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Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) won the stage 6 individual time trial on Friday at the Amgen Tour of California. The American logged a time of 48:49 over the 31-kilometer course in San Jose.
Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) was second, at 23 seconds. Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) was third, at 28 seconds.
Van Garderen extended his overall lead to 1:47 over Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff) and 2:57 over Cameron Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), who vaulted up from fifth overall.
“I’m really struggling for words right now,” said van Garderen. “This feeling’s incredible. Now we just need to bring it home on Saturday.”
The San Jose course followed a circuitous route on the southeastern outskirts of the city and featured two main challenges: a technical descent near the halfway point and the 2.5km climb of Metcalf Road.
Scott Zwizanski (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) set the fast early time, finishing in 49:51.
Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge) bested the American by 29 seconds, signaling the start of the heavy hitters. Dennis started 47th and set a new best mark of 49:19. Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing) slotted in behind Dennis by 41 seconds.
Van Garderen was the last man down the start ramp at 3:02 p.m. The American, in yellow, rode a full time trial setup with a rear disc wheel. Much was made of equipment choice before the stage and van Garderen, second overall Michael Rogers (Saxo-Tinkoff), third overall Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman), and fourth overall Matthew Busche (RadioShack-Leopard) each started on their standard TT gear.
Fifth overall Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) rode his TT bike with deep-profile wheels, but no disc. He would go on to finish outside the top 20 and lose his spot in the top five of the GC.
Up the road, stage 1 winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) was blazing the course, setting the second fastest time at the intermediate check. The Dutch TT champion attacked the final climb and went under Dennis’ time by five seconds to take his place in the hot seat.
Meanwhile, van Garderen was taking time out of Rogers on the road and putting time into him on the general classification. With 10km to go, the American was up almost a minute.
“I was going entirely off of feel,” said van Garderen. “My wife, my daughter, and my mother-in-law came in this morning and gave me more motivation.”
Acevedo ran into difficulty just up the road, dropping his chain at the base of a short rise. He took a quick bike change, but lost at least 20 seconds on the change.
As soon as the top three hit the final climb, the planned bike changes started. Acevedo jumped from his TT bike and took a standard road frame. Rogers soon did the same. Each rider’s change took inside of six seconds.
Van Garderen, like Busche, continued onto the climb with his TT bike, hands spread into the bullhorns.
Meyer, who entered the day fifth overall, blitzed the climb, registering the third best time when he crossed the line. Busche lost more than two minutes and saw Meyer’s ride push him out of the top five.
Acevedo fought his way up the climb, but had dropped too much time leading into the finale. The race’s former overall leader crossed the line 2:18 off Westra’s time, giving up his overall podium spot for the night.
Rogers climbed out of the saddle and pushed for the top of Metcalf Road. But even with his bike change, Rogers appeared to be losing time on the climb.
“It was a hard time trial, a lot of wind. It was tough,” said Rogers.
The former TT world champion crossed the line in 49:57, third best to that point, but it was all van Garderen.
The American came through as the only man to go under 49 minutes, crossing the line in 48:49.
“It was brutal,” said van Garderen. “Actually, I felt the worst on the flat, headwind section. The climb I actually felt ok.”
Van Garderen’s teammate, Matthias Frank, used the TT to vault into fourth overall, behind Meyer. Acevedo fell to fifth overall, at 3:31.
The Amgen Tour of California continues Saturday with the 147km seventh stage, from Livermore to the hors-categorie summit finish on Mount Diablo.