Stage Six of the Tour of California presented the racers with the sweet agony of a 31.6km (19.75mi) individual time trial around San Jose. For the race favorites, they must throw down to win. For the tired,they must give everything to survive. For Cannondale Pro Cycling presented by Sho-Air, they were decidely in the middle. Ted King and Brian Vandborg needed good rides to hold their sixteenth and eighteenth places overall, or even move up. Peter Sagan and the rest of the team needed to go only fast enough to beat the time cut while resting enough for the final two days of the race.
The individual time trial, the race of truth, is a seemingly simple task. Go all-out for the distance and collapse a few meters after crossing the finish line. Simple isn't always easy, and riding a good time trial never is. Different courses have to be ridden differently and play to different strengths. Typical American time trials are out-and-back courses on straight roads. Typical European time trials take in circuits with turns, towns, hills, road furniture, and more. This stage was in the middle. Straight, flat roads, mixed in with curvy, hilly sections, and finishing atop a stiff climb. Good for those who need constant changes in order to keep focus, bad for those who can't give 100% when they have to think.
Riders go off in the opposite order of their general classification position. The last is first, and the first last. As the riders counted down, Cannondale's Kristijan Koren put in a great ride that left him near the top of the leaderboard. He, like all the other early finishers, had to wait to see how their efforts stacked up. Later on, Peter Sagan, not giving his all, put in a fast time, with Brian Vandborg hoping to improve his position on the leaderboard going a few seconds faster. Ted King, hoping for a great day, didn't have it, as he lost two minutes to Vandborg.
Koren, who finished eleventh, didn't know about his ride, even after he finished. "I didn't realize that I had done so well. I got back to the hotel and got an SMS from a journalist congratulating me. 'For what' I said. He replied that I got eleventh, which surprised me since I didn't know the course and rode it with no stress to do well. I even was braking in the curves on the descent but I guess I was going well. On the first climb I felt well and caught my minute man. I got another one before the straight into the wind. Going into the final climb, I realized that I have a climb just like this at home, so I rode it at fifteen to seventeen km/hr like I would at home. Overall, the course was good for me, with changes in rhythm and the climbs like this. I'm happy for sure, but we still need to think about working for Peter, as there is another chance for him."
The rides also moved Cannondale's Vandborg up to seventeeth, and King down to twentieth. With no points on the line, Sagan remains in the Green Jersey of sprint leader, with a one-point lead over Garmin-Sharp's Tyler Farrar.
Tomorrow's Stage Seven, 147.1km (92mi) from Livermore to Mt. Diablo, should be the final general classification shake-out. The race begins with a 100km (62.5mi) loop over two climbs, and finishing off with an intermediate sprint in Livermore behor heading out for a 29km (18mi) approach to Diablo. Once there, the climb comes in two parts. The first 10km (6.25mi) is relatively easy. But then the final eight kilometers (5mi) will feature an average gradient of seven per cent and then pitch up to a brutally steep seventeen percent for the final half kilomter. Cannondale Pro Cycling's Ted King and Brian Vandborg will need to put in great rides to move further up in the overall standings.
Amgen Tour of California 2013
San Jose (ITT) 31.6km
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team in 0:48:52
2. Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team at 0:00:23
3. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:28
4. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:05
5. Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:01:08
Stage Results Cannondale Pro Cycling presented by Sho-Air
11. Kristijan Koren (Slo) 0:02:06
35. Brian Vandborg (Den) 0:04:11
36. Peter Sagan (Svk) 0:04:14
72. Edward King (USA) 0:06:35
85. Guillaume Boivin (Can) 0:07:20
94. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) 0:07:58
97. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) 0:08:06
1. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 22:44:24
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:01:47
3. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:02:57
4. Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:03:21
5. Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Col) Jamis-Hagens Berman 0:03:31
General Classification Cannondale Pro Cycling presented by Sho-Air
17. Brian Vandborg (Den) 0:10:08
20. Edward King (USA) 0:11:42
37. Peter Sagan (Svk) 0:23:37
65. Kristijan Koren (Slo) 0:31:49
78. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) 0:38:56
83. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) 0:41:16
88. Guillaume Boivin (Can) 0:46:32