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.
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
SB Nation Bay Area will continue to bring you previews, recaps and more throughout the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe is your source for news and quality analysis.