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Complete Live Report
Start location: Santa Barbara
End location: Santa Clarita
Welcome to live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California stage 4, a route that starts along the coastline but takes the peloton inland for four KOM ascents and two intermediate sprints before the finish.
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Good morning, afternoon or evening depending on where you are from around the world. Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the fourth stage of the Amgen Tour of California.
The riders are assembling on the start line in Santa Barbara, preparing for the 159.9km stage.
There is two minutes to the neutral start.
To recap, here is the top five in the overall classification following stage 3 where Peter Sagan took the stage win in his world champion jersey.
Tour of California overall classification after stage 3:
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 12:22:43
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:02
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 0:00:14
4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 0:00:16
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:45
And the race has started.
It is a gorgeous, sunny day in Santa Barbara, and the peloton and fans are treated to a lovely view of the coast to kick off the day's event.
It's warm, but not too warm, at 73 fahrenheit, and there is an ever-so-slight breeze coming off of the calm ocean.
The start out of Santa Barbara is rolling with narrow residential roads, many lined with palm trees.
The riders have completed the neutral zone and the race has officially begun.
We received a warm welcome in Santa Barbara this morning
It's easy to lose sight of the riders with all the twists and turns up ahead. That could mean that attacks will start early on.
But the riders have covered two kilometres and the race is all together.
Let's talk a little bit about the course. Once out of Santa Barbara, the riders will start the first of four KOM ascents of the day - Casitas Pass Rd, 16.5km. This climb is 4.1km with 5.1% average grade.
After a short descent, the peloton will begin climbing again, this time covering the final section of Casitas Pass Rd, which summits at the 19km mark. This section of the climb is 1.7km and 6.1% average grade.
The racers have now hit the 7km mark and small gaps are starting to form off the front of the peloton.
Originally four riders made a strong move and they have since been joined by two more riders, forming a breakaway of six with a 25-second lead.
Event officials have said that Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and Johannes Frohlinger (Team Sunweb) did not sign in for the start of stage 4.
The leaders are at the 10km mark and they have a slim 10-second gap.
Shortly, they will make a righthand turn on to Hwy 192 - Casitas Pass Rd, left on to Hwy 150 and then right back on to Hwy 192 for the start of the first KOM.
The breakaway riders have pushed their lead out to 25 seconds.
The riders in the breakaway are:
Rob Britton (Rally)
Evan Huffman (Rally)
Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare)
Lennard Hofstede (Team Sunweb)
Mathias Le Turnier (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
Martin Elmiger (BMC)
The six leaders have 40 seconds as they head toward the foothills of the first ascent.
The six riders have started the first section of the climb up Casitas Pass Rd. The climb is 4.1km and 5.4% average grade.
15 riders have already been dropped from the main field. The six leaders are holding strong at 40 seconds ahead.
UnitedHealthcare is setting the pace at the front of the main field, likely for their climber Daniel Jaramillo.
The breakaway has one kilometre to go to the first summit.
Jaramillo is currently leading the mountain classification with a total of 24 points.
Mountain classification after stage 3:
1 Daniel Jaramillo (Col) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team - 24
2 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data - 16
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe - 12
The breakaway has crested the first climb. Jaramillo's trusty UHC teammate Mannion took full points ahead of Britton, Huffman and Hofstede.
While the breakaway is currently making their way down toward the second KOM, also on Casitas Pass Rd, there is one rider from Team Sky trying to bridge the gap.
The second KOM is only 1.7km but has a steeper grade at 6.1%, and the riders will summit at the 31km mark.
The breakaway has one kilometre to go to the summit. Behind, the main field is splitting.
BMC has confirmed via Twitter that Brent Bookwalter is indeed still in the race.
Huffman took the full KOM points over Casitas Pass Rd, ahead of Mannion and Hofstede.
There are now only five riders left in the breakaway, as BMC's Martin Elmiger has been distanced off the back.
Quick-Step Floors is now leading the main field.
Britton, Huffman, Mannion, Hofstede and Le Turnier are on the descent and are racing toward the rolling terrain toward Ojai, where the first intermediate sprint is located.
