THOUSAND OAKS, CA - MAY 22: (L-R) Radioshack team riders Levi Leipheimer (2nd place) of the USA, Chris Horner (1st place) of the USA and Garmin- Cervelo team rider Thomas Danielson (3rd place) celebrate on the podium after receiving general classification awards for the 2011 AMGEN Tour of California from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks on May 22, 2011 in Thousand Oaks, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

2012 Tour Of California: Robert Gesink Wins The 2012 Amgen Tour Of California

The Bay Area is well-represented in the Tour of California - fitting, no? BMC Racing, Bissell Pro Cycling and UnitedHealthcare are representing the state. For more cycling coverage, head over to Podium Cafe.

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Tour of California Results 2012: Robert Gesink Takes The Overall Win, Peter Sagan Takes Almost Everything Else

The 2012 Amgen Tour of California is about two stories, the emergence of Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) and the comeback of Robert Gesink (Rabobank). Gesink had a rough 2011; he showed good form in the early part of the year but the second half of the year was characterized by the death of his father and a terrible crash in training. He broke his leg in four places in that crash, a far cry from the kind of hairline fractures that characterize a lot of cyclists' broken bones. He needed surgery to reset the leg with pins, and as with any athelete it's never clear how they'll recover from such a significant operation.

Any questions about whether or not Gesink could return to form have to be answered by his performance in the Tour of California. Gesink didn't make much noise through the first portion of the race, but he placed well and avoided losing much time to his fellow general classification contenders. When stage seven, the race's queen stage, came around, Gesink was ready to make his move. After the peloton chased down Chris Horner's inspired breakaway, the GC heavyweights slugged it out in the last 10km of the climb. 4.5km from the finish line Gesink motored away, and no one had an answer. He gained 26 seconds on the closest man, and more than a minute over most of his fellow contenders. In one single move the race was one, and the man who spent January learning to walk had won America's biggest race.

That Peter Sagan is a talented rider was not a secret to cycling fans, but the dominance he showed in the 2012 Tour of California has everyone taking note. Sagan's background is in mountain bike racing, and the Slovak National Champion had three stage wins in his first grand tour, the 2011 Vuelta España. This year he's shown even better form, and even considering that his performance at the Tour of California stands out. He won the first four stages, taking each in convincing fashion. The next three stages were time trials or mountains, stages not likely to favor a sprinter like Sagan, but he gritted his teeth and made it through with legs fresh enough to take stage eight's sprint. Winning five out of eight stages against the kind of competition he faced in the Tour of California is no small thing, and plenty of people will be eager to see what Sagan can do when he rides the Tour de France in July.

Sagan's performance earned him the race's points competition, but the days that Sagan was in the leader's yellow jersey, the green points jersey went to Garmin-Barracuda's Henrich Haussler. Haussler is a talented cyclist, with a second place finish in Milan-San Remo and a Tour de France stage win to his credit. He had no answer for Sagan, though, despite getting repeated chances at cracking the riddle. He tried to latch on to Sagan's wheel and come around him at the end, he tried to jump out early and make an aggressive move for the win. Nothing worked. He finished second to Sagan on the first four stages, and sixth in the final sprint. Team Optum Pro Cycling's Sebastian Salas took the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey, winning it with aggressive riding in breakaways and on the steep climbs.

Cyclists with ties to the Bay Area had some good results in the 2012 Tour of California, but it's hard for them not to be disappointed. Team BMC Racing, based out of Santa Rosa, had GC contention in mind for Tejay Van Garderen. The 23 year old rider was in second place heading into the climb to Mt. Baldy, but he was unable to keep up with the more experienced riders as the climb progressed and he ended the tour just off the podium in fourth place. Still, that kind of experience is worth a great deal to young rider, and he'll likely continue on to big things for BMC. Ben Jacques-Mayne, a Bay Area native riding for Bissel Pro Cycling, spent the tour doing the kind of thing a rider for a lower-level team should do: He got into the breakaways, got his sponsor some time on television and discussion in the announce booth, he showed he can contribute strong riding to any team effort. His results weren't much to speak of, but in terms of showing off his value as a bike racer he had a successful Tour. Oakland-based UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling had a number of riders make similar efforts.

The Tour of California grows bigger every year, and the decision to move it up the calendar to avoid some of the nastier weather has proven to be a good one. Robert Gesink and Peter Sagan made this year's tour an exciting one, and next year will have no shortage of men looking to do the same.

