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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews.com’s live coverage of the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under. Today, we’ll put you in the box seat for Stage 4, from Norwood in Adelaide’s east for the 130 kilometre journey to Tanunda in the famous Barossa Valley.
It’s all set for a cracker of a Stage, with two KOM’s and two intermediate sprints set to offer plenty of opportunities for the peloton to split up and time bonuses to be gained. The day before a queen stage can often be a waiting game but everything is pointing to today’s stage being cycling’s answer to a game of chess.
Once again, I’ll give you the chance to win a pair of Bont Vapours, plus announce the winner from Stage 3 meantime you can join the conversation on Twitter by using #cyclingnewstdu or hit me up directly via @janeaubrey.
Given it's once again a day for the breakaway, expect someone from UniSA to put their hand up. We spoke to team manager Dave Sanders before today' start.
"We’re going for the teams classification at this point," he explained with UniSA just over one minute ahead. "We’ll be putting guys in the break in case it goes away to protect that lead. It’s 50/50 as to whether something stays away over Menglers."
We're about 4km away from the end of the neutral zone folks!
Did someone say action? Jen Voigt offered his thoughts on what's ahead on Stage 4...
“For sure there will be some action going on today. A lot of people are interested in Andre Greipel not taking 10 more seconds bonus on the finishing line today. Teams are aware of this problem. He has won the Tour Down Under twice before so he knows how to do it again. Don’t believe him when he says that the Willunga stage tomorrow is too hard for him!”
Race is go!
UniSA on the attack and it's Lachlan Norris from the gun
Luca Paolini (Katusha) has just joined Norris
Around seven riders are now looking to join Norris and Paolini... We knew this would be on...
The chasing seven has been caught by the peloton... Norris and Paolini have around 200m advantage.
Romain LeMarchand (AG2R - La Mondiale) and stage 2 winner Will Clarke (UniSA) are trying to move across to Norris and Paolini...
Nope, that's failed too... Norris and Paolini have a 400m gap.
Try and try again... someone, anyone...
Omega Pharma - QuickStep driving the peloton... the gap may be closing...
Omega Pharma - QuickStep's Julien Vermote joins Norris and Paolini. The three have a 16 second advantage.
Romain Sicard (Euskaltel - Euskadi) attacks... he's just joined the escape
Paolini has been dropped...
Looks like we're going to be all back together...
Will Clarke (UniSA) is in difficulty according to race radio... he's not the only one though. Race back together.
Maxim Belkov (Katusha) attacks
In an injury update, Frederic Guesdon was visited in hospital last night by his FDJ-BigMat teammates. He'll undergo surgery this afternoon to clean his wounds and with any luck, he'll return to France on January 25 if he gets the all clear. We wish him well!
There's around 25 riders off the back of the peloton, so the pace is hot!
A GreenEdge and Lampre-ISD rider are trying to move across the Belkov
Race all together.... again!
Which riders have exited TDU prior to Stage 4 please? Petacchi gone? tx #cyclingnewstdu
@prayb143 Fri, 20th Jan 2012 01:05:38
131 riders at the startline today, as per Stage 3 - Guesdon and Roelandts the withdrawals following the Stage 1 crash.
Here's a quick snapshot of the top 10 on GC after Stage 3...
1 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 11:54:52
2 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC 0:00:08
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank 0:00:12
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil -DCM 0:00:14
5 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEDGE 0:00:16
6 Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack-Nissan
7 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
8 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha (Rus) Katusha
9 Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA - Australia 0:00:17
10 Xavier Florencio Cabrè (Spa) Katusha 0:00:20
Peloton spread over about 400m at the moment
Just got word of around 30 riders creating a small gap on the main bunch...
He wasn't kidding...
Edvald Boasson Hagen: “We’ve got a hard start. It’ll be interesting to see if someone also goes hard on Mengler’s Hill. I don’t know if we’ll climb fast enough to drop Greipel off. He’s in good shape but hopefully he’ll get dropped. It’s still quite open on GC. Today might be a good opportunity for me to grab some time bonus and put myself ahead of the other favourites.”