They have made some good ground ahead of the main field with a 2:15-minute gap.
For those who are also following the Tour of Norway, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) won the opening stage and is now leading the overall classification.
In addition, Marta Bastianelli (Ale Cipollini) won the opening stage at Emakumeen Bira.
Back to stage 4 at the Amgen Tour of California, the five-rider move has established a lead of 3:40 ahead of the field.
#AMGENTOC we've already covered two of today's categorized ⛰ & the breakaway's advantage is up to 2'15" with 120km still to race.
@BMCProTeam Wed, 17th May 2017 19:35:30
- 37.6km remaining from 159.5km
The riders are now 38km into the stage and heading toward the first intermediate sprint in Ojai. That sprint will happen in approximately 20km.
We've got Lennard Hofstede in today's #AmgenTOC breakaway. He's up the road in a group of 5 with a 3'40" lead, 118km from the finish.
@TeamSunweb Wed, 17th May 2017 19:38:26
- 117.5km remaining from 159.5km
The breakaway has pushed their lead out to 4:40. They are working well together, with the advantage going to Rally because they have two riders in the move. From here until the next KOM in about 50km, the breakaway riders can expect either flat to rolling terrain.
This type of terrain is well-suited to the five strong riders in the move. They are clearly committed as their gap has now increased to more than five minutes.
Our Cyclingnews reporter Ted Burns spoke with breakaway rider Gavin Mannion (UHC) this morning. Here is what he had to say:
"I think at the end of the day it will be a sprint but there will probably be a breakaway that gets established, it's good day for the KOM jersey and that is a big one for us this week. I will be trying to help my teammate [Daniel] Jaramillo take some KOM points."
Breakaway rider Evan Huffman (Rally) has had a great start to his season with the overall victory at the Tour of the Gila, he set himself up for that win after crushing the stage 3 time trial.
Huffman's teammate Rob Briton won the mountain classification at the Tour of the Gila, and was fifth overall, showing that he is starting to come in to good form ahead of the summer season.
He won that stage race last year, was third overall at the USA Pro Challenge in 2015 and fifth overall at the Tour of Utah in 2016.
Rally director, Eric Wohlberg spoke with our Cyclingnews reporter Ted Burns ahead of stage 4 in Santa Barbara and predicted,
"Today's stage is going to be a tough one. Especially the sprint at the top of Grimes Canyon, that is more of a KOM than a sprint, really. We've ridden those rides a lot in our training camp and have previewed the course. The guys are familiar with it and I think we are going to have a little bit of action from Rally today."
The sprint to Grimes Canyon is the second intermediate sprint of the day at 111.5km, following the first in Ojai at the 59km mark.
Speaking of which, the breakaway has just gone through the first sprint in Ojai. Le Turnier took full points ahead of Huffman and Hofstede.
The five men have increased their lead to 6:50.
The Rally duo of Huffman and Britton are pulling the breakaway toward the third KOM at Ojai Santa Paula Summit, 64km mark. That climb is 2.3km and 5.2% average grade.
Huffman crossed the line first over the ascent, also called Denison Grade Summit, so as not to confuse everyone. Mannion was second and Hofstede third.
- 94.5km remaining from 159.5km
Mannion has also shown strong early-season form after he placed third overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race and fourth overall at the Tour of the Gila.
Wow! The five men have pushed their lead out to nine minutes.
But there is still roughly 90km of racing left that includes a final KOM ascent over Balcom Canyon Rd, at the 97km mark. This climb is only 1.1km but averages 11.1%, and could be a good place to make a mid-race attack either from the breakaway or the main field.
There is also an intermediate sprint at Grimes Canyon Rd, at the 111.5km mark. Although it will be contested as a sprint, it is a challenging section of road.
Following the sprint, there is roughly 50km of gently rising terrain to the finish line in Santa Clarita, back on the coast.
It's been a while since we've seen the front of the main field. Quick-Step Floors, Katusha and Bora-Hansgrohe are keeping tabs at the front. These teams all have world-class sprinters.