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Tour of California 2012 Winner: Robert Gesink Takes The 2012 Amgen Tour Of California Overall Victory, Peter Sagan Wins Stage 8

Robert Gesink rode away with the 2012 Tour of California with a well-timed attack on the slopes of Mt. Baldy, and after staying out of any crashes or other trouble on a loop around Los Angeles, he was awarded the final yellow leader's jersey and the overall victory Sunday afternoon. The Rabobank rider finished with a time of 29:14:52. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) earned his fourth second place finish in Tour history, 46 seconds behind Gesink. Tom Danielson, also of Garmin, came in third at 54 seconds behind. Santa Rosa's Team BMC had high hopes for their young rider Tejay Van Garderen, and he finished just off the podium, in fourth place and 1:17 out of the lead.

Gesink is only the second non-American to win the Tour of California, the other being Michael Rogers of Australia. The win marks Gesink's return from a terrible injury last year, suffering a full leg break in an accident. Zabriskie's fourth place finish is a record, and it is one that will likely be unique to Zabriskie. Many grand tours end with a time trial as the deciding stage, and anyone can put in a performance strong enough to rocket up the standings. The Tour of California typically has the individual time trial before the queen stage with a mountaintop finish, and Zabriskie isn't a strong enough climber to hold on to whatever gains he makes in the time trial.

Peter Sagan (Liquigas) took the sprint victory in stage eight, giving him five out of the eight stages. He won the green points jersey, looking dominant throughout as he won every stage with a sprint finish. Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling) takes the King of the Mountain jersey.

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Tour of California, Stage 8 2012: Stage Preview, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage eight of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is a 44mi roll from Beverly Hills to downtown Los Angeles, a chance to promote the race and for spectators to get a good look at the professional peloton. There will be a tight sprint finish, but it's incredibly unlikely anything will happen in the GC standings. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) made his move on Mt. Baldy, and his hold on the leader's jersey is safe going through Los Angeles.

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Peter Sagan (Liquigas), who won all four of the race's first four stages, will likely put in a god showing in the final sprint. It's also the last chance for Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda), who came in second to Sagan on all four stages, to grab a stage win in the 2012 Tour of California. The riders take days like this casually, but they'll make every effort on that final sprint.

Start Time: 10:10am PDT

Television Coverage: NBC Sports Network starting at 3:30pm PDT

Streaming Coverage: Watch online via the Radioshack Tour Tracker.

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Tour of California Standings 2012: Robert Gesink Wins Stage 7, Takes The Overall Lead And The Race

Stage seven of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California was the explosive stage race organizers had hoped it would be, with defending champion Chris Horner (Radioshack-Nissan) blowing things up at the start and driving a relentless pace. In the end, he was unable to make up the two minutes he lost in the individual time trial, and he was chased down for a wide-open fight on the climb up Mt. Baldy. In the end it was Rabobank's Robert Gesink who made the key attack, motoring to the top to take the stage win and the overall lead.

Horner opened the day in an early breakaway, joined by four of his teammates. Together they made a desperate attempt to put enough space between him and the peloton that he would have a shot at making up the time he lost in the TT, and the pace they drove the breakaway was enough to break their fellow escapees one by one. From a dozen men it was whittled down to Horner and Darwin Atapuma (Colombia-Coldeportes), a young Columbian climber who managed to stay out in front until the very end.

Horner and Atapuma had as much as 3:50 over the peloton at one point, but by the time they reached the foot of the final climb the gap was less than a minute and a half. The GC contenders would catch Horner on the climb, and it became a fight between Gesink, Tejay Van Garderen of Santa Rosa based BMC, Garmin's Tom Danielson, and Atapuma. Danielson was the first to fade, and when Gesink attacked Van Garderen had no response. The Dutchman motored away, and he was quick enough to catch Atapuma before the finish, taking the stage win along with the yellow leader's jersey.

Van Garderen had entered the day in second place, and the Bay Area team had high hopes for his finish today. He gave it a strong effort, but the result has to be disappointing.

The provisional GC standings following stage 7:

1) Robert Gesink (RAB) - 29:14:52
2) Dave Zabriskie (GRM) - :46
3) Tom Danielson (GRM) - :54
4) Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) - 1:17

The second place finish for Zabriskie is his fourth such finish in the Tour of California. An incredibly strong time trialist but not an elite climber, he always manages to make up just enough time in the TT to almost win. Stage eight is a short, flat run into Los Angeles that will see a sprint finish and have no impact on the overall standings. Gesink made his statement today, winning the decisive queen stage and the race itself.

