Sagan sizzles in Clovis

Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) won his fourth stage in as many days at the Amgen Tour of California on Wednesday. Sagan sprinted to victory at the end the tour's longest day, 209.6km from Sonora to Clovis, ahead of Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) and Michael Matthews (Rabobank).

"I didn't think I would get another victory," Sagan said. "But after the last climb my teammate Daniel Oss said, 'We win another stage today.' I said 'I don't think so.' After he said this, inside me I said yeah, OK we will try, and we did. Now we are very happy and thank you for all my team."

Collecting another 10 seconds worth of a finishing time bonus, Sagan also extended his overall race lead. An attack in the closing kilometres by Garmin-Barracuda's David Zabriskie mirrored the team's tactic on Stage 3, where Nathan Haas imposed a gap on the front of the bunch, upsetting the Liquigas-Cannondale lead out. But once again Sagan could not be foiled and Haussler was runner-up for the fourth stage in a row.

"I felt really good during the stage," Haussler said. "I was comfortable on the climbs and the team had another strong day despite the brutal heat. Sagan's the fastest guy at the moment, and he proved it again today. We've got one more opportunity for a sprint and I'm very motivated, but there's still some serious racing to get through for the next few stages."

Marcel Kittel's Argos-Shimano teammates also did their turn at the front, with Roger Kluge the benefactor, fifth over the line. Powerhouse Daniel Oss inflicted the damage for his teammate, and Sagan moved to the front with Haussler again on his wheel.

How it unfolded:

The longest day of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California was also the first of the truly hot days, with temperatures topping 90 degrees (F) and the sun beating down on the peloton. The 209.6 kilometres and six classified climbs were no doubt the toughest the peloton faced so far in the race.

"Today was very hard day," Sagan said. "Also the weather is very hot and always in the climbs I put on my head the water because it was very hot. [The heat] is not good for me."

The attacks came immediately after the two-mile neutral roll out, but the day's major breakaway took longer to establish than on the previous stages. Despite the oppressive heat, Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Yannick Eijssen (BMC) and Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare) were feeling peppy enough to have a go in a breakaway before the bottom of the day's first major climb, but their move was not quite strong enough to stay clear and they were absorbed before the ascent began.

Mountains classification leader Sebastian Salas (Optum) jumped away from another small group that was just off the front of the bunch take the maximum points on the climb, extending his lead ahead of Spidertech's David Boily. But Salas wasn't able to add any more points to his tally as he fell back to the peloton while the day's longest breakaway went clear.

"There was a lot of talk about today being the big day [for the mountains classification]," he said. "I went for the first KOM and tried to get in the move, but none of the teams were letting me get up the road in another breakaway. As chance would have it, Boily wasn't able to get as many points today, so I increased my buffer on him."

Eleven riders were in the big break that stuck for much of the day, including Markel Irizar Aranburu and Benjamin King
(RadioShack-Nissan), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quickstep), Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team), Wilco Kelderman (Rabobank Cycling Team), Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda), Timothy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Wesley Sulzberger (Orica GreenEdge), Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale), Darwin Atapuma Hurtado and Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia-Coldeportes).

Eijssen said the breakaway's make-up doomed it's chances early on.

"We started the day with the motivation of helping my team out," he said. "But once we got up there the selection of the group wasn't very good to make it to the finish. All the big teams [were present], and tactics made it that we were caught back."

King and Irizar were two of the riders in the move who didn't contribute because of the tactics going on behind.

"Everyone understood that we couldn't work because our team was pulling in the peloton," King said. "And also the Liquigas rider couldn't work because his team has the yellow jersey. Everyone else was willing to ride. It came back pretty quickly, but that's just because our team wanted to shut it down before the flat section so we didn't have to ride on the flats."

The group's gap went up to 5:25, but in the sawtooth-profiled section along highway 49 they lost Quintero and their impetus and had only 1:20 on the day's fifth climb.

