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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California's stage 4, which takes racers 121.5 miles (195.5km) from San Jose to Modesto.
Stage 4 will begin at 11:00 am local (Pacific) time. Our Cyclingnews' live coverage will start just before the stage.
The weather is gorgeous for today's stage. At the start line in San Jose, temperatures are in the mid 60s (degrees Fahrenheit), and there is no wind. There are beautiful, blue skies. Should be a great day for bike racing.
Racers will cover 121.5 miles (195.5km) as they race to Modesto, with two king of the mountain and two sprint contests en route. Within the early part of the race comes the Sierra Road grade - it will be a rude awakening for riders whose legs are not yet warmed up - with a steep ascent topping out at 1,930 ft at mile 8.1 past the start.
Flat and fast roads follow as the peloton moves toward Livermore, where there is a sprint. It'll be the first time the Amgen Tour of California visits Livermore.
Three minutes until the start. All the drivers and passengers in the vehicle caravan are being summoned to their respective cars as the countdown continues.
We start stage 4 with David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) in the yellow leader's jersey. He's got four seconds on Michael Rogers (Team HTC-Columbia) and six seconds on defending race champion Levi Leipheimer (Team Radioshack).
Racers are rolling out for the neutral start. It will last 3.2 miles (5.1km) - unless there are a lot of mechanical and clothing issues, like there were yesterday, when the race officially started a bit later than planned.
In case you missed it yesterday, our top three GC riders established a breakaway up and over the famous Bonny Doon climb. Though they had a two-minute margin at times, the gap shrunk until the finish in Santa Cruz, when it was just 17 seconds. However, that was enough for the favorites to take command of the head of the GC. Though all three started the day at the same time, the final sprint into Santa Cruz awarded precious time bonus seconds that determined the top three's order. The three time trialists sprinted each other, with Zabriskie edging out Rogers by less than a half-wheel's length in a photo finish. Leipheimer was third. Check out all the coverage from yesterday's stage 3 here.
Despite the fact that San Jose is the third largest city in California and the 10th largest in the nation, according to Wikipedia, there aren't many fans out here. We're guessing that if they came out, they headed to the Sierra Road climb, where they'll be able to catch some climbing action as it unfolds.
Some of you may remember that Sierra Road came at the end of stage 2 a few years ago in the Amgen Tour of California. That was when Robert Gesink went on to win the stage. This year it is at the start, so it may play a less decisive role in the stage's outcome - though we could see a break get away. There is an amateur time trial up the road - although may make it up around 30 minutes (plus or minus depending, of course, on fitness level), we expect the pros to probably do it in half that time.
Team Type 1's Davide Frattini, who ate up all the top king of mountain points during yesterday's stage as he worked to keep his teammate Thomas Rabou in the KOM jersey, had a flat at the start, but got a quick change and was off on his way.
Frattini was one of five riders who spent most of yesterday off the front in a break that was not caught until just before the final Bonny Doon climb. The others were Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Eric Boily (SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy), Will Routley (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies).
It's time to race. Rabobank doesn't waste any time as the team takes the chance to launch the first attack du jour.
Last year there was also a stage from San Jose to Modesto (stage 3), but it was shorter and featured less climbing. It ended in a bunch sprint won by Thor Hushovd (then Cervélo TestTeam). Oscar Freire (then Rabobank) was second and Mark Renshaw (then Team Columbia - Highroad) rounded out the top three.
Eight riders have gotten themselves a gap of about 50 meters.
The eight riders appear to be Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team), Ivan Santaromita (Liquigas-Doimo), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Christopher Baldwin (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis), Max Jenkins (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda), Scott Stewart (Team Type 1) and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies), but we're still confirming numbers.
Correction on our roster of break riders. Looks like they really are Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Max Jenkins (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis), Robert Britton (Bissell), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda), Scott Stewart (Team Type 1), Davide Frattini (Team Type 1) and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies). The riders have a one-minute gap.
Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo is back in a car again today following the race. Very excited to see a cyclo-crosser in the break, she'd like to send a shout out to Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda).
Of these riders, Lars Boom is the best on the GC. He was at 1:47 in 26th place, at the start of today's stage.
Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) attacks. His team manager Patrick Lefevere is in California - maybe giving a little extra motivation for his riders to give a good showing today.
The leaders have come back together - forming a group of seven as Davide Frattini (Team Type 1) has dropped off. The Canadian may be feeling the efforts of yesterday in his legs, but Team Type 1 still has representation in the break with Stewart.
The new time gap is 2:30 as the riders hit the steep grade of Sierra Road.
Wow is it steep. Makes our legs hurt just looking at it. However, it will level off for a bit coming up.
Scott Stewart (Team Type 1) is dropped from the break as those that can hold this pace continue to grow their lead. The break has 2:50.
The leaders see 1km to go to the top of the Sierra Road KOM. This climb is very open. There are no trees, just lots of grass, which in this case, also means lots of cows. At the top it narrows to one-car's width.
Max Jenkins (Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis) has fallen off the pace of the break, leaving us with five men.
We talked to various riders and team directors today who seemed mixed in their opinions about whether a break will stay away today. Only time will tell, but as this year's stage to Modesto is hillier and longer than last year's stage, a big bunch final sprint is less likely.
Our leaders have crested the first KOM, a cat. 1, of the day. Over the top, the peloton is one kilometre behind. We'll get you results for the KOM as soon as we can.
After winning yesterday's stage, a delighted Dave Zabriskie said, "I've been the runner up at the Tour of California a couple of times, but I've never won a stage and never touched the leader's jersey in the time the race has been going on. So just to touch the jersey is quite an honor."
His Garmin-Transitions team director, Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo this morning before the start of the stage that he'd be ok with a break going to the line today - as long as it did not threaten the overall GC. He's putting it at 50/50 as to whether the race will come back together at the end for a sprint. "It depends on (Mark) Cavendish," said Vaughters.
The five leaders flew down Sierra Road after the KOM at about 30mph. In case you are just joining us, our leaders are Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Robert Britton (Bissell), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies).
Allan Peiper, a director for HTC-Columbia said pretty much the same thing as Garmin-Transitions's Jonathan Vaughters before the start of the stage today. "We'll see how Mark Cavendish is doing over the climbs today," he said, indicating the team would play its options based Cav's status.
Behind our five leaders, two of the original break members, Scott Stewart and Davide Frattini (both Team Type 1), are on their own in a sort of no man's land. The peloton is all together, about four minutes behind the leaders.
We're on narrow, twisting roads, and we can see Calaveras Reservoir down below.
RadioShack Director Viatcheslav Ekimov talked to Cyclingnews before today's stage and said that he thought Garmin and HTC - as well as the other big teams with GC interests like his - would try to keep anyone threatening from going up the road and gaining too much time. "Now the gaps have opened and gotten bigger (in the GC), there will be more opportunities for bigger teams to send riders up the road - riders who are down on GC." Hitherto, we've only seen the small, more domestic teams being able to send riders off the front. "Whether there is a sprint today will depend on Cavendish," added Ekimov, backing up what the other team directors have said.
The two Team Type 1 racers are at 45 seconds, and the peloton is at 4:20 - all relative to the break. Given his GC standing at the start of today's stage, Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team) is the virtual race leader on the road by a few minutes. He's been doing a lot of work on the twisty, up and down roads though at the moment, the five leaders are trading pulls pretty evenly. The men in front are clearly not interested in waiting for the two Team Type 1 racers, but perhaps they will catch back up anyway as we're on a bit of a downhill.
Earlier today, we saw a fascinating stage 11 at the Giro d'Italia. Long distances and wet weather set the stage for a large breakaway to escape. The break's riders got a huge time gap, held onto most of it until the end, and as a result, the whole GC was shaken up. Read about it as it unfolded or see the post-stage race report.