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Tour of California, Stage 7 2012: Preview of Mt. Baldy, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage seven of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is a run from the Southern California town of Ontario to the top of Mt. Baldy, and it is where the race will ultimately be decided.

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It is a repeat of the 2011 stage that saw Team Radioshack shred the field and deliver Chris Horner to the yellow leader's jersey. This year Horner is over 2 minutes back and it's unlikely that he can put that much time into his GC rivals. Dave Zabriskie is in the lead this year, but he's not the strongest climber and he'll have a tremendous challenge in holding off the attacks. Santa Rosa's Team BMC is likely to be driving those attacks, as their man Tejay Van Garderen sits 34 seconds off the lead, in second place. BMC won't be the only team gunning for the win, also in the top ten is Rabobank's Robert Gesink and UnitedHealthcare's Rory Sutherland.

Stage eight is a run into Los Angeles that functions as race promotion and a treat for spectators. It's in the climb up Mt. Baldy in stage seven that the race will be decided.

Start Time: 12:00pm PDT

Television Coverage: Live Coverage on NBC Universal Starting at 4:00pm PDT

Online Coverage: Streaming via the Radioshack Tour Tracker

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Tour of California Standings 2012:Sylvain Georges Wins Stage 6 With Solo Effort, Dave Zabriskie Still In Lead

Stage six of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California was won by Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale), a young canadian rider who jumped off the front less than 10km off the front and stayed there for the next 175, riding to a solo win with an incredible effort.

Joined in the break by a half dozen other riders at first, Georges worked with his fellow escapees as current King of the Mountains leader Sebastian Salas and his teammate Andrew Bajadali (Optum Pro Cycling) worked in tandem to keep David Boily (Spidertech-C10) from gaining any points on Salas. The break kept up a tremendous pace, and one by one the riders cracked and fell back into the main peloton. All except Georges, that is, who came into the final 20km with a gap of over three minutes on the main field. The peloton put the hammer down and drove hard to catch him, but he had worked too hard for that. He crossed the line all by himself, a full 28 seconds ahead of the bunch.

The GC standings remain largely unchanged after stage six, leaving Saturday's climb of Mt. Baldy to decide the race. Santa Rosa's Team BMC has Tejay Van Garderen sitting in second, 34 seconds behind leader Dave Zabriskie. Zabriskie isn't a great climber, and Van Garderen and the other GC heavyweights will likely fight it out among themselves. Saturday's stage is for the whole thing, though, with Sunday's drive in LA very unlikely to have any effect on the standings. Anyone rider with intentions on winning the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is going to have to be first up that unforgiving climb.

The GC Standings following stage six:

1) David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 25:37:05

2) Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:34

3) Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:39

4) Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 0:00:45

5) Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:48

6) Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:01

7) Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:01:07

8) Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:01:10

9) Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:01:26

10) Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team

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2012 Tour of California, Stage 6: Preview Of Stage 6, Television Information, How To Watch Online And More

Stage six of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is 115 miles from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake, but the story isn't so much the distance as it is the height. Just about at the middle of the stage is a 12 mile, 7000 foot climb to the summit of Angeles Crest Highway. The riders get a break as they move through the valleys of Crestine and Lake Arrowhead, before the day ends with another climb to 7000 feet at the Snow Summit ski area.

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Chris Horner, the 2011 Tour of California Champion, had a rough day at Thursday's time trial. He ended up about two minutes behind the main GC contenders, and if he has any shot at winning this race he's going to have to be incredibly aggressive on Friday. Horner can climb, but whether he can do it well enough to claw back the time he lost in the TT remains to be seen.

As for those contenders, not the least among them is Santa Rosa based Team BMC's Tejay Van Garderen. Coming in third in the time trial, Van Garderen now sits in second place behind Dave Zabriskie, 34 seconds out of the lead. Zabriskie is a phenomenal time trial rider, but climbing isn't his strength. His time in the leader's jersey will likely be short, and the best candidates to take it from him are Van Garderen, Peter Velits (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Andrew Talansky and Tom Danielson (Garmin). They're all in prime position, and between Big Bear on Friday and Mt. Baldy on Saturday, the race isn't far from being decided.