Quick-Step Floors' Marcel Kittel won the opening stage this week in Sacramento. World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won yesterday's stage 3 in Morro Bay. But Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) has, so far, been sprinting outside the podium this week and will be looking for a stage win.
This stage's route was used in the 2015 Tour of California where Mark Cavendish won the bunch sprint.
- 78.5km remaining from 159.5km
The five riders in the breakaway are steadily holding 8:30 ahead of the main field. They are rolling down a gradual descent off of the Ojai Summit, exiting Santa Paula.
There were big crowds out to cheer the riders on in Santa Paula. The schools even let their students out to support the race.
The gap is continuing to drop, now at 7:30. Will this race come down to a bunch sprint like it did in 2015?
- 76.5km remaining from 159.5km
They seem to be holding 7:30 but it won't be easy to maintain a large gap after the climbs, once the teams with strong sprinters start to get organized and chase on the route to Santa Clarita.
#AMGENTOC the peloton has reacted with the gap coming down to 7'30" over the last 10km.
@BMCProTeam Wed, 17th May 2017 20:46:28
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), a favourite to win today's stage, has gotten a flat tire. He is currently at the side of the road getting some assistance.
The breakaway is off the descent from Ojai Santa Paula Summit and making their way toward the fourth and final KOM at Balcom Canyon Rd. This climb is 1.1km at averages 11.8%
The breakaway went over Balcom Canyon with Mannion taking full points ahead of Huffman and Hofstede.
Tour of California officials have commented on the horrifying crash that led to Cannondale-Drapac's Toms Skujins' concussion during stage 2 on Tuesday.
They said that a "perfect storm" led to the dangerous situation for Skujins, who crashed on a high-speed descent and tried several times to remount his bike only to stumble and fall, nearly being clipped by a moto and other riders on the descent behind. Although he did eventually continue, he was later pulled from the race.
- 50.5km remaining from 159.5km
The breakaway has lost two more minutes to their lead, now ahead of the main field by 5:30 minutes.
There is one kilometre to go to the second and final intermediate sprint of the day at Grimes Canyon Rd.
It will be a challenging sprint, with short pitches before and after the line.
Look to see a possible attack from one of the Rally duo of Evan Huffman and Rob Britton at or following the Grimes Canyon Rd sprint.These two breakaway riders have previewed this stage several times during their spring training camp. Both are strong contenders for a stage win here.
That's if they can hold off a motivated peloton with several teams in pursuit of a bunch kick in Santa Clarita.
- 44.5km remaining from 159.5km
Leading the main field are teams Katusha and Trek-Segafredo. They have put a big dent into the breakaway, pulling them back to within four minutes.
Points classification after stage 3:
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 27
2 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 16
3 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 15
The speeds are so fast over Grimes Canyon Rd that the peloton is splitting and many riders have been shelled off the back.
The final 40km of this stage are not easy with a fairly steady, gradual uphill all the way in to Santa Clarita.
What is left of the main field is now 3:55 behind the five breakaway riders. They are on a wide, open and exposed road that is undulating, for the moment, but will eventually take a turn steadily upward.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) is taking in fluids and is sitting in the middle of the field surrounded by several teammates. Sagan, stage 3 winner, is a favourite to win today too.
Alexander Kristoff also has several Katusha teammates on hand, and they are mixing it up at the front of the field with Quick-Step Floors. Quick-Step has a great shot at winning another stage with Marcel Kittel, who won stage 1.
Quick-Step Floors certainly has the strongest showing at the front of the field at the moment, but there are other teams that will no doubt come forward later in the stage. Team Sky will be working for Elia Viviani and Trek-Segafredo for John Degenkolb.
Cofidis' Le Turnier is taking a strong pull at the front of the breakaway as Mannion takes a water bottle from his UHC team car.
- 127.5km remaining from 159.5km
There are only 32km to go and they still have 3:50 on the field but they will soon turn off of these smaller roads and onto a more exposed highway, where the main field will have the advantage of seeing the break.
Team Sky has just joined the chase alongside Katusha and Quick-Step Floors.
