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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour of California. Today's largely flat stage runs 214.5km from Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca to Morro Bay.
- Rémi Cavagna wins stage 3 of the Tour of California - report & results
- All to play for - Tour of California GC analysis
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We're around 20 minutes away from the start of today's stage, which is likely to see a sprint finish in Morro Bay.
Yesterday's stage 3 from Stockton to Morgan Hill saw another win for Deceuninck-Quick Step, with Rémi Cavagna taking the victory after a 75km solo effort from the day's breakaway.
He left Alex Hoehn (USA National Team) behind in the move, though the American was able to grab the mountain classification lead for his efforts.
GC standings remained the same after the stage, so EF Education First will be up front today, along with the sprinter's teams.
It'll be a different kind of day today, largely flat with just a second category climb and two third cats on the route.
The likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), Travis McCabe (USA National Team), and Danny Van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma) should all be up there competing at the finish.
It's another long day, of course, at 214.5km.
The peloton are about to set off for the neutralised zone.
The proper stage start is scheduled to be around 15 minutes away.
The riders have a tough little challenge early on as they leave Laguna Seca Raceway. There's a short 12% kicker, but it's in the neutralised zone and over 200km from the finish, so shouldn't have much effect on today's stage.
The ground is a bit damp as the riders roll out. It rained earlier but things are drying out now.
Here's video of the riders rolling out at the start, from the Laguna Seca Raceway's Twitter feed.
The weather is mild – it's 16°C (60F) at the start.
- 214.5km remaining from 214.5km
The rain has started up again, just as the race proper starts.
Five riderse are on the attack straight away.
Roy Goldstein (Israel Cycling Academy), Jonny Brown and Ian Garrison (Axeon Hagens Berman), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Michael Hernandez (USA National Team) are the men out front, 30 seconds up on the peloton right now.
The riders will soon be on Highway 1, which is where they'll spend much of the day racing along the Pacific coast. The break are one minute up the road now.
- 207km remaining from 214.5km
The break are now 2:20 up the road. It looks like this is the break of the day.
- 203km remaining from 214.5km
Here's a look at the break, who are now five minutes up the road.
If you've been following the news, you'll know that Operation Aderlass has continued apace, with four current and retired cyclists provisionally suspended today by the UCI.
UAE Team Emirates are down a man here in California as a result. Kristijan Durasek was among the men suspended – for the 'use of prohibited methods' in 2017. He has obviously left the race as a result. Read the full story, including an interview with UAE DS Neil Stephens, here.
The first sprint of the day comes after 38km. It is imaginatively named 'Pacific Hwy 1' – the same name given to the three climbs of the day.
We spoke to Tom Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) again before today's stage. Here's what he had to say. He got through yesterday's stage ok, having crashed hard on the Quimby Road climb on the same stage back in 2017
"I won here last year. It’s a great spot. It’s a super cool stage, nice to be there with good memories not just from my victory last year but from racing Sea Otter with Hincapie Team."
- 183km remaining from 214.5km
With 183km to race, the gap to the break is up to 5:30.
While UAE Team Emirates aren't having the best of days, they still have young phenom Tadej Pogacar in the best young riders jersey.
The 20-year-old has already won the Volta ao Algarve and youth classification at the Tour of the Basque Country this year, and he's currently lying fourth overall here, 16 seconds down on race leader van Garderen.
"He's trying to win the whole Tour of California," said team DS Neil Stephens to Cyclingnews after stage 3. Read the full story on the Slovenian's GC ambitions here.
- 177km remaining from 214.5km
The break are almost at the first intermediate sprint of the day.
It's still raining, but more lightly than before. Let's hope the weather continues to improve as the riders head south.
Alex Hoehn (USA National Team) impressed on yesterday's stage, riding all day in a two-man break and also grabbing the KOM jersey. Here's what the 21-year-old had to say in an interview with race organisers earlier on.
"Our director said that we’re taking every single day as a single stage. We came in today as a one-day race, and we’re going to go into tomorrow as a one-day race.
