Tour of California 2012, Stage 5: Individual Time Trials On Rugged 18.4-Mile Stretch

As he has all week, Peter Sagan of Slovakia sits atop the leaderboard heading into Thursday's Stage 5 of the eight-stage Tour of California.

Stage 5, held in Bakersfield, is a bit of an outlier compared to the other stages. It is an individual time trial and, according to this stage description, should be a lung-buster:

Right from the start, the riders will go from zero to nearly 60 mph in a matter of seconds. The start ramp will launch them onto an immediate descent to Alfred Harrel Highway. From there, it will be a straight - but not exactly flat - route to the turnaround point at Lake Ming....

The route is full of 100-foot rollers, and as the riders approach the finish, they'll be able to see it...up on a 300-foot bluff. The prepared rider will have saved a little for the China Grade, which presents an eight percent climb to the top and then a hard left, and it won't be over there. The riders will still face a slightly uphill, .44-mile run to the finish.

For those hoping to watch the action: Live TV coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Central on NBC Sports Network. It will re-air at 10:30 Central. Viewers can also stream the Tour -- or view oodles of highlights and videos -- at the Tour of California "Race Video" page.

Additional television coverage info is available here, and a complete leaderboard is available here.

For more information on the 2012 Tour of California, check out this SB Nation Minnesota story stream.

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