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Tour of Britain 2013: Stage 4

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain, 188.4km from Stoke-on-Trent to Llanberis in North Wales.

68km remaining from 190km

As we pick up the action, an eleven-man break featuring Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling) and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) is two minutes clear of the peloton and heading towards the first of the day's three categorised climbs.

The eleven escapees - Michael James Northey (Node 4-Giordana Racing), Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), Marco Canola (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun), Angel Madrazo (Movistar), Alistair Slater (Great Britain), Aaron Gate (An Post-Chainreaction), Ian Wilkinson (UK Youth), Matthias Krizek (Cannondale), Thomas Scully (Team Raleigh) - slipped clear after 16 kilometres and built up a maximum advantage of 3:25, but the Sky team of race leader Bradley Wiggins is now leading the pursuit behind.

59km remaining from 190km

Alistair Slater is the best-placed of the escapees on general classification, 2:15 down Bradley Wiggins. With the advantage now stretched back out to 3:46, the young Briton is overall leader on the road.

The general classification this morning was as follows:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 11:25:54
2 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:47
4 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:55
5 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:57
6 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:01:17
7 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:18
8 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:21
10 Alexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura

Haussler is tapping out a decent tempo at the front of the leading group as they approach the summit of the first climb, the category 2 Groes. Llansanna (Category 2) follows shortly afterwards, while the summit of the category 3 Pen y Pass is just 8 kilometres from the finish line.


 

Angel Madrazo is leading the king of the mountains competition after an aggressive start to the Tour of Britain and he'll be looking to consolidate his lead when the group reaches the summit.

58km remaining from 190km

Madrazo duly takes the sprint for the six points at the summit ahead of Northey. The eleven leaders have 3:40 over the Sky-led peloton.

It's good to see Heinrich Haussler back at the business end of a race so soon after breaking his pelvis at the Tour de Suisse in June. At that point, the Australian's aim was simply to return to action before the end of the season. He can be pleased with his progress so far, even if he knows all too well that recovering from injury is a lengthy and delicate process.

52km remaining from 190km

Team Sky's forcing at the front end of the peloton has reduced the break's advantage to 2:55, but with just six riders per team, the Tour of Britain is a notoriously difficult race to control and it take a significant effort to peg back the eleven leaders.

50km remaining from 190km

The break hits the foot of the short but sharp climb of Llansannan with 2:46 in hand on the bunch.

Keisse's presence in the break means that Mark Cavendish and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team are under no obligation to help in the pursuit, but it's interesting to see them lined up just behind Wiggins and his Sky teammates.

Not surprisingly, Madrazo is again leading the break on the climb, but the 11-man break has stayed together on the way up Llansannan.

48km remaining from 190km

Delaplace opens the sprint for the mountains points but Madrazo is smartly across to the Frenchman's wheel and he zips past to claim maximum points at the summit.

42km remaining from 190km

Northey, Keisse, Haussler, Canola, Delaplace, Madrazo, Slater, Gate, Wilkinson, Krizek and Scully are continuing to work smoothly over the narrow, twisting roads and they retain a lead of 2:40 over the main peloton.

Bernhard Eisel is setting a brisk tempo on the front of the bunch, and the Austrian's efforts are slowly but surely chipping away at the break's lead.

40km remaining from 190km

Eisel, Josh Edmondson, Mathew Hayman and David Lopez are riding through and off for Sky at the head of the bunch, while Wiggins and Ian Stannard stay sheltered in the wheels. The Sky quartet have clipped the break's lead down to 2:02.

37km remaining from 190km

The break's lead has dropped inside two minutes, but they're still giving themselves a fighting chance of staying clear to the finish as the road rises and dips constantly over the final 37 kilometres.

34km remaining from 190km

Driven by Haussler, in particular, the break has rallied to extend its lead back out to 1:49 in spite of Sky's organised pursuit behind.

28km remaining from 190km

The break is organised in a double paceline and is still holding off the Sky-led peloton. 1:45 the gap.

As yet, Sky have opted not to send second-placed Ian Stannard to work at the front of the peloton. With the gap between the break and the bunch down to 1:41, Slater is no longer the provisional overall leader.

There are dark clouds swirling overhead in Snowdonia but mercifully the rain has held off thus far.

20km remaining from 190km

Sky must regret allowing Iljo Keisse into the day's break. His presence means that Omega Pharma-QuickStep will not move a muscle to help in the pursuit of the escapees.

Mark Cavendish is looking very comfortable near the front of the peloton and would fancy his chances of staying up there over the top of the final climb, but for now, it looks as though the eleven escapees will fight it out for stage honours.

17km remaining from 190km

The eleven leaders have stretched their lead back out to two minutes once again as the first drops of rain begin to fall.

And then there were three. Mathew Hayman has paid for his efforts at the head of the bunch. The Australian is now at the rear of the field, and Sky's chase is now being conducted by Lopez, Edmondson and Eisel, while Wiggins and Stannard sit in the wheels.

