Tour of California Stage 4, Chicchi triumphant in Modesto
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tour of California Stage 4, Chicchi triumphant in Modesto

by Jered Gruber at 7:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of California

The 195.5 km Stage 4 from San Jose to Modesto provided the expected bunch sprint finish, but instead of confirming Mark Cavendish's ever improving form, posted a big fat question mark instead. Cavendish finished a distant third behind Saxo Bank's Juan Jose Haedo and a stunning Francesco Chicchi. Chicchi's speed in the final meters was untouchable and took him to his first victory since the first stage of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in March.

The climbs that punctuated the first part of the stage proved to be the expected non-events, except for the formation of the day's break. The early move went clear on the first category climb of Sierra Grade. It started out as a group of eight, but was quickly whittled down to a strong quintet of Lars Boom (Rabobank), Jurgen Van De Walle (Quick Step), Rob Britton (Bissell), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly), and Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies). Anderson took maximum points over the two KOM's of the day, then dropped out of the break, happy with his day's work: he took the mountain's classification lead from Team Type 1's Thomas Rabou.

The break received its customary leash, but it was in the flat run-in to Modesto where the race really took its shape. The wind picked up over the latter part of the stage, just as cooperation within the break began to falter. The winds saw RadioShack straight to the fore, and soon, the field was in tatters, with a select group of favorites leading the race. Race leader, David Zabriskie, had missed the initial selection, but put his head down and rode across the gap with an HTC-Columbia rider tethered to his wheel. As soon as Zabriskie made the juncture though, it looked like impetus within the leading group faltered. It wasn't long before the the race was all together again.

Up front, Lars Boom was tiring of his breakmates' presence and spent considerable time trying to rid himself of their company. He was ultimately unsuccessful in riding away, dropping only Jeremy Powers.

The circuits in Modesto proved to be as dicey as the year before, with a number of crashes taking down prominent names - chief among them Lance Armstrong and Yaroslav Popovych. Both came down at opportune times, however, and their general classification spots are safe.

The sprint was an uncontrolled melee. JJ Haedo hit out early with a strong jump, but didn't have enough to hold off the lightning kick of the Sheriff, Liquigas' Francesco Chicchi. Mark Cavendish was never a factor in the sprint and rolled in for 3rd.

General Classification remains the same following a stage that was supposed to be rather sedate, but proved anything but.

Stage 4 Results
1. Francesco Chicchi (Liquigas)
2. Juan Jose Haedo (Saxo Bank)
3. Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
4. Theo Bos (Cervelo)
5. Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia)




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