Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of Tirreno-Adriatico stage 4 from Montalto di Castro to Foligno.
Welcome to stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico, the longest stage of the race. The riders are well underway, having completed almost 100km and we have four riders out front with a 5:42 advantage on the peloton.
The four out front are Ricardo Vilela (Caja Rural), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) and Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani CSF)
It's a fine day for the riders today as this photo from the start shows.
The riders are approaching their first climb of the day, the Valico della Somma. They have four climbs to contend with in the second half of today's stage, here is what it looks like.
Reports coming in that there is some rain and a bit of wind out on route, which could make the latter part of the stage harder to control.
The gap is coming down a little and after 100km of racing our four escapees have 5:15 on the Etixx-QuickStep led peloton.
A quick reminder of how things panned out yesterday. Fernando Gaviria claimed his first WorldTour victory ahead of Caleb Ewan. Below is the top 10 from yesterday's stage.
1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step 4:17:28
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
5 Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling
6 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
9 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
Gaviria's teammate Zdenek Stybar kept hold of his race lead yesterday and he is wearing the maglia azzurra today.
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step 9:51:18
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
3 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:11
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 0:00:14
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:18
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
It is lunch time for the peloton and the leaders are passing through the feedzone. That has had an impact on their advantage and it has come down to 4:40. We can expect that to jump back up again once everyone has their food.
Today's finish town of Foligno was also the finish of the first ever stage when the race held its first edition back in 1966. Rolf Maurer was the winner on that day and, if you fancy, you can watch some of that stage here.
108km remaining from 222km
Valerio Conti has taken the points at the second intermediate sprint just after the halfway point of this stage.
Don't forget, we also have live coverage of Paris-Nice today. You can follow that here and see if Michael Matthews can hold onto his race lead.
The lead is now back up to around 5:30 as the leaders begin their ascent of the Valico della Somma.
Away from today's racing and it was announced that the 2016 European Road Cycling Championships would include an elite category for the first time. Nibali, Gilbert, Contador and Aru are all expected to ride.
The break doing their thing out front. No sign of the forecast rain just yet.
100km remaining from 222km
The riders have entered into the final 100km of today's stage and the peloton are upping the pace. The gap to the escapees has had chunks taken out of it. It now stands at 4:38 for the four men out front.
Etixx-QuickStep still doing the majority of the work on the front of the peloton. They'll be protecting both Stybar and Gaviria, who could be a contender for the victory if he can hang on over the final climbs.
As the riders set about tackling today's four climbs, the gap is coming down even more. Just 4:11 now between the leaders and the peloton. Greg Van Avermaet seems to be having a good day anyway.
Bauke Mollema is one of the contenders for the overall classification. He tells the race organisers that his focus is for tomorrow.
""I don’t think that it will be a sprint like yesterday with the steep climb near the end but we will see. I think that for me today is just a day to survive and not to lose any time. Tomorrow will be my day.
"There’s a lot of wind today but I think that it is mainly headwind. It will be a long day on the bike but we have a strong team with a lot of guys who like the wind so I think we will survive today."
Race leader Zdenek Stybar also spoke before the stage and here is what he had to say:
"I think that today will be a long day with a lot of climbs and we see that there is a lot of wind. We will try, we have a strong team and we will fight for it.
"We have a lot of option. We have a very fast Gaviria and we have some good climbers like Brambilla and I am in very good shape so I think that we have a lot of chances."
71km remaining from 222km
With three climbs still to come for the riders, the gap is down to just over 3 minutes.
Vincenzo Nibali is a two-time winner of Tirreno-Adriatico. He's hoping to add a third this year and he's expecting a challenging day today.
“The finale is pretty tough and the stage is long at 222km. The finish is pretty up and down on the circuit around Foligno. Some people have said it’ll be a bunch sprint but I don’t think so. Perhaps a team like Tinkoff will kick off the racing to get ride against of some sprint rivals," he said.
“I’ve got to be careful and watch out for my overall rivals like Tejay van Garderen, Thibaut Pinot and Alejandro Valverde.”
65km remaining from 222km
Our man on the ground Stephen Farrand tells us that there are dark clouds gathering at the finish in Foligno but it is dry at the moment. The riders will be passing through very soon as they begin their finishing circuit.
The gap between the breakaway and the peloton has leveled out at 3 minutes. The peloton seem happy with this gap going into the finishing circuit.
There's been a little bit of touching of wheels in the bunch but fortunately everyone managed to stay upright. Looks like it happened when a rider got a mechanical right in the middle of the bunch.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) expects a selective finale at the end of today’s stage.