"We have different objectives for different days. Tomorrow we’ll definitely have guys get into the break again. I’m going to try as hard as I can to keep the polka dot jersey. That’s what the plan for the team is."
Here's our story on the USA National Team and their objectives for the race, from Sunday.
We'll receive the intermediate sprint results shortly.
- 170km remaining from 214.5km
The lead for the break is reportedly down to around 3:30 at the moment.
- 169km remaining from 214.5km
Henttala takes the first sprint of the day, ahead of Hernandez and Garrison.
It's still raining out there, but at least it's warm. The riders are racing in temperatures of around 19°C (66F).
It was raining over in Italy today too, where Pascal Ackermann won his second stage of the Giro d'Italia. The Bora-Hansgrohe man extended his lead in the points classification, while the overall GC remained unchanged. Read our full report here.
The riders are almost at Big Sur, one of the most scenic stretches of coastline in the USA. Shame about the rain, then.
The break will soon begin the ascent of Pacific Hwy 1, the only second cat climb of the day, and the first of three climbs bearing that name.
Five, four, three, two and one points are up for grabs. Something for every rider in the break.
Today's news cycle has been dominated by two big stories – the fallout from the latest revelations of Operation Aderlass, and Tom Dumoulin leaving the Giro d'Italia.
We've got them both covered, of course. Bahrain-Merida man Vincenzo Nibali expressing his disappointment in teammate Kristijan Koren for his involvement and subsequent provisional suspension in the scandal.
"I’m disappointed," Nibali said. "I don’t know anything about it. It’s an old affair of his, it doesn’t regard the team. He didn’t say anything about it to us. I’m disappointed."
Meanwhile, Dumoulin left the Giro today after crashing hard in the closing kilometres of yesterday's stage 4. "I went here for a three-week adventure and I wanted to finish it," said Dumoulin. "I was and I am not ready to go home yet."
The break are on the climb now. They're 3:45 up on the peloton, and there's some good news – the clouds are lifting and some sun is breaking through.
This second category climb is 3.3km long and averages 7%. It's the hardest of the day but nothing overly taxing.
- 150km remaining from 214.5km
The leaders have crested the climb now. Results of the KOM coming soon. Just 150km left to race!
Hernandez led the break over the top to take his points total to seven. Henttala, Garrison and Goldstein follow him over. That's 5-4-3-1 points (not 5-4-3-2-1 as previously reported) for them.
The peloton go over the top 3:15 back. The roads are drying as the sun comes out. We're under 40km from the feed zone now.
- 140km remaining from 214.5km
There really isn't much going on for the next while, as the riders traverse the up-and-down roads to the next climbs of the day, which come 124km and 130km into the stage (75km covered so far). So what better time to take a closer look at the five men in the break today?
Joonas Henttala, who won the day's intermediate sprint, is a 27-year-old Finn who rides for Novo Nordisk. The team races to raise awareness of diabetes, which Henttala suffers from. He's been with the team since 2013, but hasn't taken a pro win yet – his best result of 2019 has been sixth on a stage of the Tour du Rwanda.
Jonny Brown, 22, and Ian Garrison, 21, both ride for Axeon Hagens Berman, a US-based ProContinental team of U23 riders. Brown is the reigning USA national road race champion, while Garrison took second at U23 race, Triptyque des Monts en Chateaux, earlier this year.
Miguel Hernandez is another 21-year-old. He's riding here for the USA National Team, but usually rides for US Continental team Aevolo (the same team that yesterday's breakaway hero Alex Hoehn rides for). Meanwhilse, 25-year-old Roy Goldstein rides for Israel Cycling Academy and is a two-time national champion of Israel.
- 126km remaining from 214.5km
Anyway, back to the racing. The break are approaching the feed zone, and their advantage over the break remains at around 3:10.
Looking at the stage profile, today isn't a particularly hilly stage, but the roads aren't flat all day. In fact, the total elevation adds up to 3,100m (10,400ft).
If you're of a tech inclination, then check out our big tech gallery from the race, featuring 50 photos of bikes, equipment, shoes and more.