The sixth-and-final climb of the day spelled the end of the breakaway, and a second move went on the ascent with George Bennett (RadioShack-Nissan), Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Barracuda) and Michael Rodriguez Galindo (Colombia-Coldeportes) were soon joined by Bram Tankink (Rabobank), Mikael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) and Brian Vandborg (Spidertech Powered By C10), but with the long downhill run to the finish on the other side of the hill, Liquigas-Cannondale pegged back the leaders and went to work setting up the sprint for another Sagan victory.

First UnitedHealthcare, with Johnny Clarke, and then Garmin-Barracuda's David Zabriskie tried to foil the sprinters with
late-race breakaways, but Argos-Shimano was keen to get a result after striking out all week so far and the Dutch team nailed it back.

"There was just a bit of a hill and a bit of hesitation in the bunch," Clarke said. "I asked Rory Sutherland whether I should have an attack, and he said, 'Why not, have a try.' You have to try sometimes."

The field let both Clarke and then Zabriske dangle off the front for a brief time before Omega Pharma-Quickstep took the lead to set up Tom Boonen, but he was soon left behind as Sagan surged for the line on the Belgian's right to take the seventh Tour of California stage win of his brief career.

Although Sagan padded his race lead again in Clovis, the 22-year-old Slovakian rider said he expected to lose the jersey during the stage 5 time trial Thursday in Bakersfield.

"Tomorrow I think I will lose this jersey," Sagan said. "I will do bye bye. I don't time trial well. Maybe I try when I feel good on Big Bear for another stage, but we will see."

Another stage win would set the record at the Tour of California. Sagan is currently tied with Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) with seven. Can Sagan win a fifth stage this year and set a new record?

"Today we said before the stage, three is good, another one is better," he said. "The team was tired, and today we don't want to work for the win. If someone was going to take over the general classification it didn't matter to us."

But Sagan said he did like the idea of returning to California next year to raise the bar even further.

"I like California, I like America," he said. "Maybe next year I come another time and win another stage. Maybe this is not the record."