“Today’s is a tough stage, with a testing finish. We’ll start off cool and relaxed and see what the powerful teams like Etixx and Astana do. We’ll try to be up there with them. We expect a group of 40 or 50 riders will be in the front group and we want to be part of it to get a result.”
59km remaining from 222km
The riders have been battling through a headwind all day today and they are currently about 20 minutes behind the slowest predicted schedule.
Conti looks like he is feeling on fine form at the moment. He's made a small attack and takes Bongiorno with him. They're likely looking for the mountains points and will sit up once they get to the top.
Bongiorno will of course be remembered for that Zoncolan stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2014. He was in a break with Michael Rogers when a fan tried to push him up the road but forced the Italian to take his foot out of the pedal. Rogers would ultimately take the victory on that day.
58km remaining from 222km
Another dig from Conti and he has dropped Bongiorno. The Lampre rider is away on his own with a 1:45 gap on the Astana and Movistar led peloton.
Conti passes through the GPM point and takes the full compliment of points available.
A group of 30 riders have been dropped on the climb including Cavendish, Ewan and Viviani.
50km remaining from 222km
Conti has decided that his best chance of getting the mountains classification is going it alone. He has not sat up to be rejoined by his fellow escapees. Conti holds a 2:03 advantage over the peloton.
A time check shows that the three chasers are 30 seconds behind Conti.
47km remaining from 222km
Vilela has been caught by the peloton so it is just Benedetti and Bongiorno trying to chase down Conti.
46km remaining from 222km
Several teams up at the front of the peloton. BMC, FDJ, Tinkoff, Astana and Caja Rural all have representation up there.
Tejay van Garderen believes that today's stage could see some contenders lose some time.
"It’s a hard circuit with some hard climbs. There’s not a lot to gain but you can certainly lose a lot if you’re caught off guard.
"Until this stage, I think that we’re sitting in the perfect position. Today, tomorrow and the final time trial I think are going to be the biggest tests. Hopefully we can keep this going."
A tight corner causes a few problems. Jempy Drucker has to unclip to stop himself from slipping out. Behind him, a few riders touch on the brakes and there is a crash in the bunch. Valerio Agnoli and Roman Kreuziger are caught out in that. Both seem ok but it takes a while before they get a new bike and set off again.
Race leader Stybar is safe in the bunch despite that accident. He's sitting with his teammates near the front of the peloton.
While the men's WorldTour is all go with Tirreno and Paris-Nice, the women are also in action with the Ronde van Drenthe. Boels Dolmans' Chantal Blaak has just beaten Gracie Elvin in a sprint to take the win there. You will be able to find the results and report here.
A problem for Adam Yates and he has to take a wheel from Luke Durbridge.
Davide Formolo has also has a puncture and has got a new wheel from his teammate. The roads aren't in the best condition, which could be the reason for these mechanical problems.
33km remaining from 222km
Tony Martin using his TT skills to put the pace on in the bunch and it's all beginning to string out. Conti has just 55 seconds now on the bunch.
We're hearing that there are a few spots of rain falling at the finish.
Conti has just 21 seconds now, Martin is destroying his advantage at the moment and he's still got 3km to the next GPM. Beind him, Pim Ligthart has attacked the bunch but he is about to get caught.
31km remaining from 222km
Conti is not going to make it to the top of this climb out front as he is caught. He immediately sits up and will slow pedal this until the finish.
It is Movistar on the front of the peloton now with Andrey Amador. They've got five riders sitting at the head of proceedings.
Chavez and Nibali are also near the front. While Nibali has a load of teammates around him, Chavez is alone.
We can also see race leader Stybar and young rider classification leader Jungels in that group.
More bad luck for Formolo. He's gone down on a corner. Colbrelli also down, he gets a new wheel from a teammate and who gives him a push to help him along. However, Colbrelli almost ends up crashing into Formolo, who is at the side of the road waiting for a new wheel.
27km remaining from 222km
Movistar leading the bunch down the descent back towards Foligno and they have dropped several riders along this twisting road.
There is a crosswind once they hit the flat at the bottom of this descent, which could see a few riders losing out.
24km remaining from 222km
It looks like Sagan is still in that leading group. He is definitely a strong contender for today's finish. Earlier this year, his hairy legs whipped up a storm on social media and we hear that he's said he won't shave his legs until he takes his first win in the rainbow stripes.
20km remaining from 222km
With Sagan in the bunch, Tinkoff are trying to take control at the front but they've got Trek and BMC to contend with.
19km remaining from 222km
BMC's Greg Van Avermaet could potentially take the race lead today. They'll also be looking after Van Garderen for the later stages in this race.