The breakaway's lead is slimming somewhat – it's down to 2:45 now – but there's no danger of them being caught just yet. There's a long way still to go.
Bora-Hansgrohe are currently leading the peloton.
We have more reaction to the Aderlass doping story, with Giro d'Italia race leader Primož Roglič calling the involvement of his compatriots Kristijan Koren and Borut Božič "sad" for Slovenian cycling. Read the full story here.
We're 103km in with 111km to race. Almost halfway!
Dimenion Data's Ben King was on the attack late yesterday, eventually taking second on the stage in Morgan Hill (albeit over seven minutes behind stage winner Rémi Cavagna).
King, who won a stage of the race in Santa Clarita back in 2016, spoke to Cyclingnews this morning. Here's what he had to say.
"Yesterday, it was seeing an opportunity. I was down on GC and I knew EF would let me go. We slowed a bit and I saw an opportunity to bridge to Geschke. This race is special to me and I’d like to get a stage win but the Tour de France is ultimately my goal."
- 109km remaining from 214.5km
There has been a crash in the peloton. Magnus Cort (Astana Pro Team) and Rob Britton (Rally UHC) have gone down, but they're up and running again, with a few teammates waiting to help them back to the peloton.
Britton is currently sixth overall, 33 seconds down on race leader van Garderen, while Cort lies 66th, over 23 minutes down.
Trek-Segafredo are represented at the front of the peloton, along with Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quick Step and Astana.
Trek-Segafredo are represented at the front of the peloton, along with Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck-Quick Step and Astana.
Here's a piece of live footage from the Cort-Britton crash, via the official race Twitter account.
The riders aren't exactly speeding to the finish today. They're almost 30 minutes down on the slowest predicted timetable so far.
- 100km remaining from 214.5km
Here's a shot of the roads the peloton are traversing today. Hugging the coastline all day.
- 94km remaining from 214.5km
The gap is coming down a little. It's 2:15 now.
It's largely Trek and Bora at the head of the peloton.
The five leaders are all still together out front. They have 90km left to race.
The break made it over the second KOM of the day. Hernandez led them once again, followed by Henttala and Garrison.
There's a short descent and then the break will be climbing again, up another third category climb. It'll be the final climb of the day, though there is an intermediate sprint coming with 48.5km to go.
This climb is 1.7km long and averages 7%. It's the third of the Pacific Hwy 1 Summit climbs on the stage.
The riders are now 45 minutes down on the predicted time schedule, average 35kph. They've been racing into a headwind all day.
- 80km remaining from 214.5km
Hernandez won that last KOM, ahead of Henttala and Garrison once again. That has been the result for each of the climbs so far.
Hernandez has 11 KOM points today, 13 in total. He's not troubling classification leader Alex Hoehn, who has 31 points.
- 73km remaining from 214.5km
The gap has ballooned out a little – it's up to 3:30 now.
Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) is somewhere in the peloton. He's at his first race since he crashed and fractured his collarbone during the second stage of Paris-Nice.
Cyclingnews caught up with Urán, team DS Charly Wegelius, and some Colombian fans, outside the EF team bus yesterday.
"He's not just training here in California," Wegelius said. "We have to time his racing around the Tour de France, and the Tour of California is part of that build-up." Read the full story here.
Here's our latest news on Operation Aderlass, the Erfurt-based blood doping that blew up again today as four current and former riders were provisionally suspended by the UCI.
One of them, Alessandro Petacchi has left the Giro d'Italia, where he was working for RAI TV. "I hope to clear things up as soon as possible and be back at the Giro d’Italia as soon as possible," he said.
- 62km remaining from 214.5km
The peloton have upped the pace a little, bringing the gap down to 2:10. In general, things are speeding up a touch as we get closer to the finish.
One of the Eurosport commentators notes that, "there's just nothing happening, is there?"
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) is freewheeling at the rear of the peloton, stretching his neck and taking a drink.
Team Sunweb are in charge at the front of the peloton, with a few Quick Step and Bora riders mixed into the paceline.
