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Tour de Suisse 2017: Stage 4


The Tour de Suisse peloton is just about to set out from Bern for the start of stage 4. The riders will negotiate a 5.7km neutralised zone and are due to reach kilometre zero at 1.29pm local time.

The general classification situation is as follows ahead of today's opening mountain leg of the Tour de Suisse:

After a rolling opening 90 kilometres or so, there are two categorised climbs on the agenda later this afternoon. The Col des Mosses (13.7km climb at 4%) offers a relatively gentle introduction, but the final ascent to Villars-sur-Ollon is a tougher proposition. 11 kilometres in length with an average gradient of 7.6%, it should provoke a shake-up of the general classification. 

There are two non-starters to report. Sébastien Reichenbach (FDJ), so impressive as Thibaut Pinot's lieutenant at the Giro d'Italia, was struggling with stomach problems yesterday and has opted not to start today. Davide Martinelli (Quick-Step Floors) has also abandoned the Tour de Suisse overnight.

147km remaining from 150km

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) delivered an impressive sprint to see off world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) to win yesterday's stage in Bern, where, of course, Sagan triumphed during last year's Tour de France. The victory put Matthews into the yellow jersey, while his Sunweb teammate Tom Dumoulin lies second overall, just 10 seconds back. 

137km remaining from 150km

Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Antoine Duschesne (Direct Energie) and Nick van der Lijke (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij) finally snap the elastic and open a small gap over the peloton.

This quartet has established a lead of 30 seconds over the bunch, but Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) is attempting to bridge across alone. The Belgian might not be allowed to go clear as readily as Boom, Warbasse et al.

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Boom began the day 1:16 down on Matthews, and the Dutchman is the virtual race leader as the escapees' advantage rises to three minutes. Wellens, it seems, has been swept up by the bunch. Sunweb, BMC et al seem content to grant Boom, Duchesne, Van der Lijke and Warbasse their freedom for the time being.

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The escapees covered 40.8 kilometres in the opening hour of racing. The peloton, now 8 minutes back, covered rather less, but the early speed has taken its toll. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) has abandoned the Tour de Suisse.

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This year's Tour de Suisse is relatively light on the consensus Tour de France podium favourites, most of whom were in action at the Dauphine last week. Here is an overview of how the man expected to fare best in July are shaping up less than three weeks from the Grand Depart

72km remaining from 150km

Today's stage is the first major test for the general classification contenders, including three-time winner Rui Costa (UAE-Emirates), Jon Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), and, of course, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). The Giro winner arrived in Switzerland targeting the opening time trial and insisting that he would gauge his GC hopes "day by day." Today will certainly tell him a lot more.

62km remaining from 150km

Temperatures are touching 30 degrees Celsius in the valleys this afternoon, and the conditions are adding to the difficulty of the stage. Former Hour Record holder Matthias Brandle (Trek-Segafredo) is the latest rider to abandon the race.

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The Tour de Suisse last had a stage finish at Villars sur Ollon back in 1998, when Davide Rebellin soloed to victory ahead of Francesco Casagrande and Beat Zberg. Stefano Garzelli, Laurent Jalabert, Pavel Tonkov and Peter Luttenberger were all among the chasers, 41 seconds back. Garzelli would go on to win the race overall. You can read how Cyclingnews reported on that Tour de Suisse in the era of dial-up internet here.

The speed in the peloton begins to ratchet upwards on the approach towards the Col des Mosses, and the break's advantage is shaved back to 6:30.

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Last year's winner Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) is near the back of the main peloton. This is only his fifth day of racing this season after he fractured his tibia in training over the winter, and the Colombian is here primarily to bank miles ahead of the second part of the campaign.

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36km remaining from 150km

Van der Lijke has managed to ride his way back up to Duchesne and Warbasse, and this trio is now sharing the pace-making at the head of the race. 5:18 the gap to the peloton. Boom is alone, meanwhile, 1:00 down.