Back together but two riders are attempting another break
Those two are Sandy Casar (FDJ - BigMat) and Matteo Montaguti (AG2R-LaMondiale) they've got 7secs
Adrian Aaez from Euskaltel-Euskadi tries to move across...
We're just under 5km from the first sprint of the day at Kersbrook...
We're down to two riders in that break... not sure who's given up.
Weatherzone’s Brett Dutschke is back with today’s weather report, here’s what the peloton is set to experience out on the road today. Wind direction will remain south-south-easterly, averaging 25-to-35km/h with gusts to about 50km/h. That speed and direction will make the ride just as challenging as Stage 3.
For the 47km climb from Norwood to Mt Crawford, an elevation of 500 metres, it will be a cross-tail breeze, coming over the cyclists right shoulder. When they leave Mt Crawford and head to Mt Pleasant it will turn into a cross-head wind. Then for the next 50km, which includes a descent to Lyndoch and gentle climb to Bethany, south-south-easterlies should ease a little to 20-to-30km/h with 45km/h gusts and this will generally be a tail-breeze. The final 30km loop into Tanunda will be a mix of cross, tail and head winds.
With Stage 4 looking just as breezy as Stage 3, it is also looking noticeably warmer, five-to-10 degrees warmer. The temperature will be hovering in the high 20s for the first 80km to Williamstown then warming to 31-or-32 degrees for the last 50km.
Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) takes the first sprint of the day ahead of Michael Matthews (Rabobank)
Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was the third rider across the line at the sprint point
30 sec gap to Jay McCarthy (UnniSA), Gatis Smukulis (Kathusa) and Ruben Perez (Euskaltel-Euskadi)
Blel Kadri (AG2R-La Mondiale) attempts to bridge the gap
Just going back to Ruben Perez, he is one man who knows how to stay away from the bunch.
Last season, the Spaniard spent 704km off the front. That puts him right up there with other top baroudeurs including Jeremy Roy and Johnny Hoogerland.
Kadri's made it... The four now have 15sec on the peloton
Results of the first KOM at Kersbrook... McCarthy, Perez, Kadri, Smukulis
Casar has dropped back to the bunch
Gap now at 1:50
Are there time bonuses for intermediate sprints? #cyclingnewstdu
@pelotonimages Fri, 20th Jan 2012 01:26:43
There sure are... 3, 2 and 1
The next sprint is at the 51km mark at Mt Pleasant
Could it be Heinrich Haussler's day today?
“A few sprinters can be up there today. I’ll be one of them! Stirling was the best finish for me but it was my fault that I was too far back. But today is another possibility for me to win. It’s slightly uphill in Tanunda. It suits me.”
Gap now at 3:40
Still going out 3:55 now
Now for some housekeeping... Did you enter our daily competition yesterday for the pair of very schmick Bont Vapours?
We have a winner! John Hatton (@jonohat7) drop me a DM and I'll let you know what we need so we can get your prize to you asap! Congratulations...
I'll have another question for you just before we get to Menglers...
Gap is now at 4:05
Lotto Belisol doing the work at the front of the peloton
Gap at 3:40
Gap coming down... 3:20
According to adelaidenow.com.au thumbtacks & nails used to sabotage TDU route today - cleanup underway. #cyclingnewstdu
@mikeyd360 Fri, 20th Jan 2012 02:05:53
That is not cool... Really?
Gap at 2:55
And we have the results of the second intermediate sprint of the day: Perez, Kadri, McCarthy
Gap at 2:40... Have a funny feeling these guys are going to be brought back by Menglers Hill and then another break will go. We'll see...
The peloton heading through the feed zone has allowed the break an extra 5seconds
#TdU stage 4, 60kms in and the calm between 2 storms. All eyes now on Menglers Hill. Fireworks for sure. Saxobank boys ready.
@Bradley_McGee Fri, 20th Jan 2012 02:24:18
Garmin-Barracuda and Lotto Belisol controlling the peloton...