Full results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale5:18:08
2Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - BarracudaRow 1 - Cell 2
3Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 3 - Cell 2
5Roger Kluge (Ger) Argos - ShimanoRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Guillaume Boivin (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 6 - Cell 2
8Alexander Candelario (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 7 - Cell 2
9Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 9 - Cell 2
11Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team ExergyRow 10 - Cell 2
12Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 11 - Cell 2
13Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 13 - Cell 2
15Andrew Talansky (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 14 - Cell 2
16Tiago Machado (Por) RadioShack-NissanRow 15 - Cell 2
17Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 16 - Cell 2
18Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 17 - Cell 2
19Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La MondialeRow 18 - Cell 2
20George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 20 - Cell 2
22Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 21 - Cell 2
23Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 23 - Cell 2
25Timothy Duggan (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 24 - Cell 2
26Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-NissanRow 25 - Cell 2
27Christopher Horner (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 26 - Cell 2
28Thomas Danielson (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 27 - Cell 2
29Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 28 - Cell 2
30Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Robert Gesink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 30 - Cell 2
32Koen De Kort (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 31 - Cell 2
33Edward King (USA) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 32 - Cell 2
34Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Lawson Craddock (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 34 - Cell 2
36Bradley White (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
37Brian Vandborg (Den) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 36 - Cell 2
38Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 37 - Cell 2
39Rory Sutherland (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 38 - Cell 2
40Raymond Kunzli (Swi) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 39 - Cell 2
41Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 40 - Cell 2
42Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack-NissanRow 43 - Cell 2
45Joseph Dombrowski (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 44 - Cell 2
46Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 45 - Cell 2
47Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 46 - Cell 2
48Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 47 - Cell 2
49Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 49 - Cell 2
51Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Sylvain Georges (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 51 - Cell 2
53Levi Leipheimer (USA) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 52 - Cell 2
54David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 53 - Cell 2
55Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 54 - Cell 2
56Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 55 - Cell 2
57Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 56 - Cell 2
58Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 57 - Cell 2
59Ryan Eastman (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 58 - Cell 2
60Philip Deignan (Irl) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 60 - Cell 2
62Hugo Houle (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 61 - Cell 2
63Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack-NissanRow 62 - Cell 2
64Frank Pipp (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 63 - Cell 2
65Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 64 - Cell 2
66Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 65 - Cell 2
67Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 66 - Cell 2
68Ken Hanson (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 67 - Cell 2
69Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 69 - Cell 2
71Christopher Baldwin (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 70 - Cell 2
72Matt Cooke (USA) Team ExergyRow 71 - Cell 2
73Andrés Díaz Corrales (Col) Team ExergyRow 72 - Cell 2
74Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 73 - Cell 2
75Thimothy Roe (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 74 - Cell 2
76Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 75 - Cell 2
77Thomas Zirbel (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 76 - Cell 2
78Andrew Bajadali (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 77 - Cell 2
79Nathan Brown (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 78 - Cell 2
80Ian Boswell (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
81Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Argos - ShimanoRow 80 - Cell 2
82Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-NissanRow 81 - Cell 2
83Ryan Anderson (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 82 - Cell 2
84Bert Grabsch (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 83 - Cell 2
85Yukihiro Doi (Jpn) Argos - ShimanoRow 84 - Cell 2
86Gavin Mannion (USA) Bontrager Livestrong TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas-CannondaleRow 86 - Cell 2
88Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 87 - Cell 2
89Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Argos - ShimanoRow 88 - Cell 2
90Scott Zwizanski (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 89 - Cell 2
91Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda0:00:24
92Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Argos - Shimano0:00:31
93Sébastian Salas (Can) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies0:00:36
94Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 93 - Cell 2
95Michael Rodriguez Galindo (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 94 - Cell 2
96Morgan Schmitt (USA) Team Exergy0:00:49
97Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin - BarracudaRow 96 - Cell 2
98Jason McCartney (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
99Lucas Euser (USA) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 98 - Cell 2
100Serghei Tvetcov (Mda) Team Exergy0:01:01
101Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack-NissanRow 100 - Cell 2
102Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Cycling0:01:09
103Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Omega Pharma-QuickstepRow 102 - Cell 2
104Michael Creed (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 103 - Cell 2
105Matthew Wilson (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:01:22
106Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
107David Boily (Can) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 106 - Cell 2
108Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quickstep0:02:15
109Robbie McEwen (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team0:14:50
110Logan Loader (USA) Team ExergyRow 109 - Cell 2
111Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 110 - Cell 2
112Juan Pablo Suarez Suarez (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 111 - Cell 2
113Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 112 - Cell 2
114Carter Jones (USA) Bissell CyclingRow 113 - Cell 2
115Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge Cycling TeamRow 114 - Cell 2
116Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 115 - Cell 2
117Marcel Kittel (Ger) Argos - ShimanoRow 116 - Cell 2
118Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) Spidertech Powered By C10Row 117 - Cell 2
DNFRinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La MondialeRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFJavier Gonzalez Barrera (Col) Colombia - ColdeportesRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Friedman (USA) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit StrategiesRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFCarlos Eduardo Alzate Escobar (Col) Team ExergyRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFSam Johnson (USA) Team ExergyRow 122 - Cell 2
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Points - Mariposa - km 82.7
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan5pts
2Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Oakhurst - km 126
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda5pts
2Benjamin King (USA) RadioShack-Nissan3Row 1 - Cell 3
3Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team1Row 2 - Cell 3
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Finish - km 209.6
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResultHeader Cell - Column 3
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale15pts
2Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda12Row 1 - Cell 3
3Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank Cycling Team10Row 2 - Cell 3
4Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quickstep