Start Time: 10:25am PDT

Television Coverage: Live coverage on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00pm PDT

Streaming Online: Coverage provided via theRadioshack Tour Tracker

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Tour of California Standings 2012: Time Trial Champ Dave Zabriskie Wins Stage, Takes Overall Lead

Stage five of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California was an Individual Time Trial through Bakersfield, and David Zabriskie did what he did best and won with ease. The Garmin-Barracuda rider is the American Time Trial Champion and has long specialized in the discipline, and he put in a strong effort today. No one expected race leader Peter Sagan to hold on to the leader's jersey through the stage, with even Sagan himself admitting what was coming. Sagan finished in 39:26, good for 52nd place.

Zabriskie now takes the yellow leader's jersey, and all of the GC contenders moved up the standings. Santa Rosa's Team BMC had their best result of the tour so far, as Tejay Van Garderen finished 34 seconds back from Zabriskie, good for third place in the stage and good position in the GC. 40 year old Jens Voigt took second place for Team Radioshack-Nissan-Trek.

The race now heads to the mountains, including a classic mountaintop finish on Mt. Baldy. Last year's champion Chris Horner (Radioshack) had a rough day, conceding almost three minutes to the now-leading Zabriskie. He'll need a big attack on those mountains if he hopes to repeat as champion.

Provisional GC Standings after Stage 5:
1) Dave Zabriskie (GRM) - 20:29:31
2) Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) - -:34
3) Robert Gesink (RAB) - :39
4) Andrew Talansky (GRM) - :48
5) Peter Velits (OPQ) - :49
6) Luke Durbridge (OGE) - 1:01
7) Tom Danielson (GRM) - 1:07
8) Rory Sutherland (UHC) - 1:10
9) Cameron Meyer (OGE) - 1:26
10) Markel Irizar (RNT) - 1:29

Stage six of the race heads from Palmdale to Big Bear Lake, and the heavyweights are just about at their last chance to make a move.

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2012 Tour of California, Stage 5: Stage 5 Preview, Television Coverage, How To Watch Online And More

Stage five of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is the individual time trial, and riders will head down the ramp and immediately be dropped into a descent down Alfred Harrel Highway. Hitting almost 55mph immediately out of the start will save them a bit of energy, but it's almost certain they'll have none left by the time they finish the 18.4mi out-and-back route.

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After the riders make it out to the rollers at the turnaround point they'll come back to see the finish line 300 feet above them, accessable only through the China Grade, an 8% climb that leads to the slight uphill run to the finish. No one is going to win the race at stage five, but it will have a big impact on how the next few stages play out. A man who gains an advantage in the TT forces his opponents to work around him in the mountains, and that's no small advantage. Race leader Peter Sagan is likely to lose a decent chunk of time to the better time trialists on the tour, but it remains to be seen if the 40 second gap he built through win bonuses is enough to keep him in the yellow leader's jersey until Friday.

Start Time: 1:00pm PDT

Television Coverage: Live coverage on NBC Sports Network starting at 1:30pm PDT

Streaming Online: Coverage provided via the Radioshack Tour Tracker

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2012 Tour of California Standings: Peter Sagan Wins 4th Consecutive Stage, Remains Atop The Standings

Stage four of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California ended exactly the same way the first three did: With Peter Sagan (Liquigas) beating Henrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) in a mad dash for the finish line. The 22 year old is now 4-4 in the 2012 tour, having one every stage by a clear margin. Haussler hasn't been able to outfox the young rider or outmuscle him, and he has four second place finishes to show for it. Rabobank's Michael Matthews came in third.

The weather didn't do the riders any favors on a long, tough day, as the tempature rose steadily throughout the day, reaching 90 degrees for the finish. 130 miles of that was too much for at least eight riders who abandoned the race Wednesday.

Stage four was the longest of the Tour, and the GC contenders were content to keep a steady pace over the mountains and let younger riders in the breakaway collect the King of the Mountain points. The leader in the King of the Mountain standings, Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling) took the first one, and the rest were split among the six men in the breakaway. Santa Rosa's Team BMC was represented in the breakaway by Yannick Eijssen, who took second place over the 3rd climb. This is Yannick's second year racing the Amgen Tour of California, as well as his second year as a professional. The peloton stayed close to the break, and once the climbs were over they quickly reeled them in. That left teams setting up for the sprint finish, and the long straight lead-in to the line played out exactly like stages one through three. Rabobank looked to set up Michael Matthews, Garmin set up Haussler, BMC was trying to delvier Tejay Van Garderen to the line, and Sagan simply gritted his teeth and blew past them all.