Peter Sagan, possibly the main favourite for the win today, chats with teammate and compatriot Erik Baška. I wonder what they're talking about.
- 58km remaining from 214.5km
Approaching four and a half hours in the saddle for the break now. Just under 60km to race.
Rally UHC's bikes are certainly worth a look. The US team are riding special edition one-off paintjobs designed by UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation grant recipients. They're all up for auction too.
- 54km remaining from 214.5km
Meanwhile there are 54km to race and the break's advantage has gone down to 1:45.
The break roll over the intermediate sprint, with no contest whatsover. Fun! Henttala leads the way.
There's nothing else left for the break to contest now, aside from the 'most courageous rider' award. They're not going to stay out there until the finish.
- 41km remaining from 214.5km
1:40 for the break now. Looks like it might stick around there for a while, or just erode gradually as the peloton close in.
Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) lingers at the rear of the peloton. He'll be a name to watch out for at the end of the day.
- 36km remaining from 214.5km
1:25 for the break now. The gap is coming down.
It's still Bora, Quick Step, Trek and Astana up front in the peloton.
Over five hours on the road now, and the race is almost an hour behind the predicted schedule.
1:15 for the break now. The gap is coming down very slowly.
- 26km remaining from 214.5km
It's almost under a minute now..
Here's some detail on todays' stage finish, from Pat Malach, our man in California.
"The finish of the stage is pretty technical, with several corners in the final 1.5km. after the final right turn, they'll hit a 12 % grade that last for one black and then levels out as the uphill finish gets closer to the line."
Peter Sagan beat Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) to the line the last time the race finished in Morro Bay. It's the same finish this time around – not one for pure sprinters.
Deceuninck-QuickStep are riding on the front for Fabio Jakobsen. Trek-Segafredo are there for John Degenkolb. Bora-Hansgrohe are there for Peter Sagan.
The break have sprung into life. Henttala has put in an attack.
Hernandez is the first man up to him. And there are spits of rain on the camera lens now.
The two Hagens Berman Axeon men are chasing. It looks like Goldstein is out the back for good.
- 20km remaining from 214.5km
Hernandez tries again as the Hagens Berman duo make it across.
And now the four are back together.
The wind is blowing in from the sea – a crosswind from the right-hand side for the peloton. There could be some late-race action here if the will exists in the peloton.
- 13km remaining from 214.5km
13km to go and the peloton are 25 seconds down on the break now.
Jumbo-Visma have moved to the front of the peloton! They're trying to push the pace in the crosswinds.
And they've knocked it off now. The peloton are racing through a town, so they're more sheltered from the wind.
That was a nice flicker of excitement, wasn't it?
The peloton are very close to the break now. not long until it's all over for the lead quartet.
- 8km remaining from 214.5km
And George Bennett has had a mechanical at an inopportune time. Quite a turnaround for Jumbo-Visma there. He's being paced back by Floris De Tier.
Hernandez is the last man caught.
And van Garderen has crashed!
Van Garderen gets going again, but he doesn't look great. He takes a teammate's bike and several other teammates are waiting for him.
Van Garderen was the only rider to hit the deck. He was in the middle of the peloton, so we're not sure what happened.
Van Garderen is making his way through the convoy.
- 7km remaining from 214.5km
And Van Garderen misses a corner, locking up the back wheel. He's on Lachlan Morton's bike, so he won't be used to the setup. Morton is on rim brakes and Van Garderen was on discs.
The whole EF team is back with Van Garderen.
QuickStep are driving it up front.
- 4km remaining from 214.5km
Van Garderen has four men with him.
There has been another crash at the rear of the peloton, the riders across the road holding up EF and Van Garderen.
- 2.5km remaining from 214.5km
Van Garderen isn't going to make it back here...
Steff Cras (Katusha) went down in that crash. He's sat on the roadside being tended to.
- 1km remaining from 214.5km
Final kilometre for the peloton!
The sprint is launched.
QuickStep and UAE are up there.
Jakobsen takes it!