15km remaining from 190km

Our eleven leaders have worked very smoothly together thus far, but it will be interesting to see if they continue to find common cause once they realise that the bunch will not recapture them. Their lead is 1:56 and it's hard to see them being pegged back at this point.

11km remaining from 190km

Sky should do enough to save Bradley Wiggins' overall lead this afternoon, but a couple of riders, including Alistair Slater, have a chance to move significantly closer in the general standings.

11km remaining from 190km

The eleven leaders hit the foot of the final climb, Pen-y-Pass. It's only 1.6km in length, but it should be tough enough to test the break the escapees' unity.

1:38 further down the road, Sky have finally unleashed Ian Stannard to aid in the chase and reduce the break's lead.

10km remaining from 190km

Stannards efforts instantly take a chunk off the break's lead. Up front, the leaders remain together on the climb. Thomas Scully sets the tempo as Angel Madrazo sizes up the situation.

Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attacks in the main peloton with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on his wheel.

Wiggins is across to Quintana's wheel and so far is able to follow the efforts of the two climbers, who have stretched out the main peloton.

After Martin is brought to heel, his Garmin-Sharp teammate Jack Bauer punches his way clear and opens a small gap.

9km remaining from 190km

Martin and Bauer's attacking has had the knock-on effect of reducing the break's lead to just 45 seconds over the reduced gold jersey group.

At the head of the race, Marco Canola tries to slop away from his breakaway companions on the way down the descent, but it appears that the eleven leaders are all back together.

7km remaining from 190km

Bauer, meanwhile, is still dangling in front of the peloton. He is just 27 seconds behind the break. Wiggins and the main peloton are 37 seconds down on the eleven leaders.

6km remaining from 190km

Bauer is now acting as a rabbit for the peloton to chase, and the latest information is that the bunch is just 25 seconds down on the leaders. Could it all come down to a bunch finish after all?

5km remaining from 190km

David Lopez's chasing brings Bauer back on this long descent. The bunch is 29 seconds down on the eleven leaders, who are beginning to attack one another on the run-in to the finish.

4km remaining from 190km

Angel Madrazo takes a flyer on the right-hand side of the road, but is instantly shut down by Delaplace. 30 seconds the gap to the bunch.

4km remaining from 190km

Michael Northey cleverly jumps once Madrazo is pegged back, and the New Zealander has opened a decent gap.

3km remaining from 190km

Northey has put daylight into the break and he has 26 seconds in hand on the Stannard-led peloton.

Northey's erstwhile companions need to hammer out a working agreement quickly or they might let the chance of a stage win slip away from them.

2km remaining from 190km

Madrazo leads the chase and just as he is about to bridge up to Northey, Iljo Keisse accelerates, catching and passing Northey.

1km remaining from 190km

Haussler puts in a huge dig and closes the gap to Keisse. Eleven riders in front once gain. Meanwhile, NetApp-Endura are leading the peloton, which is now just ten seconds or so down on the break...

1km remaining from 190km

Delaplace desperately tries to breathe life into the break's efforts, but it looks as though they are going to be caught.

1km remaining from 190km

As the bunch catches the break, Krizek tries to jump clear but this is going to end in a bunch finish...

Mark Cavendish is tucked safely on Alessandro Petacchi's wheel as Bardiani Valvole begin to lead out the sprint.

Cavendish is well-positioned as the bunch enters the finishing straight and he opens up the sprint...

Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) wins stage 4 of the Tour of Britain.

Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) led the sprint into the final 200 metres before Cavendish took over. Elia Viviani (Cannondale) tried to get on terms but he simply couldn't match the Manxman.

Steele Van Hoff (Garmin-Sharp) clipped Viviani's rear wheel on crossing the line but he managed to avoid coming down and take third place on the stage.

Bradley Wiggins (Sky) retains possession of the gold jersey, but on today's evidence, he is likely to face a stiff challenge from Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin and Jack Bauer on tomorrow's rugged stage to Caerphilly.

Result:

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 4:45:42
2 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3 Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
4 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
5 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
6 Owain Doull (GBr) Great Britai
7 Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Sojasun
8 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Team NetApp-Endura
9 Chris Opie (GBr) Team UK Youth
10 Sam Bennett (Irl) An Post-Chainreaction

Mark Cavendish paid tribute to his rival-turned-teammate Alessandro Petacchi's efforts in the final kilometre. "We’ve been rivals a lot of my career but he’s a really good guy. He’s settled in very quickly to this team. Obviously the Tour of Britain is my home race but he was a big factor in me coming here because I wanted to ride with him."

General classification:

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 16:11:36
2 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
3 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:00:47
4 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:55
5 Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team 0:00:57
6 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Sky Procycling 0:01:17
7 Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 0:01:18
8 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:18
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 0:01:21
10 Alexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura 0:01:21

Thanks for joining us on Cyclingnews for live coverage today. We'll be back with more tomorrow and in the meantime, you can see a full report, results and pictures here.

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