The GC Standings after stage four:

1) Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 28:01:37
2) Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:16
3) Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:34
4) Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:35
5) Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy 0:00:36
6) Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling
7) Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
8) Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:37
9) Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:38
10) Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:39

Stage five is the individual time trial, where the stronger GC contenders will undoubtedly put time into Sagan. With his fourth win bonus he now has fourty seconds over most of them, though, so he's done all he can to hold them off. After the time trial comes the serious mountains, where the heavyweights will make their moves and we will see a serious test of the young rider's abilities.

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2012 Tour of California, Stage 4: Preview Of Stage Shows Chance For Upset, Will Test Peter Sagan Over Repeated Climbs

Stage four of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California goes from Sonora to Clovis, 130 miles that just might turn out to be the most difficult of the entire race. The route has climb after descent after climb after descent, but to describe it as "rolling" wouldn't do it justice. Race leader Peter Sagan has put on an inspired performance thus far, but this kind of stage is what truly measures a young rider.

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A rough estimate from the profile has the riders doing over 5000 feet of climbing, and this comes the day before the individual time trial. That gives the breakaway a great chance at taking the stage, as a team with a serious GC contender is going to think twice about burning up their legs the day before biggest test of the riders indpendent skill. That said, there's a long descent and a flat finish, so any breakaway that wants to stay away is going to have to put in a stellar effort to avoid being caught. Santa Rosa based Bissel Pro Cycling has seen Jeremy Vennell in more than one break; does he have another in him? There are six climbs with King of the Mountain points attached, so anyone with their eye on the polka dot jersey could really help themselves out on stage four. However it plays out, a bike race traveling over a profile as pretty as that one won't be boring.

The GC Standings after stage three:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 14:34:54

2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda -:12

3 Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team -:24

4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy -:26

5 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling -:26

A host of others sit 30 seconds out, including the main GC contenders. With things that close, any stage with this many hills could see some big changes.

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2012 Tour of California Standings: Peter Sagan Wins Stage 3, Is Now 3-3

Peter Sagan is now three for three at the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, taking stage three in a wide-open sprint finish after a long trip over two big climbs. Henrich Haussler is three for three at coming in second. His tactics changed this time, as he jumped out with around 100 meters to go and tried to beat Sagan at a distance, but the result was the same. Sagan put the hammer down and took Haussler down.

Sagan is 12 seconds ahead of Haussler in the general standings, but more importantly he's getting close to being 30 seconds ahead of all of the heavyweight contenders. There's a lot of racing to come, including some serious, serious climbs. Sagan is young, and it's a big question whether or not he's up to the task of staying with the leaders all the way through. If he wants to make a bid, though, he couldn't do any better than collecting the first three wins and the time bonuses that come with them.

There was another long breakway in the stage, with Jeremy Vennell again representing Bissel Pro Cycling. He and Alexander Torres (Colombia-Coldeportes) spent almost the entire race out in front, but were pulled back with about 10 miles to go. After that it was Fabio Duarte who jumped off the front, making it first over the second of the days climbs, earning himself crucial King of the Mountain points. Duarte was a world champion in the under 23 division, and the peloton paid his attack some respect, chasing it down quickly and efficiently.

From there the teams started lining up, trying to put together strong leadout trains for their sprinters. Rabobank was looking to set up Michael Matthews, OmegaPharma-Quickstep for Tom Boonen, and Team BMC for Greg Van Avermaert. BMC's George Hincapie has been a professional for 19 years and is the only man to have supported Lance Armstrong in all seven of his Tour de France victories, and he marshalled BMC's riders with ease. It didn't pay off in the form of a stage win, though, as again things came down to Haussler and Sagan, with Sagan again dominating.

Wednesday's stage is the longest of the race, and with a series of climbs just might be the hardest. Those gunning for the King of the Mountain jersey will have an active day, and a long flat stretch at the finish gives the teams another chance to deliver their sprinter to the line.

The provisional GC Standings after stage three:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 14:34:54

2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda -:12

3 Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team -:24

4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy -:26

5 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling -:26

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Tour of California 2012, Stage 3: Mt. Diablo Looms Large As Peloton Moves From San Jose To Livermore

Stage three of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California starts in San Jose, the only city to host a stage in every year of the race's existence. It's 115 miles from the start in San Jose to the finish in Livermore, but all eyes will be on just 10.8 miles of the race: the miles from the bottom to the top of Mt. Diablo. Fans of the race have been wanting to see the professionals tackle Mt. Diablo for years, and this year they get their wish. The riders will climb 2,250 vertical feet over just under 11 miles.