BMC is also coming forward with fastman Jean-Pierre Drucker. He was fifth in both stages 1 and 3, and will be looking for a better finish today.
- 137.5km remaining from 159.5km
Katusha have led the main field on to the large highway where they will soon see the breakaway ahead.
The five leaders are still holding just over 3 minutes but that might soon decrease. They will have to continue working well together if they want to hold off the field for the finish in Santa Clarita.
American team UnitedHealthcare will want to put their sprinter Travis McCabe in good position today. He has help this week from teammate Greg Henderson, who has been racing with a casted broken wrist.
The gap is falling, now 2:15, as Quick-Step Floors and Katusha do most of the work to bring back the move. There is a tailwind, but the riders are also facing a gradual uphill all the way in to Santa Clarita.
Evan Huffman found himself in a similar position last year when the breakaway unexpectedly succeeded to the finish line. Huffman ultimately placed second to Ben King, but that experience could take him a long way today.
- 147.5km remaining from 159.5km
Their advantage has now dipped below two minutes, however, as Team Sky adds riders to the chase.
Riders from Katusha and Quick-Step Floors are gritting their teeth trying to push as hard as they can on the pedals. But it might be a case of too little too late.
Although the main field is travelling at a faster speed, the breakaway still has 1:45 with 10km to go.
- 152.5km remaining from 159.5km
Quick-Step Floors has now taken full responsibility with all of their remaining riders at the front of the field, but it doesn't look like they will have enough road to catch the breakaway. If the breakaway riders stay cohesive, they just might succeed.
Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) is off the back with a mechanical.
Taylor Phinney has dropped off the back of the field to help Talansky.
The two Cannondale-Drapac riders have made it safely back into the field.
- 156.7km remaining from 159.5km
Under three kilometres to go and it looks like the breakaway will make it to the finish line.
Rally riders are is leading the breakaway into the Magic Mountain parkway in the final two kilometres.
Team Sky is pushing the pace as fast as they can to try and catch the move.
Mannion is now taking a turn followed by Le Turnier and then the Rally duo.
A small unorganized peloton is chasing hard but they might not be able to make the catch, as there is 1km to go. The breakaway has 35 seconds.
The breakaway are starting to look around at each other. If they play cat-and-mouse they might not be able to hang on.
Evan Huffman takes the victory. A deserved win after placing second in Santa Clarita last year.
Huffman drops his bike and collapses on the ground. Rally team staff and teammates surround him, giving him water and congratulatory hugs.
Huffman's teammate Rob Britton was second today, making it a very successful one-two finish for Rally.
Lennard Hofstede was third.
Peter Sagan took the bunch sprint for sixth place.
Stage 4 top 10:
1 Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling 03:41:52
2 Rob Britton (Can) Rally Cycling 00:00:00
3 Lennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:00
4 Mathias Leturnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00:00:00
5 Gavin Mannion (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 00:00:00
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:13
7 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:00
8 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:00
9 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:00
10 Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:00
General classification after stage 4
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 16:04:48
2 George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:02
3 Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky 00:00:14
4 Lachlan Morton (Aus) Dimension Data 00:00:16
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:45
6 Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:48
7 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb 00:00:00
8 Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac 00:00:00
9 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:00
10 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:00
"I can't believe that we did it. It's surreal, amazing. I was thinking about last year's stage during the last 10km, and how much it would suck to not win again. I gave it everything I had in the last 100 metres," Evan Huffman, Tour of California stage 4 winner.
Thank you for following our live coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. Join us tomorrow for stage 5, the queen stage from Ontario to the summit of Mt. Baldy – 125.5km
We will leave you with a quote from the overall classification leader Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and his thoughts on tomorrow's queen stage 5.
"Today was a very hard day but I had a great team to support me and my teammate Peter [Sagan]. We had all our teammates there, all at the front. I'm suffering a little today but maybe tomorrow will be better for me.
"I will have a lot of support from the team and I hope to have a great day. It's the first time that I will do this climb [Mt Baldy] so we will see how it goes and how my legs are. If I have good legs then I will try to attack but if I'm tired I might follow. I hope I have good legs."