We're in Alameda County, heading toward the town of Livermore. At mile 38.9, riders will have a chance to go for the first sprint of the day. The man currently atop the sprint classification is Mark Cavendish (Team HTC-Columbia) with 21 points. Trailing him are Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Doimo) and David Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) with 19 and 15 points, respectively. None of these men are in the break, which means they will likely not gain any further points in Livermore.
It seems like our Team Type 1 chasers of Scott Stewart and Davide Frattini are loosing some ground on the five leaders, though we don't presently have an updated time split. They are about a half-mile behind, in terms of distance on the road.
Livermore is the home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. According to the lab's website, a team of researchers including scientists from Russia and the United States (some from Livermore Lab) discovered the newest superheavy element, element 117 in April. The results came as part of a two-year experiment. That must mean that chemistry students will now need to remember another element on the periodic table!
Livermore is also home to the longest burning lightbulb. It's still going at the firehouse after 109 years.
The riders are getting a light cross/tailwind as they roll through what feels like some very wild country. It's coming up on lunch time as they get the green light to enjoy feeding from their team cars.
Our regulator is Jim Patton. He's doing the important job of keeping us the proper distance from riders out here on the road. He's on the moto ahead of the break. We're rolling up a slight climb and here there are some spectators, perhaps looking for a cast-off bottle as a souvenir. Next up is a wide open, five-lane descent.
Yesterday was a day for mountain bikers to be in the break. Today, we have some current and former cyclo-cross riders: Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) and Lars Boom (Rabobank). The latter has decided to shift his focus to the road, from 'cross after what has thus far been a very successful 'cross career.
Boom was World Champion in 'cross in 2008. He was also Dutch national 'cross champ so many times, we don't have enough fingers to count his titles and type at the same time. Boom is just 24, and earlier this season he got the best of everyone on day one at Paris-Nice.
There are lots of bots dots on the road - the raised road marker / reflectors common in California. Fortunately, the lanes are wide, and the break - at least - will have plenty of room to maneuver around them.
It's kind of chilly and sprinkling a bit, too. The fans we're passing are dressed in sweaters.
Last year, Mark Cavendish described the finish into Modesto as dangerous with wet turns and bots dots.
You'll notice that there are no Saxo Bank riders in today's break. We're not too surprised, though, as the team's Jens Voigt told us before the start today that Saxo Bank is under orders to not do anything today. Of course, Saxo Bank will try to keep JJ Haedo in there for the sprint, and unlike some others we spoke to today, Voigt is 100 percent sure it will come down to a sprint in Modesto.
Saxo Bank's Bobby Julich had still more to say on the subject. He reminded Cyclingnews' Kirsten Frattini before the start that JJ Haedo has won a stage at the Tour of California every year so far and that the team doesn't want to leave without winning a stage in 2010. "Today could be the last chance for the sprinters," he said. "Our team will try to get him the stage win today."
One kilometer to go for the break to the first sprint line of the day in Livermore. In contrast, the field is way back there - with 5km to go to the sprint.
Livermore sprint results are
1 Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team)
2 Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda)
3 Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies)
From Livermore, the race takes a turn upward generally - for about the next 20-25 miles. They will be going up for a long time - though without the award of any KOM points at the top. That doesn't bode too well for the Team Type 1 chasers, who are 1:45 back. They've been dropping further and further back from the leaders and it was on the first big climb of the day where they first fell off the pace of the leaders.
Speaking of Team Type 1, Thomas Rabou, the KOM leader at the start of the day, had told us before the start that he was warming up well this morning with the intention of trying to win KOMs in order to keep his mountains jersey. He's dedicating his rider here in the jersey to his mom, who is battling cancer back home in Holland.
Given the margin between the peloton and the break, it seems unlikely that Rabou will make it back to the front in time to get the KOM points coming up at mile 47.0 on Mines Road. Those are the last KOM points available today.