Jakobsen beat Philipsen and Sagan to the line.
Van Garderen crosses the line over 50 seconds down.
Another stage win for QuickStep as Jakobsen gets his fourth win of the season.
Moscon will take over yellow if he was in the peloton.
Gianni Moscon must've been caught in the crash as he isn't in yellow. Asgreen takes over there.
Here's the top ten on the stage
1 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep 05:53:22
2 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
5 Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (SAf) Dimension Data
6 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
8 Kristoffer Halvoersen (Nor) Team Ineos
9 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
10 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
And the new GC top ten
1 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 21:16:57
2 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:09
3 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:15
4 Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:26
5 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:28
6 George Bennet (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:29
7 Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First
8 Jesper Hansen (Den) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:30
9 Alex Cataford (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
10 Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:37
That was quite an end to a pretty dull stage.
Van Garderen sustained a cut to his leg after his crash.
Rob Britton and David de la Cruz are all missing from the new top ten. Those two, plus Moscon, must have crashed on the run-in.
There is some confusion as to what exactly is going on here. Van Garderen crashed around 7km out but was held up by the crash that happened with around 3km to go – but seemed to be outside of the 3km mark.
The UCI website results page shows Van Garderen in the race lead, plus Moscon, Britton and De La Cruz (presumably all involved in the latter crash) back in the top ten.
It seems like the commissaires are ruling that the crash was in the final 3km and that Van Garderen was sufficiently held up by it, which is.. bold.
Here is what the UCI is showing as the general classification after stage 4.
Astana have just Tweeted out that there will be no changes to GC due to crashes in the finale.
We'll wait for official confirmation.
Reports from EF suggest that the second crash actually happened inside the 3km to go mark, and that Van Garderen had caught that group, giving him the same time as the peloton.
That's not official word though, just from Van Garderen's own team.
It seems a bit dubious to say the least. Was the second crash inside 3km? And does Van Garderen catching a group of riders who were lying on the ground count as him catching the peloton? Hmm.
From Pat Malach, our man on the ground: the unofficial statement is that it’s under review. The race will send official statement when it’s official
Our reporter Pat Malach has spoken to EF directeur sportif Charly Wegelius, and it seems that Van Garderen will, in fact, retain the race lead after a jury decision.
Here's the shot of Van Garderen and his EF teammates picking their way through the second crash.
As you can see, there is no signage around to indicate exactly how far is left to race. 3km or not?
One mystery has been cleared up though. Van Garderen, speaking to US broadcaster NBC, confirmed that Lachlan Morton's bike has the brakes set up in opposite configuration to his. Australians run the rear brake on the left, Americans on the right.
So when Van Garderen missed that corner while he was chasing on, he grabbed the 'wrong' brake by accident.
This brief video from the race official Twitter feed shows Van Garderen missing the corner and then catching the second crash. The peloton was already gone by the time Van Garderen and his EF teammates got there, and the commentary indicates that the crash happened outside the 3km mark.
As things stand, Van Garderen, Moscon, Britton and de la Cruz retaining their pre-stage GC positions seems all but confirmed. We're still waiting for a statement from the jury though.
OFFICIAL: Race officials are telling us that Van Garderen does indeed retain the race lead. Moscon is in second overall and Asgreen is third.
Here's the offical new top ten on GC
1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education First 21:16:50
2 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Ineos 0:00:06
3 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:07
4 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:16
5 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:22
6 Rob Britton (USA) Rally UHC Cycling 0:00:33
7 Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team
8 David de la Cruz (Spa) Team Ineos 0:00:34
9 Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:35
10 George Bennet (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:36
We'll have the up-to-date race report and full results soon.
Here's the decision handed down by the race jury:
"The mass crash near the finish of stage 4 was just outside 3km to go. The commissaires have decided to treat the crash such that all riders affected by the incident and the road blockage will receive field time."
So that's all from me today. The race ended two hours ago and now, finally, everything is sorted out, even if the debates will rage on.
See you back here tomorrow for live coverage of stage 5 of the Tour of California!