Stage 4: San Jose - Modesto
The riders' ability to recover from the previous day's effort will be tested very early on in the fourth day as the route heads out of San Jose straight up the steep and twisty Sierra Grade climb not even 10km from the start line.
Once over the summit of this beastly hill, riders will have a long, gradual descent before turning onto Calaveras Road where they'll have a short "wall" of a climb to get the legs warm again.
The riders should be pushed along by a tailwind to Livermore where they will turn south down the scenic Mines Road and bypass the route to Mount Hamilton, instead turning onto Del Puerto Canyon Road for the final climb of the day.
It's a long, gradual descent through the canyon down to Patterson and then a pancake flat run up to Modesto. While the terrain at the end may not be terribly difficult, strong crosswinds could make it difficult for the groups which have split up on the climbs to come back together.
In all likelihood, it will be a day for the sprinters, especially if they've been denied on the previous two stages.
One of the few sprinters' stages in this year's race should see Greipel or Cavendish winning, but the one unknown factor of this day is the wind.
Coming out of the east bay mountains and out onto the San Joaquin valley plain near Modesto could see some echelon racing. If it's windy, it might not be a day where the race is won, but you can certainly lose the overall. It will be one of the only opportunities for sprinters, so I can't see a breakaway succeeding, as if a given sprinter's team didn't win stage one, this might be their last chance, so I can see it slipping away. However, if the wind is kicking, quite a few riders will be shed off the back in the high speed chase into Modesto.
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