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The mountain comes nowhere near the finish of the stage, so it's unlikely that any of the GC contenders will stage an attack on the slopes. It's much more likely that a breakaway will try for the King of the Mountain points, with the prize going to the cyclist who can suffer the best. The stage sees another, smaller climb over Patterson Pass, and then it's downhill to the finish. If teams can get their sprinters over the hills without cracking, expect a sprint finish in Livermore. If the hills prove to be too much, though, all bets are off.

Stage Information:
Start: San Jose, 11:35am PDT
Finish: Livermore

Television Coverage:
Live coverage on NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00pm PDT

Streaming Online:
Streaming live via the Radioshack Tour Tracker

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2012 Tour of California Standings: Sagan Wins Stage 2 With Blistering Closing Sprint, Team BMC Still In The Mix

Stage two of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California had two mountains in the back half, the course designed to split the peloton, leaving the contenders at the top of the GC standings and dropping pretenders down the rankings. That never materialized, and after a long day in the saddle it remains anyone's race. Peter Sagan took the stage win and the 10 second time bonus that comes with it, getting a better grip on his yellow leader's jersey. He was at the front of the group as they came around the final turn, and immediately after swooping through the curve he put the hammer down. Henrich Haussler had no chance at catching him, and once again Sagan and Haussler finish 1-2, with Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) in third.

There was a breakaway in the stage, led by Frenchman Alexandre Geniez (Argos-Shimano). The Bay Area was well represented; Bradley White of Oakland-based UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was in that breakaway, with Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Cycling) as the third man as the escapees made their way over the top of the first climb. By the crest of the second climb the peloton was there to swallow them up, and Geniez slumped in defeat as he was absorbed by the group. From there it was about the GC contenders, and race leader Peter Sagan had his team at the front of the bunch setting the pace. They refused to let up, and had Sagan in perfect position to lay down the blistering effort he did.

Santa Rosa's Team BMC had a mixed day, as they had a couple of racers suffer a late crash with about 5km left to go. George Hincapie was still at the front of the bunch, though, attempting to set up sprinter Greg Van Avermaet for the win. But, like everyone else, they had no match for Sagan's late surge. Hincapie is towards the top of the overall standings but insists he's working for the much younger Van Avermaet and has no desire to rekindle his rivalry with Fred Rodriguez, who is riding the tour for Team Xergy.

The GC Standings after stage two:

1. Peter Sagan, Liquigas-Cannondale in 9:44:15

2. Heinrich Haussler, Garmin-Barracuda at :08

3. Leigh Howard, Orica-GreenEdge :13

4. Jeffry Louder, UnitedHealthcare at :14

5. Fred Rodriguez, Exergy at :16

6. Ben Jacques-Maynes, Bissell at :16

7. Marc De Maar, UnitedHealthcare at :17

8. Markel Irizar Aranburu, RadioShack-Nissan at :19

9. Joshua Atkins, Bontrager-Livestrong at :19

10. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing at :20

Stick with this storystream for updates, previews, results and more from the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for quality news and analysis.

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Tour of California 2012, Stage 2: Getting First Over Santa Cruz Mountains Key For Victory In Stage 2

Stage two of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is a 117 mile trip from downtown San Francisco to Santa Cruz County. The riders spend Monday heading a long ways down the coast on Highway One before turning inland, heading over two substantial climbs, and finishing with a tricky descent and a run through Aptos.

Stage2profile_medium

The first climb is a stiff one, and in previous editions the rider who makes it up that hill first has had a good shot at standing atop the podium at the end of the day. Don't be surprised to see attacks and counter-attacks from the GC contenders. No one with a shot at winning the race is more than 10 seconds back from the lead, so it's anyone's game in stage two.

Bissel Pro Cycling's Ben Jacques-Mayne will be riding close to home today, so he may make a repeat of Sunday's breakaway effort. Santa Rosa based Team BMC has a number of strong riders near the top, and you can expect them to continue looking towards propelling Tejay Van Garderen up the standings. The riders start in San Francisco at 11:05am, and television coverage begins at 2:00pm on NBC Sports Network.