We saw Elvis outside of the Livermore Labs as we passed. Now we're seeing signs for "Andy". We wonder, are they for Andy Jacques-Maynes or Andy Schleck? Jacques-Maynes is more of a local, so we're putting our guess with him rather than the Luxembourger Schleck.
Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda), one of our break riders, took two victories at the 2009 U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. He also won a round of theNorth American Cyclocross Trophy series. The 26-year-old is a regular winner at races in his native New England, but he's also a favorite at the start of any North American 'cross race. He's a former Team Devo rider, who saw early success in his career on a mountain bike, such as when he won a round of the World Cup as a junior in California in 2001.
Catch some images from the start of today's stage in San Jose here. Among the photos are some of US Road National Champion George Hincapie, Race leader David Zabriskie (Garmin - Transitions) and yesterday's break rider Will Routley (Jelly Belly-Kenda).
The riders are on the climb, and the break sees 1km to go until the second and final KOM of the day. This climb seems steep, similarly to the Sierra Road, but it's steep part is much shorter. There are lots of fans out here - especially cyclists who have ridden out here to cheer on their favorites.
Another of our break's riders, Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step) hails from Belgium. He is 33 years old. He was third, earlier this year at Brabantse Pijl, where he was also in a long breakaway. He's hoping for a better 2010, after his 2009 season was interrupted by a broken collarbone at the Tour de France. He gained some fame as the first rider to withdraw from the French Grand Tour, just 35km into stage 2 - due to the injury.
Here are the KOM results for Mines Road.
1 Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies)
2 Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step)
3 Robert Britton (Bissell)
4 Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team)
Back in the peloton, there's been plenty going on. Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) was busy dealing with a rear tire puncture and our two Team Type 1 chasers were caught by the peloton. The gap between the leaders and the peloton stands at 6:00, slightly less than what it was earlier.
Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies) must have pegged it a little too hard on that KOM. He's dropped a bit off the other four leaders afterward and is at 30 seconds. Overall, the gap to the peloton is also down a bit - to 5:40.
Does Ryan Anderson's name sound familiar? If so, it might be because you were paying attention yesterday, when he was also in a long break away. Reminder from yesterday: The 22-year-old Anderson rides for Kelly Benefit Strategies. He joined the team in 2009. A Canadian, Anderson got his start racing a mountain bike at the Shock the Monkey mountain bike race at age 10 in Edmonton, Alberta according to his team.
No wonder he has dropped off the pace of his fellow break mates - two days in a row off the front takes a lot of energy.
We'd been on a narrow road following the side of canyon, but now we've dropped down into it. It's interesting how on the course profile, it looked like we would do a big climb with a KOM part-way up it, but the climbing that's come after the KOM in reality hasn't been too demanding. It's net uphill, sure, but it's got a lot of downhill interspersed - makes it not seem so tough. Except for Anderson, who is continuing to drift back toward the peloton - he seems to be done with the break today.
Rob Britton is a new signing to Team Bissell for 2010. He's the final member of our break today - from British Columbia in Canada. The 25-year-old says his favorite races are the Tour of Utah and Mt. Hood Classic. Maybe after being off the front in the Amgen Tour of California, he'll add this race to his list, too? Last year, he won stage 3 of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, which got him some attention. He also was first in the Tour of Walla Walla general classification.
We've gotten a rather unusual warning over race radio: we are now in open range country, and we're supposed to watch out for cattle. Keep your eyes open!
We're back in Santa Clara County, at least for a little while after being in Alameda County. The race is heading southeast - cutting off the upper, right corner - so to speak - of Santa Clara County (in which we also started the day). Next up is Stanislau County. This also means we're about at the halfway point for today's stage. The second half is net downhill - pretty much all the way to the finish.
The gap has been slowly shrinking over time. It's at 5:10 right now, which seems to indicate that the peloton is interested in bringing the break back. They still have plenty of time to do it, especially with lots of net downhill remaining in the stage.
