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Having covered, the 20.3km course in 24.16, Dennis beat Talansky by 17 seconds in the time trial at the Tour of California; Phinney was three seconds further adrift in third while Alaphilippe finished 8th and retained the lead

Photo: Sirotti










21.05.2016 @ 01:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Rohan Dennis (BMC) lived up to his status as the overwhelming favourite for the Tour of California time trial by riding to a dominant victory on the 20.3km power course on the sixth stage of the race. Making the difference in the headwind in the second part, the Australian beat Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) bu 17 seconds while Taylor Phinney (BMC) was three seconds further adrift in third. Julian Alahilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) did one of the best time trials of his life to finish 8th and so retained the overall lead.


At the start of the Tour of California, there were a lot of question marks regarding Rohan Dennis. The Australian had been suffering from illness for most of the spring and nobody knew whether he would be climbing well enough to go for the win in the American race.


However, one thing seemed to be guaranteed. Unless disaster would strike, the Australian would win the 20.3km time trial in Folsom where he had been firmly beaten into second by Bradley Wiggins two years ago. The Australian was determined to get his revenge and after delivering splendid climbing performances in the last few days, his status as favourite had only become bigger.


Dennis fully lived up to expectations as he was in a class of his own on the flat, windy power course. While many riders went too fast in the tailwind section on the wait out and then faded dramatically in the headwind, the Australian gauged his effort perfectly. He reached the turning point in a time that was 8 seconds slower than Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha) and Andrew Talansky but he was much faster than both in the second part. While the Belgian cracked and could only manage 9th, Talansky did better to only lose 25 seconds to Dennis on the way back but it was not enough for the American champion to take the win as he had to settle for second.


Talansky had beaten Taylor Phinney who had been an early starter and led the stage for most of the afternoon until the Cannondale rider shaved 3 seconds off his mark. His good time check made him believe that he could actually beat Dennis but he could only applaud when Dennis crossed the line in a much better time.


However, it was not all good for Dennis as his win was not enough to move into yellow. Race leader Julian Alaphilippe is definitely not known for his TT skills and even though he had done a good time trial last year on a very technical course, he was expected to lose a lot of time to Dennis on the power route in Folsom.


However, Alaphilippe did the time trial of his life to finish the stage in 8th and limited his losses to Dennis to just 45 seconds. That was enough to retain the yellow jersey with a 16-second advantage over the Australian who moves into second.


BMC are now poised for two spots on the podium as Brent Bookwalter did great to take fifth and move into third, 38 seconds off the lead. Talansky’s good ride saw him move into fourth and he must be left wondering what might have been if he had been the Cannondale captain from the start of the race.


Young Søren Kragh Andersen (Giant-Alpecin) had a great day to take fourth while there was no win for world champion Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) who had to settle for sixth. Youngster Neilson Powless (Axeon) confirmed his huge potential by finishing 10th and so moved into fifth in the overall standings.


The big losers were climbers George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Peter Stetina (Trek). They both suffered on the flat course and slipped from third and second to 9th and 12th respectively.


Alaphilippe now faces a tough challenge in tomorrow’s penultimate stage which has a very hilly profile. There are one category 1, two category 2 and three category 3 climbs on the menu but most of them come in the first half. The final 2.5km climb averages 7.9% and summit with 52.5km from the finish and from there it is a descending and flat run-in to the finish, meaning that it could be a day for a breakaway or reduced bunch sprint.


A power course

After yesterday’s uphill finish, it was time for the important time trial that brought the riders over 20.3km around the city of Folsom. It was a mostly flat out-and-back course with almost no technical challenges, meaning that it was a stage for the powerful specialists.


It was a sunny day in California when Erik Baska (Tinkoff) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. He reached the finish in 27.58 to set an early best time but was quickly beaten by teammate Michal Kolar who as 33 seconds faster.


Failure for Wiggins

John Murphy (Unitedhealthcare) slotted into second but it was another Tinkoff rider who knocked Kolar out of the hot seat. Oscar Gatto stopped the clock in 26.54 to move into the lead and it was enough to beat Bradley Wiggins (WIGGINS) who could only manage 27.57.


Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) posted a time of 27.18 which was enough to move into second before Andrew Fenn (Sky) became the new leader, shaving one second off Gatto’stime. Nikolay Trusov became the next Tinkoff rider to do well, posting the same time as his teammate Gatto.


Doull takes the lead

Alan Marangoni (Cannondale) beat Fenn by fractions of a second but didn’t get much time in the hot seat as Andrew Tennant (WIGGINS) was 25 seconds faster with 26.28. Jempy Drucker (BMC) also had a fine ride with 27.13 but was Ben Wolfe (Jelly Belly) who became the first ride to go below 26 minutes with 25.50.


Adam Blythe (Tinkoff) made it into the top 10 with 27.05 and Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek) did even better with 26.53. However, everybody was waiting for the arrival of Owain Doull (WIGGINS) who had been fast at the time check. The Brit stopped the clock in 25.21 to take a clear lead.


Best time for Phinney

Markel Irizar (Trek) was the first challenger as he slotted into second with 25.44 but it was always clear that it was another rider who was going to take the lead. World champion Vasil Kiryienka (Sky) was 21 seconds faster than Doull and took over the lead.


Patrick Bevin (Cannondale) had a fine ride with 25.27 which was enough to move into third but it was always going to be Taylor Phinney (BMC) who would challenge Kiryienka. The Brit had a storming ride with 24.36 which was a massive 24 seconds faster than the world champion.


Good ride by Moscon

Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko) slotted into the top 10 with 26.00 before Toms Skujins (Cannondale) confirmed his good form by positing the 9th best time. He was pushed down one spot by Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) who was 15 seconds faster with 26.32.


Krists Neilands (Axeon) had a great ride to move into 8th and his compatriot Andzs Flaksis (Holowesko) was even six seconds faster. Gianni Moscon (Sky) confirmed his huge potential by posting the fourth best time of 25.34.


Kragh gets close

However, most were waiting for Søren Kragh Andersen (Giant-Alpecin) as he had been four seconds faster than Phinney at the time check. However, he was unable to maintain the speed and missed out on taking the lead by 13 seconds.


Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) tested himslf and had a fine ride to take 7th but he was pushed down one spot by Ben King (Cannondale) who was 9 seconds faster. Geoffrey Curran (Axeon) did even better as his time of 25.17 was enough to slot into fourth.


Vermeulen comes up short

Danny Van Poppel (Sky) again showed his great form with a time of 25.57 but Petr Vakoc (Etixx-QuickStep) did even better with 25.37 which was good enough for seventh. Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) also ha d a fine ride with 25.35 which saw him slot into ninth.


Tiago Machado (Katusha) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) both had fine rides to make it into the top 15 but everybody was waiting for Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo) who had been fast at the time check. However, he lost ground in the finale and had to settle for 7th with 25.28.


Talansky takes the lead

Robin Carpenter (Holowesko) gauged his effort well to slot into fifth with 25.18 while Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Axeon) faded out of the top 10 after having posted a good time check. However, it was Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha) who got all the attention as he has had been a massive 27 seconds faster than Phinney at the time check. The headwind killed the Belgian though and when he crossed the line, his time of 25.05 was only good enough for fourth.


Lawson Craddock (Cannondale) had also been faster than Phinney at the time check but he also suffered in the headwind, stopping the clock in 25.00 to slot into fourth. Instead, it was his teammate Talansky who knocked Phinney out of the hot seat. Having posted the same time as Van den Broeck at the time check, the American champion beat the BMC rider by three seconds.


Dennis wins the stage

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) did well to slot into seventh with 25.17 but it was his teammate Dennis who stole the show. Despite posting an intermediate time that was 8 seconds slower than Van den Broeck and Talansky, the Australian powered through the headwind to lower the mark by a massive 17 seconds.


Neilson Powless (Axeon) continued his breakthrough ride by posting the 8th best time of 25.08 while Laurens Ten Dam (Giant-Alpecin) did one of the best TTs of his life to slot into 18th. Brent Bookwalter (BMC) confirmed the great day for BMC by stopping the clock in 24.59 which was good enough for fifth.


Peter Stetina (Trek) and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) both suffered on the flat course to finish outside the top 35 and so it was only Alaphilippe who was still on the course. The Frenchman did a fantastic time trial to take 8th and so retained the lead.



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