Tyler Farrar (Garmin Sharp) has added to his team's success after its stage win in the Giro d'Italia today, sprinting to victory on Stage 4 of the Tour of California. The American posted a clear win ahead of Ken Hanson (Optum) and Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step). Peter Sagan (Cannondale) ended up fifth, but moved into the overall points classification lead.
Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) maintains his overall lead, while Bissell's Carter Jones kept the polka dot jersey thanks to some smart riding by his team.
Earlier in the day, Farrar's teammate Ramunas Navardauskas claimed Stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia, and the American was pleased to be able to add to the team's tally.
"Waking up to the news that Ramunas had won the stage in the Giro was a big morale boost to the team, and it was cool we were able to double up today," Farrar said following his own victory. It was the 28-year-old's first since the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in August last year and first-ever at the Tour of California.
"I'm psyched. I didn't have the spring I wanted, I was second, third, fourth. But in sprinting wins are what counts, and I'm happy to get the monkey off my back."
With 5km to go as the peloton weaved their way through the lush residential streets of Santa Barbara, the teams from Garmin Sharp, Cannondale, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step and Orica GreenEdge had their lead outs organised at the front of the race.
A large roundabout at 2.5km to go was taken advantage of by Matt Brammeier (Champion System) with the Irish Champion shooting up the inside lane and speeding past the bulk of the peloton which had taken the outside. Caught with a little over a kilometre remaining, Optum took to the front but essentially provided the perfect lead out for Farrar whose win did not look in doubt over the final few hundred metres.
Taking second was bittersweet for Hanson, who lived in Santa Barbara for five years up until December, and who knew "every crack in the road of the final kilometer".
"The guys did a great job for me today, but I got a little impatient and went a little too soon, maybe 50 meters too soon, and I just didn't have the finish speed to win. I'm really happy to get second place and I was really close. I'm looking forward to making amends tomorrow," Hanson said.
Many expected to see another stage win from Sagan, but his teammate Ted King said "hats off to Garmin" for getting the better of them.
"It was a tailwind for a really long time. Garmin had control, but after the final [uncategorized] climb there were a lot of teams just hitting out. It was a bit hectic and then a big tailwind into the finish. And the roundabout at 2.5km, I think that took a lot of people by surprise."
What looked like an attack from Champion System's Matthew Brammeier at that roundabout was actually a botched lead-out attempt, and the Irishman wasn't happy his effort went for naught. "I rode [the finish] a few weeks ago. I knew the left side of the roundabout was a lot faster, and I planned to go through there with a couple of my teammates to just try and catch everyone by surprise. And I did, but unfortunately my teammates where nowhere to be seen. They all got told last night that they needed to be with me, and they weren't. So I'm a little disappointed with the guys. If I'd had one guy with me we could have won the stage with me. So I'm a little pissed off."
How it unfolded:
When the riders awoke and stepped outside in Santa Clarita for stage 4 of the Tour of California, they must have breathed a collective sigh of relief. The searing temperatures of the past few days had been replaced with an ocean breeze blowing in, and readings much more in line for May in Southern California - a fine 70-degree day.
Green jersey wearer Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) kicked off the attacks with a dig as soon as the flag was dropped, and as has been the case Bontrager followed with Nathan Brown marking the move. UnitedHealthcare wasn't keen on the composition, and nailed the pair back, and the attacks came thick and fast for the next 15km in the crosswinds before the right formula emerged.
Frank Pipp (Bissell) sparked a move and was joined by yesterday's most courageous rider Chad Beyer (Champion System) and Brown. James Stemper (5 Hour Energy) attacked to bridge across, and possibly able to threaten the mountains jersey of Bissell's Carter Jones, he was quickly marked by Chris Baldwin (Bissell) and had Marsh Cooper (Optum) along as well. The trio joined the leaders to make a successful breakaway of six for the day.
Baldwin's presence in the race was a surprise, as he started only 3:19 down on the general classification and was the virtual leader for a time when the gap went to 3:30, but the Jamis team got plenty of help in controlling the gap from the WorldTour squads keen to get a stage in a bunch sprint, and his lead didn't last long.
Stemper took out the points for the first intermediate sprint, but he wasn't successful in stealing the mountains jersey from Jones. Baldwin sprinted away for the first prime ahead of Cooper, and then also took the second intermediate sprint, and then Brown attacked and went solo to the top of the final mountain sprint to take the maximum points ahead of Baldwin and Pipp.
His job done protecting the polka dot jersey, Pipp was the first rider to give up on the breakaway as Vacansoleil and Cannondale piled on the pressure from the peloton. RadioShack and Omega Pharma-Quickstep then pitched in and the gap plummeted to just 15 seconds with 20km to go, and the five remaining leaders were in sight.
As the bunch closed in, Stemper decided to put some new life into the move, and pushed the pace with an attack, but it only served to first dispatch Beyer then, set up a counter attack from Marsh and Brown. Brown left Cooper behind and went alone as the remaining escapees fought to get back on terms.
An attack from the field by Jens Voigt (RadioShack) could have sparked a selection, but when Garmin's Jacob Rathe tried to bridge he was followed by none other than Peter Sagan, and nobody wanted to take the 9-time Tour of California stage winner to the line.
Brown was swept up inside the final 10km, setting up the bunch gallop. GreenEdge, Quickstep and Optum took control for the lead-outs, but it was Garmin who won the day thanks to Farrar's impeccable timing.
"When your adrenaline is going and the line looks like it's right there, it's hard to be patient, but that's what it took today. I could feel it was a cross-headwind and I just waited as long as I could to come around."
Rider Name (Country) Team
Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
Ken Hanson (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling
Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Cycling Team
Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cannondale Pro Cycling
Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp-Endura
Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Jay McCarthy (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Tanner Putt (USA) Bontrager Cycling Team
Daniel Schorn (Aut) Team NetApp-Endura
Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura
Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
Laurent Didier (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura
Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Max Jenkins (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda
Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Scott Zwizanski (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Antoine Duchesne (Can) Bontrager Cycling Team
Chad Haga (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda
Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard
Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard
Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
Edward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Ryan Roth (Can) Champion System Pro Cycling Team
Luis Romero Amaran (Cub) Jamis-Hagens Berman
Leopold Konig (Cze) Team NetApp-Endura
David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura
Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) Champion System Pro Cycling Team