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Tour Down Under 2018: Stage 4

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Hello and welcome to live coverage from stage 4 of the Tour Down Under

 

We're starting an hour earlier than originally scheduled here at stage 4 of the Tour Down Under: at 10.30am instead of 11.30am, to beat the heat.

Just an hour away now from the start of the fourth stage of the Tour Down Under: 128.2km from Norwood in the east of Adelaide up to Uraidla in the Adelaide Hills.

Unfortunately, because of another day of expected hot weather, the TDU organisers have made the decision to cancel today's Bupa Challenge Tour, which should have seen hundreds of keen amateur riders tackle the same course the pros will race today.

We're counting down to the start of stage 4 of the TDU - 128.2km between Norwood and Uraidla - starting at 10.30am.

As Mitchelton-Scott DS Matt White told cyclingnews ahead of today's stage, Daryl Impey, who sits third overall, 14 seconds down on team-mate and current race leader Caleb Ewan, may be one to watch as the road heads upwards approaching the finish.

Regarding the weather, the latest forecast we've seen is for 37 degrees at the finish in Uraidla up in the Adelaide Hills at 2pm, when the riders are scheduled to finish. Don't get us wrong: that's hot. But it's nevertheless getting on for 10 degrees cooler than at the finish of stage 3 in Victor Harbor yesterday.

Quick Step sprinter Elia Viviani's stage win at Victor Harbor yesterday, with the 10-second win bonus, moved him up to second place overall, still 10 seconds behind overnight leader Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).

The overall classification ahead of stage 4 looks like this:

The big names to look out for on today's stage, besides Daryl Impey, should be Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin), Education First's Lachlan Morton, and maybe a first proper look at defending champion and BMC leader Richie Porte's form.

And what about Dimension Data's Nicholas Dlamini? The King of the Mountains leader has won all three KoM summits in the race so far, taking maximum points, but today's KoM at Norton Summit comes late in the race, so will we see him go long in an early break, or will his team try to keep things together to allow him to launch one of his already-trademark uphill sprints for maximum points?

This is how the King of the Mountains classification looks ahead of today's stage:

128km remaining from 128km

How the points classification looks going into stage 4:

The riders are still in the neutralised zone: the calm before the (very hot) storm...

Race director Mike Turtur is about to drop the flag to start the race proper.

Two of the UniSA riders - Zak Dempster and Alex Porter - have made an early breakaway bid, and probably would have expected a few other riders to come with them.

3km remaining from 128km

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The road steadily rises all the way to the first intermediate sprint after 36km of racing, and then keeps going until around halfway through today's 128km-long stage.

The two UniSA riders - Zak Dempster and Alex Porter - have built a lead of almost two-and-a-half minutes, as the peloton still seems content to take things relatively easy.

Katusha's Nathan Haas would be a good bet for the stage win today. He told our man Zeb Woodpower how the stages in the second half of the race - today to Uraidla and tomorrow's stage to Willingu Hill - suit his abilities best.

Katusha's Nathan Haas would be a good bet for the stage win today. He told our man Zeb Woodpower how the stages in the second half of the race - today to Uraidla and tomorrow's stage to Willingu Hill - suit his abilities best.

116km remaining from 128km

The UniSA-Australia squad - whose two riders, Zak Dempster and Alex Porter, currently lead the stage - is a composite team made up of Australian riders from teams that haven't been invited to the race.

105km remaining from 128km

105km remaining from 128km

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Lotto-Soudal's Andre Greipel and Thomas De Gendt are riding along steadily in no-man's land, just ahead of the bunch. The result of pushing ahead for an early toilet-stop, perhaps...

93km remaining from 128km

That's Thomas De Gendt, of course - not Genet!

92km remaining from 128km

91km remaining from 128km

Elia Viviani (Quick Step) won that final one-second time bonus at the first intermediate sprint.

Viviani taking that final single-second time bonus moves him a second closer to overall leader Caleb Ewan: the Italian is now just nine seconds off the race lead. But that will probably mean nothing come the end of this hilly stage. Neither rider is likely to feature at the finish.

80km remaining from 128km

Rohan Dennis has got to be considered one of the favourites to win today's stage in Uraidla, even though his BMC team is backing defending TDU champion Richie Porte for the overall victory.

Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis's BMC team-mate Simon Gerrans also spoke to cyclingnews this morning.

 

70km remaining from 128km

Mitchelton-Scott's plan is for Daryl Impey to have a crack on the pretty-much uphill finish to today's stage.

67km remaining from 128km

60km remaining from 128km

Seven minutes now to our two leaders - UniSA's Zak Dempster and Alex Porter. Their lead is only gradually coming down, but the bunch rarely gets it wrong.

If Katusha's Nathan Haas wants to improve on his fourth place overall at last year's TDU, he'll need to be up there at the finish on today's stage.

50km remaining from 128km

49km remaining from 128km

47km remaining from 128km

As the peloton goes through the feed-zone, up front Zak Dempster is pushing on alone without his UniSA team-mate Alex Porter, who must have had enough. They would have had a chat together, and decided that it was their best move.

40km remaining from 128km

37km remaining from 128km

It's been a good effort by UniSA's Alex Porter in today's break, but he's now about to be recaptured by the peloton.

Dempster (UniSA) still has a lead of 3'20", but it's falling rapidly now.

Dempster's down in an aero tuck now on this downhill section, trying to eke out every advantage he can to retain his lead.

World champ Peter Sagan is now helping his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates. It looks as though they're all in for Jay McCarthy. Peter Kennaugh - the British rider who's joined Bora this season - might also fancy his chances on the final climb, and could be a great help to McCarthy.

25km remaining from 128km

Astana and Sky are now at the front of the bunch for the first time today. The jostling has begun for all the teams to get their contenders to the front for the start of the climb to Norton Summit.

The Norton Summit climb is around 6km in length, with an average gradient of 5%. Expect fireworks, but how far can Dempster still go?

19km remaining from 128km

Race leader Caleb Ewan is dropping off the back of the bunch - likely for more water bottles for his Mitchelton-Scott team-mates at this point, before the suffering begins on the climb. It's pretty much guaranteed that he'll lose his race lead this afternoon.

19km remaining from 128km

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Mitchelton-Scott's Aussie champion Alex Edmondson is near the front, looking for his team-mate Daryl Impey. As a local boy, Edmondson will know this climb better than most.

BMC have come to the front for the first time now to set the tempo thanks to Miles Scotson.

We're onto the climb proper now, and although it's still all together for now, the race is strung out into single file. Richie Porte (BMC) is about fifth in line.

Myles 'Miles' Scotson, the 2017 Australian national champion, has his jersey fully unzipped, trying to take in as much air as he can. He still leads the race, keeping the pace very difficult.

Scotson swings off, and Simon Gerrans takes over setting the pace for BMC.

EF's Brendan Canty sits in second, just behind Gerrans. Porte is seventh or eighth in line.

Nathan Haas (Katusha) looks as though he was too far back, and has had to bridge the gap to the 30-strong front group. He's up there now.

Gerrans (BMC) still leads, followed by EF's Canty and Michael Valgren (Astana). They're around half-way up the climb now, but all strung out.

Peter Sagan is still in this front group of around 30 riders.

No one appears able to attack as BMC's Simon Gerrans continues to keep the pace high.

8km remaining from 128km

It's now 45 degrees up here, and it looks as though we're going to have a big group sprint it out for the stage win.

7km remaining from 128km

6km remaining from 128km

EF's Brendan Canty attacks, followed by Bahrain's Gorka Izaguirre.

Izaguirre and Canty have got a gap, which George Bennett (Lotto-Jumbo) is trying to close.

Now Bennett has a go. He's looking strong.

Bennett goes again.

It's back together again. Bennett and Porte are having a chat...

Now there's an attack from Michael Valgren (Astana), with around 4km to go.

Gerrans in fact got maximum KoM points at the top of the climb. 

Porte and Bennett attack. That's what they were planning together...

3km remaining from 128km

3km remaining from 128km

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Impey's still there.

1km remaining from 128km

Impey opens the sprint, followed by Sagan.

Impey opens the sprint, followed by Sagan.

 Sagan wins stage 4.

Peter Sagan comes over the top of Daryl Impey (Mitchelton) to win stage 4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) is third.

Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan means business here at the TDU this year. With the bonus seconds, that stage win has given him the overall lead.

Stage 4, Norwood - Uraidla, 128.2km:

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