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Critérium du Dauphiné 2011: Stage 4

Live coverage of stage 4 of the Criterium du Dauphine, from La Motte-Servolex to Mâcon.

75km remaining from 173km

As we pick up the action with 75km still to race, Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) are up the road, 3:40 clear of the peloton.

Roy sparked the move just 4km into the stage this morning, with Malori bridging across soon afterwards.

With a lot of heavy legs in the peloton after Wednesday's time trial, the duo had their day passes rubber stamped in double quick time.

At the top of the 2nd category Col du Chat, just 13.5km into the stage, Roy and Malori had 3:05 over the bunch.

When Malori led over the Côte de Peyzieu after 54km, the gap was up to 4 minutes and it's stayed stayed between the 3:30 and 4:00 mark ever since.

Sky have been at the front of the bunch keeping tabs on the break. So far, it's been a very relaxed day in yellow (and blue) for race leader Bradley Wiggins.

Speaking after yesterday's stage, Wiggins was bullish about his chances of finishing on the podium.

"I will fight for this yellow jersey, whatever it takes," Wiggins said. "Vinokourov and the other guys haven’t said their last word. The weekend stages are really like Tour de France stages. I’m in good shape and every climb is like a time trial for me. My goal is to get a podium finish, like at Paris-Nice."

It will be fascinating to see what Wiggins can do later in the week and, more importantly, at the Tour de France. The jury is still out as to whether he raced above himself to secure 4th place in 2009. Certainly, he should improve on last year's 24th place and he is optimistic about his preparation: "I’ve got a good weight and strength right now. Last year I was fit but with no power. This year is different."

63km remaining from 173km

Meanwhile, Malori and Roy are on the slopes of the 4th category Côte de Châtillon-la-Palud.

61km remaining from 173km

Malori leads Roy over the top of the climb and 3:44 later, Leonardo Duque (Cofidis) clips off the front of the peloton to hoover up the points for third.

Roy is one of the peloton's most interesting characters. At the beginning of his career. the Frenchman combined being a professional at FDJ with his engineering studies at the Institut national des sciences appliquées in Rennes.

When Roy was finally able to devote himself fully to cycling at the end of the 2007 season, he saw that he still had considerable margin for improvement. He took his first pro win on a stage of the 2009  Paris-Nice and he began this season on a high with victory at the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise.

 

In spite of his success on the road, however. Roy plans to return to engineering when he hangs up his wheels. Tradition dictates that selected riders visit the front of the TGV that carries the Tour de France peloton to Paris, and according to Velo Magazine, Roy made a huge impression on the driver with his knowledge and questions.

Roy is driving a locomotive of a different kind today, as he leads Malori. The gap is back up to four minutes, but Garmin-Cervelo are now contributing to the chase behind.

50km remaining from 173km

Wiggins is looking very comfortable in the peloton, safely marshalled by his Sky teammates.

The distinctive figure of Johan Van Summeren is very prominent at the head of the peloton. The Belgian may have saved Garmin-Cervelo's spring with his win at Paris-Roubaix, but he remains bereft of ego. You can see a video of his Garmin-Cervelo team's preparations for that race here.

Roy and Malori are still working very well together, however. Both strong rouleurs, they're still not losing any time, but that will surely change as the flat run-in to Macon begins in earnest.

45km remaining from 173km

The pace is beginning to pick up now in the peloton, and Van Summeren's efforts have shaved 15 seconds off the break's advantage.

The gap is steadily beginning to tumble now as the peloton gradually stirs from its post-time trial slumber. 3:25 the gap.

Malori and Roy are still riding strongly up ahead, but they'll be hard-pressed to stay clear at this rate. Opportunities for the sprinters are always few and far between at the Dauphine, and they certainly won't want to pass up on this one.

40km remaining from 173km

Malori is still tapping out a decent rhythm up front. The young Italian was lanterne rouge in his first Tour de France last year, but he is a serious prospect against the watch. World U23 time trial champion in Varese in 2008, he took his first pro win in the time trial of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in March.

HTC-Highroad are also contributing to the pursuit behind, and Alexandre Vinokourov has moved forward to keep an eye on proceedings, surrounded by a phalanx of light blue Astana jerseys. After Cadel Evans (BMC) and Wiggins were almost caught out by an echelon in the finale on Tuesday, the overall contenders have no excuses for not being vigilant.

Malori is a hugely powerful rider and is turning over a big gear, but even his shoulders are beginning to rock slightly. It's been a long day off the front.

Malori also rode flat out during yesterday's time trial, of course, and finished in a decent 12th place on a rolling circuit not best suited to his characteristics.

35km remaining from 173km

Malori keeps shifting his position, while Jeremy Roy grits his teeth behind. Their efforts are beginning to tell now.

30km remaining from 173km

The gap drops below three minutes at the 30km to go mark. The sprinters' teams have this situation under control.

HTC-Highroad and Jan Ghyselink in particular are contributing more and more to the peloton's pursuit. They clearly feel John Degenkolb is in with a real chance today.

Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) is another man who will clearly be fancied to feature in the shake up this afternoon, assuming that we do indeed get our bunch finish.