Stay tuned to this storystream for updated, previews and more throughout the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for quality news and analysis.

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2012 Tour of California Standings: Peter Sagan Takes Stage One, Team Bissel Shows Heart In The Breakway

The results from stage one of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California featured Bay Area native Ben Jacques-Mayne in a breakway that almost escaped, a peloton that had to give it everything to chase them down, and an unpredictable sprint finish that saw Peter Sagan flat in the final kilometers only to storm back for the win.

Jacques-Mayne and teammate Andrew Dahlheim represented Bissel Pro Cycling in the first breakway of the Tour of California, with Jacques-Mayne putting in the bigger effort and staying with the break almost to the end. The gap between the peloton and the breakaway got as high as 11 minutes, but with less than 10km left in the race the peloton caught up with them and swallowed them up. The others in the last of the break, Maxime Bouet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Jeffry Louder (UnitedHealthcare), saw the break coming and the three men shook hands as they gave up their dreams of winning the stage.

With the peloton all together again it came down to a sprint finish, and things were looking grand for Rabobank. They were driving hard at the front of the peloton to set up their sprinter Michael Matthews, but with just three kilometers left to go in the race a crash brought down a half dozen riders, Matthews among them. Oricagreenedge was the next team to set up for a sprint win, but none of them had counted on Team Liquigas' Peter Sagan.

22-year-old Peter Sagan had flatted with about 5km left to go in the race, and a bit of fumbling by the mechanic cost him precious seconds in getting a fresh wheel. Sagan wasn't giving up, though, and with the help of two Liquigas teammates he stormed back to the front of the peloton, eventually jumping off in the last hundred meters and making it look easy, taking the stage win.

Santa Rosa based Team BMC was at the front of the peloton towards the finish, looking for an opening for Greg van Avermaet or Tejay van Garderen. Nothing presented itself, but the team is well represented in the top 10. The stage results and default GC standings:

1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 4:42:35

2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda

3 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy

4 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team

5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team

6 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team

7 Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10

8 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep

9 Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong Team

10 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling Team

The Tour of California is a relatively short race, so expect team to come out firing starting in Monday's stage two.


Stick with SB Nation Bay Area for results, updates, previews and more from the 2012 Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has all your insight and analysis.
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How To Watch The 2012 Tour of California: NBS Sports Network Has You Covered

On Sunday, the 2012 Amgen Tour of California will finally arrive. Cycling fans in the Bay Area will finally get a chance to cheer on some of the most talented riders in the world as the most prestigious annual cycling event in the United States gets underway.

Sunday's Stage 1 kicks off in Santa Rosa and will be televised on NBC Sports Network (formerly Vs.). The coverage last year was outstanding and this year will likely be no different. Stage 1 coverage begins at 2:00 p.m. PT.

You can also watch the live streaming coverage on the official Amgen Tour of California website. If that's not enough for you, there is also a free tracking app you can download for iOS and Android smartphones.

SB Nation Bay Area will have updates, previews, recaps and analysis throughout the 2012 Tour of California. And as always, excellent cycling commentary, news and insight can be found at Podium Cafe.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Tour of California 2012, Stage 1: Sprints, Climbs, And Coastal Descents Featured As Stage 1 Jump Starts The Race

Stage one of the 2012 Tour of California begins and ends in Santa Rosa, home to three time ToC champion Levi Leipheimer. Two neutral laps through town will give locals a good glimpse at the peloton, and then it's 116 miles out and back. There are several sprint sections through the stage, meaning the fight for the points jersey starts right away. Two climbs near the coastline offer spectacular views and technical, tricky descents, and then it's flat back into Santa Rosa for what will likely be a sprint finish.

Stage1_medium

Unlike longer races like the Grand Tours, the Tour of California tends to get down to business right away, and it's long enough that someone who makes the right plays on stage one can hold on to the lead the whole way through. There's no clear favorite in this year's race, so someone may look to make a statement on day one. Things get underway in Santa Rosa at 10:50am PST, and day one promises plenty of action. Keep your eyes on defending champion Chris Horner, Garmin Barracuda's Tom Danielson, and Team BMC's young contender Tejay Van Garderen.

This storystream will have updates, previews and more from the 2012 Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for insight and analysis.