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Boom hasn't sat up and he is pedalling quite well as he crests the summit, 1:15 down on the three leaders.

As Bahrain-Merida line out the bunch on behalf of Izaguirre, a delegation from Sunweb is positioned right behind them, with Giro winner Tom Dumoulin prominent.

Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) accelerates viciously from the main peloton 500 metres from the top of the climb. The Colombian opens a small gap and continues to press on after he reaches the top, with an eye to preparing the ground for team leader Simon Spilak.

The peloton crests the summit 4:55 down on the three leaders.

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Trek-Segafredo take up the reins at the head of the bunch at the base of the descent off the Col des Mosses. It will be fascinating to see how Fabio Felline, so impressive in placing 4th at the Tour de Romandie, fares here.

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Warbasse's turn of pace has burnt off Duchesne. The Canadian tries to limit the damage but he will struggle to get back on. Van der Lijke remains locked to Warbasse's wheel.

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Yellow jersey Michael Matthews has been dropped from the peloton. The race lead will change hands this evening. The Australian sits up as the gradient bites. Peter Sagan does the same soon afterwards.

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Rui Costa, Kruijswijk, Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) are all well positioned towards the head of the reduced peloton.

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Philippe Gilbert is dropped by the peloton as the pace increases. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) returns to the front and rides on behalf of Caruso.

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Caruso accelerates and his effort has split the group of favourites. Pozzovivo, Kruijswijk and Mathias Frank are among those to come with him, but Jon Izaguirre and Rui Costa have been distanced...

Kruijswijk launches and acceleration of his own. Simon Spilak leads the chase, with Caruso, Pozzovivo, Frank and Soler on his wheel.

As soon as Kruijswijk is brought back, Pozzovivo launches an attack and the Italian has opened a small gap.

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Miguel Angel Lopez, meanwhile, is producing a fine ride in the circumstances. The Colombian is back to within 20 metres of this elite group of contenders.

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Frank passes the flamme rouge with a deficit of around 40 seconds.

Frank will be caught by the chasers before he catches Warbasse, who is now in the final 300 metres...

Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) wins stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse. 

Frank is caught by the Spilak-Kruijswijk group in the finale.

Caruso wins the sprint for second place ahead of Kruijswijk and Spilak. Caruso will take possession of the yellow jersey this evening.

Marc Soler was dislodged in the final kick to the line, and almost caught by the impressive Miguel Angel Lopez.

Rui Costa battles to limit his losses and we await the time gaps, but the Portuguese will have his work cut out to claim a fourth overall title on the evidence of today.

This is the first win of Warbasse's professional career, who came home 40 seconds clear of Caruso, Spilak, Kruijswijk and Pozzovivo. 

In the overall standings, Caruso leads Kruijswijk by 15 seconds, Pozzovivo and Spilak by 24 seconds and Soler by 31 seconds.


General classification after stage 4:

1 Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing Team 12:08:35
2 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:15
3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:24
4 Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin
5 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:31

A visibly emotional Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) reacts to the finest moment of his professional career: "It's the first victory of my career. I love this race, l love Switzerland, I was on IAM for two years. It felt like a home race today. Everybody was yelling my name and I'm so happy. I worked really hard. I always give 110 percent and I'm just so happy that it finally paid off." 

Warbasse was in tears by the end of his flash interview ahead of the podium ceremony. The Michigan native was well worth his victory today. He was clearly the strongest of the four escapees and was intelligent in managing his advantage over the chasers on the final climb. Although his lead diminished in the final kilometres, his pedalling remained smooth and, whether he realised it or not, the result was never in doubt once he hit the last two kilometres.

Jon Izaguirre, highly fancied before the race, lost 4:29  on the stage and with it all hopes of overall victory. Tom Dumoulin came in 7:12 down after sitting up in the finale.

General classification after stage 4:

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Tour de Suisse on Cyclingnews this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures will be available here, and we'll be back with more live updates tomorrow from stage 5. 

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