25km remaining from 173km

Geraint Thomas is up there too, working both to defend Wiggins' jersey and to bring it all back together for Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Roy and Malori certainly aren't giving up, and the Frenchman surges every time he goes to the front.

Garmin-Cervelo have strength in numbers at the front of the bunch now. On paper, Tyler Farrar is the class act of the sprinting field at the Dauphine, but his state of form isn't clear. The American abandoned the Giro d'Italia following the death of his close friend Wouter Weylandt, and he would certainly be a popular winner today.

21km remaining from 173km

Ghyselink is shouldering the bulk of HTC-Highroad's pace-making duties, and he is putting in a very honest stint. The bunch is beginning to stretch out now as we approach the final 20km.

Malori and Roy have done very well to limit their losses here. They've only conceded 50 seconds in the last 10km, and still hold 2:08 with 20km still to race. It would be a big ask for them to hang on, but they won't go down quietly.

17km remaining from 173km

David Zabriskie puts in a huge turn for Garmin-Cervelo at the head of the peloton, and the gap drops rapidly to 1:40. An impressive show of force from the American.

Cadel Evans' BMC squad are taking care to bring their leader up towards the head of the peloton.He is 2nd overall, 1:11 down on Wiggins, and he'll be hoping that the Englishman hasn't packed his climbing legs.

14km remaining from 173km

The break passes the 14km to go mark, and almost instantaneously, the bunch passes under the 15km to go banner. 1:10 the gap.

After their heroics between the 30 and 20km to go marks, Malori and Roy have coughed up another 40 seconds in the last 5km.

11km remaining from 173km

The gap comes down inside one minute for the first time since the opening kilometres of the stage.

10km remaining from 173km

43 seconds the gap as Malori and Roy pass the 10km to go banner. Meanwhile, Fabian Wegmann has suffered a puncture and he is chasing back on in the company of Brice Feillu.

Dark clouds have been slowly gathering over Macon, but the rain should hold off until after the stage has finished. Garmin-Cervelo guide the bunch through a roundabout without any hiccups, except for one Movistar rider, who is forced to bunnyhop his way back on to the road.

7km remaining from 173km

In theory, the increase in traffic furniture on the approach to Macon should give Roy and Malori some temporary respite from the inexorable narrowing of their advantage. In practice, however, Garmin-Cervelo's relentless pace-setting is making serious inroads into their lead. 25 seconds the gap.

5km remaining from 173km

For the first time since this morning, the peloton can see the two escapees up ahead. Malori casts a wary glance over his shoulder, but is sticking admirably to his task.

4km remaining from 173km

Malori and Roy are grinding along a lengthy, straight false flat and the bunch is almost within touching distance.

Kanstantin Sivtsov is now putting in a turn for HTC-Highroad at the front of the bunch. 10 seconds the gap as the peloton enters the streets of Macon, with 4km still to race.

2km remaining from 173km

The game is up for Malori and Roy and they are caught just over two kilometres from the line.

1km remaining from 173km

Liquigas-Cannondale are now trying to form a train at the head of the bunch.

1km remaining from 173km

Lars Boom is placed in third wheel. Perhaps he's planning a raid under the red kite.

Geraint Thomas leads the bunch with 800 metres to go. Sky taking matters in hand.

Julian Dean is leading out with Boasson Hagen on his wheel, and Farrar lined up behind.

Boasson Hagen opens the sprint first, the Degenkolb.

And Degenkolb edges past to take his second stage win of the Dauphine.

He came past Boasson Hagen inside the 100 metres and won by half a wheel. Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank-SunGard) came home in third.

It was a disorganised sprint from a Garmin-Cervelo in the end. Dean led it out, but Boasson Hagen had forced his way onto his back wheel, ahead of Tyler Farrar. The American could only manage 6th place.

Boasson Hagen went past Dean on his right hand side, and Degenkolb came past to the left. In the final 100 metres, there was really no denying Degenkolb, however, and the HTC man was an resounding winner.

Boasson Hagen went past Dean on his right hand side, and Degenkolb came past to the left. In the final 100 metres, there was really no denying Degenkolb, however, and the HTC man was a resounding winner.

Degenkolb didn't raise his arms until he crossed the line, but he was really a more comfortable winner than he realised. Of course, there's never any harm in making sure, as Degenkolb's mentor Erik Zabel can tell him...

Degenkolb didn't raise his arms until he crossed the line, but he was really a more comfortable winner than he realised. Of course, there's never any harm in making sure, as Degenkolb's mentor Erik Zabel can tell him...

Result:

1 John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
3 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank Sungard
4 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana
5 William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ
6 Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo
7 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team
8 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
9 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
10 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
 

Bradley Wiggins enjoyed a trouble-free day in yellow, and the overall situation remains unchanged.

Overall standings:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 12:57:18
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:01:11
3 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Team RadioShack 0:01:21
4 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana 0:01:56
5 Rui Alberto Faria Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:02:12
6 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:25
7 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:02:28
8 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:02:45
9 Ben Hermans (Bel) Team RadioShack 0:02:46
10 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:02:52
 

Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of the Criterium du Dauphine today. We're back tomorrow with more from the road to Les Gets. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full report, results, pictures and all the news from France.

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