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.
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