The leaders have just passed over a few cattle guards. It's sprinkling a little bit, but it's not really wet, yet, so hopefully these won't pose any issue to the peloton.
At the front, the four leaders seem to be trading pulls evenly, rotating frequently. No rider looks to be more stressed than any of the others, even as the gap to the chasing peloton drops down below five minutes - to 4:50.
We've just gotten a word from one of the race's marshalls. Ramsey wrote, "As one of ATOC's Traveling Course Marshals I have found your updates insightful and invaluable. When stationed at a remote location, I rely on your reports to keep myself and the spectators aware of what's happening in the race. Alas, AT&T is not as reliable as you. Thanks!" It's great to hear from you, Ramsey - thanks for the good work out there.
HTC-Columbia is taking a turn at the front of the peloton. A Liquigas rider is behind him, followed by about six Garmin-Transitions riders all lined up in a row. The orange and blue and white jerseyed Garmin team is fully concentrating on protecting the GC lead of its Dave Zabriskie while HTC-Columbia will be interested in delivering it's sprinter Mark Cavendish to the finish for a possible stage win. Liquigas has a different agenda - it will be protecting the best young rider's jersey of Peter Sagan, who's had a fantastic Amgen Tour of California so far.
Tom Danielson (Garmin-Slipstream) talked to Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins before the start today. He noted how well his team has been doing this week. As if it's not obvious from the fact that the team has the overall lead presently with Zabriske, the team is happy because it has other riders are also well positioned in the GC, too. There are four Garmin riders in the top 10. In addition to the leader, the others are Ryder Hesjedal (6th), Peter Stetina (9th) and Tom Danielson (10th).
"That gives us more cards to play," said Danielson, before adding, "The time trial stage is well suited to Dave Zabriskie, so we are confident he can win the stage." That bodes well for Zabriske's chances at keeping the overall lead.
We haven't heard much from the United Health Care team today, but don't count them out. Brad White told us that the team is working to get Karl Menzies a stage win in Modesto. He is predicting that there will be a sprint finish. "Karl is looking really good and we will be giving him lots of help in the end," he said.
The next highlight en route is the sprint in the town of Patterson. That comes with 26 miles to go. It's the last intermediate sprint of the day. It'll be interesting to see if the peloton will try to catch the break before the sprint - that would give another chance for the favorites to score more points in the overall classification, but the advantage of letting the break stay off the front for longer is less potential chaos - late race attacks - leading up to the end of the stage in Modesto.
The peloton is riding in a long line down the twisting, mountainous roads as it works to reel back in the break. They've got the gap down to four minutes.
The gap is coming down more quickly now - it's at 3:35. This generally, long downhill section of the race is helping out the chase as the riders motor along in single-file. The usual suspects are at the front: Liquigas, HTC-Columbia and Garmin-Transitions. A posse of RadioShack riders is sitting behind them, protecting their favorite, Levi Leipheimer.
One team we haven't seen near the front much today is Cervelo. The team's director Jean-Paul Van Poppel told Cyclingnews that he's very happy with the team's Tour of California so far. He pointed to the stage win and a day in yellow by Brett Lancaster.
He noted that the team's GC guy, Philip Deignan got sick before the race and has been competing while on antibiotics, losing a bunch of time.
Heinrich Haussler is one of the other favorites on the team, but he's had a problem with his knee this season and has only been back on his bike for four weeks. Cervelo is deliberately holding him back, but the team did say it would help HTC-Columbia bring the break back in order to set up the final sprint for Theo Bos.
The peloton is sub-two minutes, at 2:45, behind the four leaders. The break riders are still committed to working together, taking turns at the front and pedalling furiously in an effort to stay off the front as long as they can.
The peloton has backed off the intensity a bit - the riders are spread wide across the road again - no more single-file speed train. They're also on the tops of the brake hoods, looking fairly chill.
George Hincapie (BMC) is an easy rider to pick out of the bunch. His stars and stripes jersey - that of US road National Champion - make him easy to spot.
