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Live coverage

Paris - Nice 2013: Stage 4

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from stage 4 of Paris-Nice.

Today's stage is 199.5km from Brioude to Saint-Vallier and with seven categorised climbs it's going to be a tough day in the saddle.

Cote de Lachaud (2nd cat.) at 11.5km
Cote de Condet (2nd cat.) 27.5km
Cote de la Chomasse (3rd cat.) 87.5km
Cote de Laprat (3rd cat.) 105.5km
136: Col du Rouvey (3rd cat.) 136km
Col de Talencieux (2nd cat.) 176.5
Cote de la Sizeranne (2nd cat) 191km
 

116km remaining from 199km

We join the action after 83km of racing. A group of seven riders is up the road with an advantage of just over 2 minutes. Initially Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Gianni Meersman (Omega) and Johann Tschopp (I AM Cycling) broke clear but they were joined by Hubert Dupont (AG2R) and Romain Sicard (Euskaltel) and Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank) with Warren Barguil (AG2R).

The leaders are currently on the lower slopes of the Cote de la Chomasse.

In terms of the overall race, here's where we stand with regards to the top ten.

 

1 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 14:39:36
2 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
3 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:05
6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:06
7 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
8 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:08
9 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:00:09
10 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Sojasun 0:00:12

Voeckler though is the current leader on the road. The Frenchman started the stage 1:32 down on Talansky. Today is going to be a real test for Garmin-Sharp though. Other than Talansky the team have appeared slightly off the pace so far. Wegmann is their second placed rider on GC and he's in 102nd spot. The team will aim to retain the jersey though.

110km remaining from 199km

Garmin are currently on the front of the bunch though, and have the gap pegged at 2:30. Last time they were chasing Voeckler while defending a yellow jersey was probably at Saint-Flour in the 2010 Tour de France.

That day didn't really go to plan for Garmin. They lost yellow [Hushovd], David Millar crashed and missed the break and Zabriskie crashed out of the race.

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Gianni Meersman (Omega) Johann Tschopp (I AM Cycling), Hubert Dupont (AG2R), Romain Sicard (Euskaltel), Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank) and Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano).

Tschopp looks set to move into the lead of the KOM competition at this rate. He's picked up 14 points so far, overtaking the current leader, Keizer who is on 8 points.
 

Voeckler currently leads the GC by 1:23.
 

Tschopp is no slouch on the climbs either, having won the Tour of Utah last year and a famous Giro stage at Passo del Tonale in 2010. If he can come away with the KOM jersey when the race reaches Nice it could do wonders for IAM Cycling's Tour de France hopes.

99km remaining from 199km

We've raced just over 100km and the break is approaching the Cote de Laprat.

If Tschopp can pick up another four points at the top of the next climb he'll extend his lead but he'll need to watch both Meersman and Voeckler who are both on 8 points.

And Sicard is in the break today. It looks like he's starting to find his feet having had a couple of injury hit seasons since turning pro. The Euskaltel rider won the U23 worlds road race in 2009, as well as the Tour Tour de l'Avenir. He won that race by a single second from Tejay van Garderen, who is currently wearing the white jersey in this race. He's second in the standings but with Talansky in yellow the BMC rider wears white.

94km remaining from 199km

The break lead by 2:40.

In other news the Operacion Puerto trial rumbles on. We've compiled some the best/ridiculous quotes so far.

While the 2013 Tour de France yellow jersey has also been revealed.

Tschopp wins the race to the top of the last climb and extends his lead in the KOM. He looks set to wear the polka-dot jersey tomorrow.

Garmin are still holding the break at 3:30. Omega, with a rider in the break they don't have to chase, which is ideal as they have two riders in the top ten overall.

Tell us who you think will win today's stage via twitter.

This ought to be available on iTunes: http://t.co/CTSgmTAxEE Puerto really is the gift that goes on giving.

@fmk_RoI Thu, 7th Mar 2013 12:21:59

And you can now follow live coverage from Tirreno on Cyclingnews too. This is the first time we've  done live from two races at the same time. Fingers crossed.

Next up is the Col du Rouvey, another 3rd category climb. Chances are the break will hold this lead until the descent of the climb and that's where we'll see Sky, BMC and perhaps Astana come to the front.

On the run into the climb the gap has dropped to 3:15. At this point it doesn't look good for the break. The crucial point will be the section between the next descent and the start of the Col de Talencieux.

67km remaining from 199km

Just under 70km to go, with the break still holding and advantage above 3 minutes. Garmin have kept it that way since the seven man break formed.

By the way, the Tour of California teams for the 2013 edition of the race will be announced in around 30 mins so check the CN homepage to see who is in and who is out. There are certainly a few surprises in store.

I rode my yellow bike into a tar pit and barely escaped alive. http://t.co/qhnl8B95Qi

@nyvelocity Thu, 7th Mar 2013 13:22:00

Barguil has punctured but should be able to make it back to the break. As expected, Garmin and Astana have come to the front.

Text from Astana's DS Zanini confirms that Fuglsang quit the race due to stomach trouble. He's not been able to eat and had no energy left.

Tschopp was first to the top of that last climb though and extends his lead in the KOM.

But Sicard has been dropped the leader have just 1:35 on the peloton.