Gap still heading south, but steadily at 2:35
If Greenedge are sitting back, does this mean that they're planning to smash it on the run up to the hill? #cyclingnewstdu
@youngod8 Fri, 20th Jan 2012 02:28:40
They've done a bit of work this morning, Stuart O'Grady is just refuelling so maybe he'll be one to watch. Check out what Cameron Meyer and Matt White had to say yesterday afternoon...
Ok so today’s trivia question for a pair of Bont Vapours...
In 2002, who was the top-placed UniSA rider on the stage from Gawler to Tanunda?
Gap holding at 2:20
Sky's Mathew Hayman has just called up the car for feeding...
Thank you so much for the shoes #cyclingnewstdu. i am rapt
@jonohat7 Fri, 20th Jan 2012 02:38:47
Gap at 2:10
Just 50km to go now... Gap at 1:45
Keep those answers coming in for the Bont Vapours and no, I won't accept bribes. We'll announce a winner during tomorrow's stage...
Gap at 1:30
There's three rail crossings the peloton needs to negotiate in the run in to Mengler Hill... Let's hope it goes smoothly!
The peloton will hit the first one at Lyndoch in 2km time... Ahhh Lyndoch... beautiful part of the world...
Gap at 1:15... Time to feel the rush!
Time to get the thinking caps on... Who will win today?
I'd like EBH to come good for Sky but I reckon that Gerro has a really good chance #cyclingnewstdu
@orbitalpaul Fri, 20th Jan 2012 03:08:17
The gap is in yo-yo mode between 1:10 and 1:20...
Lampre-ISD are on the front of the bunch...
#cyclingnewstdu why not Freire? if they make it tough enough at the end...
@Monecillo Fri, 20th Jan 2012 03:11:20
A good choice in my opinion... And he told us earlier -
"I’m excited for today. I think it’s the stage that really suits me. I’m getting better every day."
Gap still coming down at 55 seconds
Motorbikes are being pulled out of the gap now... Gap at 100m... Goodnight!
Race all together
GreenEdge are driving the peloton again. This has caused riders from Euskaltel-Euskadi and UniSA to drop off the back
Peloton makes a righthand turn onto the climb for Mengler Hill
Big accelaration now from Movistar... Do we need to keep an eye on Rojas?
A little about Mengler Hill... It was previously known as Mengler's Hill - not sure why they changed it. The climb is 2.63km with an average gradient of 7.1%
Rohan Dennis (UniSA) attacks!
Uh oh... Andre Griepel is not in the lead group of riders on the climb which at this stage numbers around 40.
Getting reports through that Andre, the Gorilla, is as much as 2mins down... wow
Hearing a 2second gap between Greipel's group of around 80 riders and the lead group of 40.
Ouch big difference. Make that 52 seconds... Crackling radio!
Greipel is calling for the whiteboard. He wants to know the time gaps..
Just waitinng for the kilometres to go but the gap is out to 1:10
Strangely looked like UniSa driving on the bottom of the descent. #tdu #cyclingnewstdu
@al_hinds Fri, 20th Jan 2012 03:41:02
Gap at 1:10
Race radio says the chase group has stopped working. Just trying to find out who is in this lead group for you but think you can count on Rohan Dennis (UniSA) and Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge)...
Lead group being driven by BMC
RadioShack-Nissan also leading the charge
About to head onto the Baross Valley Highway
Greipel group is sitting up
Sprint finish coming...
Group of 40 coming in as one
Oscar Freire wins!
Information really sketchy today folks over the last 30 or so kilometres...
Greipel group has just crossed the line 7 minutes in arrears...
Still trying to get today's minor place getters for you.
Meantime, stay tuned tomorrow for today's winner from the Bont trivia comp.
Ok, my moles at the finish are telling me Daniele Bennati (RadioShack-Nissan) and Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma QuickStep) for second and third. That's not comfirmed though?
Martin Kohler (BMC) back in the race lead.
Thanks for joining us for Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under!
More trivia and news tomorrow during Stage 5 to Willunga!