Cyclingnews' Laura Weislo is in Patterson, where the intermediate sprint will happen shortly. "It's raining. The roads aren't wet yet, but it's coming down pretty steadily."
The leaders are eight minutes behind the slowest predicted timetable today. Let's just say, it hasn't been the fastest stage ever. But don't worry, even if the TV coverage cuts out at the end of the stage due to the riders' tardiness, we at Cyclingnews will still be here to bring you full live coverage, until the very end.
One kilometer to go until the sprint for the leaders. There are strong crosswinds along the route just past Patterson. That could make it interesting heading into Modesto.
Patterson Sprint results are
1 Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team)
2 Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step)
3 Robert Britton (Bissell)
Our break riders are working hard on these palm tree-lined streets. Lars Boom (Rabobank) has been pushing the pace in the last few miles. His efforts have paid off a bit as the gap is up now, to 3:20. As the virtual yellow jersey on the course, he is very motivated. If he could stay away with enough time, he could take over the GC lead.
The riders will make a left hand turn into a steady wind, which they'll face for 10 miles. We're passing the cattle ranches now, but not the free range type.
There is a crash in the peloton!
A lot of riders were affected. Probably a good dozen went down at the right side of the road, and many got hung up behind it. Everyone seems to be getting up, picking up their gear and trying to get back underway as soon as possible.
Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) was in the crash. As was Theo Bos, who is now getting service from his team car as he rides along Two of his teammates are waiting with him.
Despite the crash, the peloton doesn't seem to have let up too much. Another rider, Jason McCartney (RadioShack) was one of the riders in the crash - he is working his way back up, too. All the crashed riders are working their way up through the carousel.
At least three Fly V riders were in the crash and are about to regain contact with the main peloton. Fortunately, the rain has let up.
The front end of the peloton has worked hard to close the gap back down to 2:35.
They've got the crosswind and RadioShack has come to the front. They've got at least four riders driving the pace.
There's a bit of a split in the main peloton and yellow jersey David Zabriskie is gapped.
Fortunately, Zabriskie is a time trialist, and he puts in a massive effort to close back up to the front end of the peloton.
Our four leaders Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Robert Britton (Bissell), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) have spent almost the entire day off the front. Their gap is down to1:20.
That crosswind section caused a split in the peloton, but now there is a headwind, so it is more likely to come back together. There are maybe 10 seconds between the parts of the peloton.
Less than a minute separates the leaders from the peloton.
The split in the peloton is closed. Just 40 seconds separate the leaders from the reunited peloton.
The riders will have a finishing circuit today in Modesto. It's 2.8 miles long and they'll come onto it and then see two laps to go.
There is a brief split among the four leaders. The Bissell and Rabobank riders give it a go, but the Quick Step rider closes the gap and all four are together again. These leaders are starting to see the writing on the wall. They can see the peloton behind them now.
There's a split again in the break. It's Britton and Boom, gapping the other two.
Boom looks over his shoulders and backs it off a bit. Then Britton does the same.
The four reunited leaders have been given a little more time by the peloton to hang out off the front. Their gap is back up to 55 seconds, and Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) decides it's time for a snack.
The four leaders are back up to having a one-minute advantage. The peloton is torturing these poor men, whose legs must be feeling the day's efforts.
The peloton has sat up. It's spread wide across the road again. They must have decided to delay the catch until closer to the finishing circuit.
There are some bots dots near the end of the stage - hopefully these won't cause any problem at the finish. Bots dots stick up from the road - they are abrupt to hit on a bicycle - especially at speed.
There are 20km to go. RadioShack, HTC-Columbia, Garmin-Transitions and Kelly Benefit Strategies are among the teams represented at the front of the peloton, still spread wide across the road.
From above, the front of the peloton looks striped in different color schemes, with each team all lined up, one next to the other, left to right, across the road.