So here's the teams for the Tour of California. No Blanco.

As Sicard makes it back to the leaders. Their advantage is just 1:30.

49km remaining from 199km

Under 50km to go but two 2nd category climbs. The break are on the long descent with Voeckler just picking up three seconds at the intermediate sprint.

Voeckler drops back to the team car to drop off an item of clothing before returning to the front of the break. Meanwhile Gilbert is chasing through the cars, having had a mechanical moments ago.

As Cofidis join Astana on the front of the peloton.

The television cameras are on so instantly Voeckler needs to play up. He gives a few of his breakaway companions a variety of meaningless facial expressions before sprinting to the front of the break.

Lampre have joined the chase at the head of the field. There are 35km to go with the gap down to 1:10. I can't see the break staying clear by the top of the next climb.

A big day of Talansky though. He could be isolated very early on the penultimate climb. From there he's going to have do a lot of work simply to follow the right moves.

27km remaining from 199km

BMC has joined the chase as the break begin the penultimate climb. The gap is down to just 45 seconds.

The riders in the break are all looking at each other, waiting to see who attacks first. Voeckler drops to the back of the break as at the foot of the climb Lampre launch an attack.

Voeckler attacks and Dupont tries to go with him.

Voeckler doesn't want any company though and pushes on the pedals once more.

Dupont is slowly dragging himself up the Europcar rider.

Dupont is struggling but Quintana has attacked. He's caught pretty quickly though as all the sprinters start to lose contact.

It looks as though Voeckler has dropped Dupont too.

There's an attack from Euskaltel but it doesn't stick. Up ahead it looks like Dupont has made it back to Voeckler's back wheel. The pair have just 30 seconds as they reach the top of the climb.

Talansky is with the main field as Dupont and Voeckler crest the top of the climb with a 35 second lead.

21km remaining from 199km

Just 21km to go.

BMC lead the peloton over the climb and towards the final climb of the day. Gilbert, who did a lot of work for BMC, has been dropped and is riding with Viviani off the back of the peloton.

Dupont has attacked Voeckler on the decent, the reason being that a number of the break who were dropped on the climb are coming back to the two leaders.

Meersman and Tschopp have made it to the leaders. The four riders have a 25 second lead over the BMC led peloton, ,with 15 km and one climb still to come.

The gap is coming down all the time as the four leaders start the final climb of the day. The gap is around 10 seconds now.

15km remaining from 199km

Talansky moves closer to the front of the peloton. Today could very well test his tactical knowledge as well as his strength. 

And the break has been caught.

Lopez punctures and gets a wheel from one of his teammates. Lopez was in the top ten coming into the stage. It's going to be a big ask for him to come back now.

Talansky doesn't have much in the way of team support around him as BMC continue to turn the screw. Basso,  meanwhile, has been dropped. No mechanical or crash, he just can't hold the pace.

Onto the final climb and BMC are still leading the way. The group is down to around 40 riders.

RadioShack have two riders near the front, Lampre, Astana and Sky all present too.

Talansky appears to be glued to Scarponi's back wheel, while Nicholas Roche is struggling due to Monfort's pace.

9km remaining from 199km

Kloden is near the front and the German looks strong.

Monfort attacks. He crashed in the prologue on Sunday but he's looking a lot better here.

Well that didnt get anywhere. Omega closed that one down and now Chavanel attacks.

Lampre close it down but Porte and Kloden are looking aggressive. Talansky is just following wheels at the moment.

Chavanel is pressing on with his attack but the bunch are coming back together. Roche is there and he attacks with Porte.

This time Katusha close it down. Talansky in 6th wheel.

7km remaining from 199km

Westra has attacked on the descent of the climb. He's frantically chasing a lone rider as Omega chase from behind.

Talansky is chasing Chavanel who has attacked again too. The American has to bring back Westra. He gets help from van Garderen and it's all back  together. BMC again come to the front.

Chavanel is now chasing an attack from Coppel. It's closed down but there's no easing up in pace. Now an attack  from Katusha but again it's not given any chance.

Westra, was actually off the back of the pack but has now made contact.

2km remaining from 199km

Just over 2km to go.

Chavanel attacks again but it's virtually impossible to sustain a gap on the descent to the finish.

Blanco make their first move of the day with 1km to go.

Katusha are leading out.

Albasini take it with a huge sprint with about 200 meters to go. The GreenEdge rider was simply too strong. Astana tried to crowd the front but Albasini was too good. Talansky was in the mix too.

Iglinskiy had a gap in the final 500 meters but Albasini quickly closed it before coming through on the right hand side to take a clear win.

Iglinskiy was second. Velits third.

1 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
2 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
3 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
6 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge
9 Andreas Klöden (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
10 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Team Katusha

1 Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin Sharp 19:35:17
2 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:00:03
3 Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:00:04
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:04
5 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:05
6 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:00:06
7 Richie Porte (Aus) Sky Procycling 0:00:07
8 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:13
9 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
10 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:00:15

So Talansky holds his slim advantage after another thrilling stage at Paris-Nice.  The American will have to do it all over again tomorrow though. You can see the GC right here. And dont forget you can follow the finale from Tirreno NOW too.

Thanks for joining us, see you tomorrow.

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