Francesco Chicchi (ITA) of Liquigas-Doimo celebrated a narrow victory to take Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California. American David Zabriskie (USA) of Garmin-Transitions was able to retain the overall lead and will wear the Amgen Leader Jersey for the second consecutive day heading into Stage 5 of the race.
“This was a great day. There were big crowds in Modesto and it was a nice course to be in this jersey,” said Zabriskie. “I’m an excited individual to be in the Amgen Leader Jersey in the Amgen Tour of California. I’ve never done it before and I’m very happy. I’m really enjoying it.”
After a two-lap neutral start in San Jose the cyclists were faced with a climb that is synonymous with cycling and the Amgen Tour of California, Sierra Rd. (Cat.1 – 1,930 ft.), only 8.1 miles into the stage. Prior to the climb, just after the neutral start, Rabobank didn’t waste any time and launched an immediate attack. With Lars Boom (NED) of Rabobank leading the charge, there was soon a strong breakaway heading into the first KOM of the day. As the breakaway of Boom, Jurgen Van de Walle (BEL) of QuickStep, Robert Britton (CAN) of BISSELL, Ryan Anderson (CAN) of Kelly Benefit Strategies and Jeremy Powers (USA) of Jelly Belly Presented by Kenda crested the summit of Sierra Rd., Anderson took the KOM, followed by Britton and Boom. Not far behind, a chase group of three formed that included Davide Frattini (ITA) of Team Type 1, Max Jenkens (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis and Scott Stewart (USA) also of Team Type 1.
After completing the Sierra Rd. climb, the riders faced fast and flat roads full of twists and turns (Calaveras Rd. alone has more than 40 switchbacks) before visiting downtown Livermore for the first time. Heading into Livermore for the first sprint of Stage 4 with an amazing showing of fans along the route and a beautiful sunny day in the background, Boom took the sprint, followed by Powers and Anderson. After passing through the feed zone, the cyclists were faced with their second and final climb of the day, Mines Rd. (Cat. 4 – 1,512), where the riders faced nearly 30 miles of a narrow, twisting road, climbing most of the way before a long descent into Patterson. Anderson took the KOM, putting him in the lead in the KOM competition and securing the jersey, followed by Van de Walle, Britton and Boom, as the three chasers were swallowed up by the peloton, which had Team RadioShack and Garmin-Transitions riding tempo for most of the day, about five minutes behind.
About half way into the stage, Anderson fell off the back of the break and waited for the field to catch up. With only about 25 miles to go, the riders headed towards the second sprint of the day in Patterson, which was won by Boom, followed by Van de Walle and Britton. Reaching speeds of 55 mph during the stage, the sprint was followed by a decent sized crash, but all the riders recovered and continued on to the finish in Modesto.
Heading into the final stretch of the race Boom launched an attack, but was caught by Van de Walleand Britton, and soon after the entire breakaway was absorbed by the pack. For the second consecutive year, the stage finished with two circuits in downtown Modesto. In what was a photo-finish bunch sprint Chicchi took the win, with Juan Jose (J.J.) Haedo (ARG) of Saxo Bank in second andMark Cavendish (GBR) of HTC-Columbia in third.
“I’m dedicating this win to my teammates who worked incredibly well for me today and this season,” said Chicchi. “I’m really proud to win again in the U.S. This is a great race – I love to race hard and win in America. To me, today felt just like the Tour de France.”
George Hincapie (BMC): 11th on the stage; 27th GC
Chris Butler (BMC): 86th on the stage; 48th GC
Matt Crane (UnitedHealthcare): 22nd on the stage; 102nd GC
Davide Frattini (Team Type I): 73rd on the stage; 59th GC