martin Kohler (Drapac) made it into 10th but he was relegated by Michael Mørkøv (Tinkoff-Saxo) who was 5 seconds faster.


Sprinters do well

Travis Meyer (Drapac) narrowly missed out on the top 10 before Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) powered across the line in the fifth best time of 13.11. Stijn Devolder (Trek) could only manage 12th with 13.25 after Thierry Hupond (Giant-Alpecin) had set a time of 13.32 to slot into the top 15.


Danny Van Poppel (Trek) underlined that it was a course for sprinters when he made it into 9th with a time of 13.18 after Mike Teunissen (LottoNL-Jumbo) had made it into the top 20. Another sprinter Jempy Drucker (BMC) made it into the top 10 with the 10th best time.


Bennati slots into second

Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) was even faster as he set the 7th fastest timer after having caught minute-man Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin) before Evan Huffman (Smartstop) made it into the top 15. However, it was another sprinter who confirmed his status as a great time triallist as Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo) made it into second with a time of 12.53, missing the mark by 7 seconds.


Markel Irizar (Trek) narrowly missed the podium as he set a time of 13.02 to slot into fourth before Robin Carpenter (Hincapie) confirmed his great talent by setting the seventh best time. The next rider to make it into the top 10 was again a sprinter as John Murphy (Unitedhealthcare) set the the 9th fastest time.


Good ride by Zoidl

Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale) was 0.12 seconds faster to take over that spot before Daniel Oss (BMC) became the fourth rider to go below 13 minutes with 12.59. Jacques van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) was 19th fastest and Jasper Stuyven (Trek) did even better to take 15th.


Christian Knees (Sky) was the first Sky rider to make it into the top 10 with the 8th best time before his teammate Ian Boswell slotted into 16th. Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) did well to set the 9th best time to be the best GC rider at that point.


Rosskopf moves into seconds

Lachlan Norris (Drapac) positioned himself well for the GC by taking 15th and the same can be said for Rob Britton (Smartstop) who took 14th. Ben King (Cannondale) had a fantastic ride as he slotted into fifth with 13.00 and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) created a big surprise by taking 9th.


Pre-race favourite Henao delivered a very good performance to take fourth after Philip Gaimon (Optum) had taken 19th. Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) confirmed his good condition by taking 10th before Joey Rosskopf (BMC) underlined his big talent by taking second, missing the mark by just 5 seconds.


Sagan crushes the opposition

Peter Kennaugh (Sky) kept his GC options by taking 16th before Jay McCarthy (Tinkoff-Saxo) confirmed his excellent condition by slotting into 6th. Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin) had a slightly disappointing ride to take 15th while Ben Hermans (BMC) did even worse to take 20th.


Young Dion Smith (Hincapie) had a great ride to take 11th before Robert Gesink (LottoNL) proved his status as one of the favourites by taking 7th. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) confirmed his excellent condition as he set the second best time, 3 seconds off the mark. However, it was Sagan who crushed the opposition with a dominant ride before Skujins rolled across the line in 34th.



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