Fabian Cancellara is now the pace setter and he's really putting the hurt on. Sagan and Boasson Hagen are still looming in the background, however.
Riders being shed off the back of the peloton on this final climb. The group will be severely diminished by the time they hit the top.
The road surface is really bad on this narrow stretch of road and the riders will be praying to avoid a puncture with just 17km to go.
17km remaining from 222km
Plenty of the GC riders up near the front, including Nibali, Poels and Van Garderen. Nobody wants to get caught out here because they could lose a lot of time.
Davide Rebellin is also in that group and near the front. Will he try something today?
It's still Cancellara on the front as some of the riders almost grind to a halt on this very steep gradient. The peloton's numbers dwindling all the time.
Wout Poels moves to the front of the bunch, taking a little look at Nibali as he does so. Is he planning something or just making sure the Italian doesn't get away?
Still 2km to the top of this climb and there will be a lot of sore legs in the bunch. Mollema is now sat just to the left of Cancellara, who is pulling all manner of faces at the moment.
15km remaining from 222km
Ulissi attacks at the top of the climb and takes the points for the KOM competition. He is caught by the peloton soon after.
Cancrllara has dropped off and it is Puccio doing the work on the front. As well as Poels, he's got Kwiatkowski still in the bunch.
15km remaining from 222km
The riders are on the descent now and the pace has knocked off. The riders are looking at each other and waiting for someone to make a move.
Two riders have now attacked. One from AG2R La Mondiale an the other from Movistar.
It is Visconti and Montaguti who have made the move with just over 14km to go. They've not made much ground though and they are being chased the peloton behind.
12km remaining from 222km
It's all over for Visconti and Montaguti, who are brought back by Stephen Cummings on the front of the group. The group now has only around 30-40 riders remaining.
10km remaining from 222km
The riders have hit the 10km to go banner with Puccio moving to the front again.
The favourites are watching each other at the moment but plenty of attacks coming off the front.
8km remaining from 222km
Sagan attacked as he looked over his shoulder. it's not come to anything but it might be a sign of things to come.
6km remaining from 222km
Lots of small groups all over the road at the moment. The pace is so high that nobody can get away. Lots of looking over the shoulders checking out what the others are doing.
Puccio has a very small advantage on the peloton. He's got Cummings and an Androni rider with him.
5km remaining from 222km
That trio is back in the bunch. It seems Cummings was sent out to bring the attack back. And he's chasing down another attack from Montaguti.
Puccio is also with Montaguti and Cummings but they're not going anywhere.
Puccio keeps asking for help but Cummings says no. He's got Boasson Hagen behind.
3km remaining from 222km
Three riders have set off in chase of our leaders and they are almost with them.
3km remaining from 222km
There's no proper chase behind, everyone is relying on Puccio but he doesn't want to do it.
Confusion behind and Cummings is making some ground. He's got Berhane in this chase group as a second option.
2km remaining from 222km
Looks like this could be Cummings' day. Nobody is willing to do the work in the second group.
1km remaining from 222km
Still no concerted chase behind Cummings, who is time trialling his way to the line.
500 metres to go for Cummings.
The chasers can see him but it is too late
Plenty of time to celebrate for Cummings as he crosses the line for vicotory.
After all that work, Puccio takes second
Sagan wins bunch sprint from the peloton.
That was a great ride from Cummings. He was doing the work for Boasson Hagen but when the chase didn't come he took his chance and took the victory.
Natneal Berhane put in an admirable sprint at the finish to take third on the day. That should move him up the overall standings a little bit.
Zdenek Stybar has kept hold of his race lead for another day. He is 9 seconds up on Caruso.
This is how is finished today.
1 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
2 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
3 Natnael Berhane (Eri) Dimension Data
4 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
9 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
This is how it looks in the overall standings after today's stage.
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team
3 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
9 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
10 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff Team
Stephen Cumming had this t say after the stage:
"We were trying to do a stage for Edvald Boasson Hagen, we thought that he was the best chance for today. He’s in super form, so I was there as the policeman but it came to 3km and normally I can do 3km alone. I tried to do that strategy. I don’t know if that was ok but it seemed to work out.
"I was pretty confident and pretty aero on the bike. Everybody else had been pulling and I hadn’t been pulling. It was good having Edvald behind because it meant that I didn’t have to do any work. It was a great team performance and I was just lucky at the end."
We've already got pictures and a small report from today's stage. Check it out here.
Thumbs up from the stage winner
That is it from us today. Remember to keep with Cyclingnews.com for our full report and reaction from today's action at Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice.
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