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2012 Tour of California Teams: Oakland Based UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Returns To The Tour Of California

There were only so many Continental Level teams invited to the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, and competition for the spots is fierce. Oakland based UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling was invited, though, and now they have to perform at the level befitting a team racing alongside world class competition. It's a big step up in competition, but their timing in taking that step couldn't be better. The team is coming off a dominating performance in the SRAM Tour of the Gila, where all-rounder Rory Sutherland won the first stage of the race and never gave up the lead. He had strong team support throughout, winning only the first stage but finishing in the top three several times. They've supplemented their Gila roster with a few pairs of fresh legs and are looking to make an impact in the 2012 Tour of California. They have the kind of attitude a smaller team needs, with Jonathan Clarke as an aggressive climber and Jason McCartney listing one of his strengths on the bike as "ripping the legs off other guys."


The full United Healthcare Pro Cycling roster for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is:

Jonathan Clarke (Australia)
Marc de Maar (Netherlands)
Philip Deignan (Ireland)
Christopher Jones (USA)
Jeffry Louder (USA)
Jason McCartney (USA)
Rory Sutherland (Australia)
Bradley White (USA)

SB Nation Bay Area will have updates, previews, recaps and analysis throughout the 2012 Tour of California. And as always, excellent cycling commentary, news and insight can be found at Podium Cafe.

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Tour of California 2012 Teams: Team BMC Eyes The Big Prize

BMC is one of the better funded and better organized teams in the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. But when you're a team with a budget big enough to simultaneously race the Giro d'Italia on one continent and the ToC on another, you bring expectations to match. Tejay van Garderen, an American from Tacoma, Washington, is expected to be the team's contender for the overall victory. Winner of the Best Young Rider white jersey in the 2011 Toc, van Garderen has shown good form so far this year, coming in fifth at Paris-Nice. He'll have strong support: George Hincapie rides for BMC, and Hincapie holds the distinction of being the only rider to assist Lance Armstrong in all seven of his Tour de France victories. In his 19th season as a professional, cyclists don't get wiser or more experienced than Hincapie, and that's a huge advantage in a bike race. BMC's Greg Van Avermaet will be looking for wins in sprint stages, but if van Garderen has a shot at the overall win, expect the young Belgian's sprint dreams to be a secondary concern.

The full BMC Racing roster for the 2012 Amgen Tour of California:

Brent Bookwalter (USA)

Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)

Yannick Eijssen (Belgium)

George Hincapie (USA)

Steve Morabito (Switzerland)

Thimothy Roe (Australia)

Greg van Avermaet (Belgium)

Tejay van Garderen (USA)

The 2012 Tour of California is unique in that there is no clear favorite going in. It's a big opportunity for BMC, and don't expect them to sleep on it.
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Tour of California Teams 2012: Bissell Pro Cycling Rides Their 6th Tour Looking To Make An Impact

Bissel Pro Cycling will be riding their sixth Tour of California, making them the team with the most consecutive invites. That's a big deal for riders like Bay Area native Ben Jacques-Maynes. With stages moving through both San Jose and Santa Cruz, don't be surprised if the rider puts in a huge effort for his hometown fans. Given the relative popularity of bike racing in Europe versus the US, that's something of a rare opportunity for American riders.

Bissel has brought a nice mix of veterans and young riders to the tour, using the shorter stage race to season some of their members for bigger things down the road. US National Criterium Champion Eric Young and Andrew Dahlheim are both riding the ToC for the first time and will be looking to see what they can do with their skills in the sprint stages.

The full Bissel Pro Cycling roster for the 2012 Tour of California is:

Christopher Baldwin (USA)

Chris Barton (USA)

Patrick Bevin (New Zealand)

Andrew Dahlheim (USA)

Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA)

Carter Jones (USA)

Frank Kevin Pipp (USA)

Jeremy Vennell (New Zealand)

It can be difficult for some of the smaller budget teams to compete when they're facing organizations that are larger, better funded, and better organized than they are, but don't count anyone out. There are lot of different ways to succeed in bike racing and a number of different places through the race for a rider to make his mark, and Bissel Pro Cycling has a number of riders who will look to do just that.

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Tour Of California 2012: Bay Area Riders And Teams Prepare For Sunday

Tour of California 2012 begins on Sunday. Here's a guide to local riders and teams competing in the most important American-based cycling race of the year.

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2012 Amgen Tour Of California: Course Route And Map Released

The 2012 Amgen Tour of California organizers released the route map for the 2012 race. It features a variety of stage favorites. We break down the eight stage race with a map of the course. For more cycling coverage, head over to Podium Cafe.

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