The four leaders are back to doing their thing... trading pulls, but then Jeremy Powers is dropped by the other three leaders.
Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) takes a turn driving the lead.
Lars Boom (Rabobank) says 'hey, not so fast' and counter attacks. He gaps Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) and Robert Britton (Bissell).
Boom is not giving up. Should he hold on until the end of the stage, he won't get the race lead, but he'd probably be very happy with a stage win after his long day off the front.
Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda) is swallowed up by the peloton.
Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) pulls himself and Robert Britton (Bissell) back up to Boom.The peloton has closed the gap to 45 seconds.
The three leaders are still together at the front with 12.0km to go and a 35-second gap. HTC-Columbia is all lined up at the front, along with RadioShack. HTC will be setting up Mark Cavendish and protecting Mick Rogers while RadioShack is protecting Levi Leipheimer.
Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) gives it a dig. He's determined to give everything in an attempt to stay away until the end.
25 seconds and dropping is the gap. The three leaders are about to hit the finishing circuits. Boom launches an attack on his break mates.
Boom is on his own, in front of the other two leaders, but they are not giving up as they chase him. The peloton is just 20 seconds behind Boom.
Two laps to go on the finishing circuit.
Boom looks back. Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step) and Robert Britton (Bissell) are about to get swallowed up. Boom has just 10 seconds over the peloton.
Boom is still not giving up. He's still pedalling and trying to stay away from the peloton.
But Boom looks back and decides enough is enough. He swings off to the side and gets caught.
There's a crash. Yaroslav Popovych (Team Radioshack) goes down and then has to deal with mechanical issues with his bike. He won't catch back up a this point.
Five Cervelo Test Team riders take to the front of the peloton.
They're on the final circuit. Fabian Cancellara has a flat tire and ejected out of the back of the peloton.
A Rabobank rider launches a solo attack off the front. That may throw a wrench into the plans of the sprinters as they line up their trains.
It's Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team), but the peloton is reeling him back in.
Cervelo Test Team is still doing the bulk of the work at the front.
Paul Martens (Rabobank Cycling Team) counters and goes off the front.
Three riders go down, including Lance Armstrong, and two others. Armstrong is ok and back up. No one seems hurt and they are within 3km, so no penalty.
Quick Step comes to the front. They'll be setting up Tom Boonen.
Liquigas is at the front, too, but surprisingly, we don't see a lot of HTC-Columbia riders yet.
HTC moves up. It's a mix of riders at the front of the peloton.
HTC-Columbia leads it out.
It's wide across the road.
Liquigas takes it. It's Italian Francesco Chicchi taking the win.
It looks like JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) was second and Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) was third.
Four of RadioShack's riders roll in's four rolls in now, but they'll get the same time as the leaders given the timing of their crash, within the final 3km.
There should be no change in the overall classification, with Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) keeping the yellow jersey.
We have the provisional top 10 for the stage asStage 4 Brief Results # Rider Name (Country) Team Result 1 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 2 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank 3 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia 4 Theo Bos (Ned) Cervelo Test Team 5 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Fly V Australia 6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) BMC Racing Team 7 Ken Hanson (USA) Team Type 1 8 Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quick Step 9 Alex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies 10 Guillaume Boivin (Can) SpiderTech Powered by Planet Energy
The provisional top 10 for the GC areGeneral classification after stage 4 # Rider Name (Country) Team Result 1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions 18:04:35 2 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:04 3 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Team Radioshack 0:00:06 4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:21 5 Marc De Maar (Ned) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis 0:00:24 6 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team Radioshack 0:00:27 7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions 8 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Unitedhealthcare Presented by Maxxis 9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin-Transitions 10 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Transitions
That wraps up our Cyclingnews live coverage for stage 4. Please join us again for live coverage for stage 5 tomorrow (Thursday). Racers will again cover 121.5 miles (195.5 km), but this time from Visalia to Bakersfield. The race will start at 10:45 am local (Pacific) time, and we'll begin live coverage just before that.