Stage 4Time: 17:15:31
Stage 4 begins in Monterey at 10:00 AM.
Note that due to very hilly terrain, play-by-play and video may be intermittent during the first two-thirds of the race. We will try to deliver as much information as possible.
Good morning everyone. Today's stage starts in 8 minutes.
Larry just e-mailed me on the ATOCINFO@GMAIL.COM info request mailbox. Sorry Larry, we probably won't have video for quite a while today. The terrain is very hilly, and RF coverage is poor. We are getting photos, however, and I 'll be doing play by play as often as possible.
Today's stage is a very, very hilly ride, with two 750' climbs and a lot of steep rolling terrain. No climbs over 1000 feet, but the riders will be tired when they arrive in San Luis Obispo. The race starts in Monterey.
Remember, if you have any questions, please e-mail ATOCINFO@GMAIL.COM. We'll answer as many as we can...
Wade just asked us what tactics we can expect today. The teams that are basically out of contention in the GC will want to keep the peloton together right to the finish, and give their sprinters a shot at a stage victory. O'Neill of Healthnet said that they want to give Gord Frasier a shot.
The race is doing an 8.8 neutral parade start this morning. Great crowds in Monterey.
Today's stage is the longest of the Tour. It's also one of the most beautiful, with spectacular scenery along the California coast.
Today's stage also includes three King of the Mountain climbs and a sprint in Big Sur Cambria.
Chris just asked what makes for a successful breakaway. A break can stay away if there are no contenders in it, so the peloton doesn't want to chase, or if there are several contenders in it, so all their teams work together to slow any chases.
CSC, Discovery and Gerolsteiner could attack hard today in the hopes of cracking Floyd Landis. And look for some racers who are not in contention to attack in hopes of making a breakaway that sticks.
Ray asks what the fans can do to make this race a success. Keep showing up! Crowds have been amazing. Pat McQuaid (UCI President) told Patty that he is amazed at the size of the crowds.
Mile 2 and there's already some action. TMobile, Gerolsteiner, Colavita, Discovery are all in a break that has about a 10 second lead right now.
Some very aggressive racing going on, but the break is swallowed up again at 3.5 miles.
There's almost no wind to speak of right now, folks. Just as an explanation, an 8.8 mile neutral start means the peloton rolls slowly out of town, usually with the yellow jersey wearer at the head of the pack.
At 6.4 miles we have another break, but it got swallowed up right away. Now Gerolsteiner is attacking on the left.
We had a bad crash just after the start, unfortunately. Zach Grabowski (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home) went down hard.
Grabowski is being transported to a hospital. Our best wishes, Zach, and hope you're OK.
At mile 10 the pace is very, very high. Discovery is at the front as the peleton stretches into a single line, wagging back and forth. Two riders are trying to get away.
Sorry, there are TWO sprints today. One is in Big Sur, with a $1000 prize on the line. The other is in Cambria.
The race just crossed the Bixby Bridge. There are two Discovery riders and one KB Home rider in a break right now, with a small gap.
Gerolsteiner is in a break now. Breaks are coming and going constantly.
The break is now about 15-20 seconds ahead. A few riders have bridged. We're at the 15 mile mark.
At 16 miles the break is reabsorbed. The peloton is FLYING down a twisting descent at 40-50 miles per hour. The descent has a horshoe turn and then they climb again at mile 17.
We are trying to get an estimate as to when the peloton will reach Morro Bay.
Hahahah. There are about five cows trying to keep up with the pack at mile 19. We're not sure if they've been training or not.
OK, the cows have been dropped.
There is a sprint coming up at mile 24.2, and then a king of the mountain climb at 28.5 miles. The riders are winding it up. The average speed at 21 miles into the race is about 29 miles per hour.
About 5k to the sprint and we have a small group at the front trying to get away. They're setting the pace.
Michael, the average cow puts out about 1 cowpower. These cows looked like sprinters though. They couldn't maintain their speed.
At 2k to go to the sprint we have about 15 riders in a break.
Ben Jacques-Maynes has been taken to the hospital because of the earlier crash
And the sprint winner is Bas Giling (T-Mobile), with Jose Manuel Garcia (Toyota-United) second and Vladmir Gusev (Discovery) third. The peloton is back together heading for the climb.
Stan just asked why Hincapie didn't wear the Golden Jersey yesterday. I believe it was because he wanted to wear an aerodynamic skinsuit.
We've got a few riders trying to get away on the KOM climb.
The peloton is out of the saddle, climbing at about 15 mph as they head for the KOM.
The pack is now on the descent. We'll have KOM results shortly. Lots of great cow e-mails...
Levi Leipheimer wins the KOM, with Bernhard Kohl of T-Mobile in second. So Kohl keeps the KOM jersey. Jean Marc Marino came in third, and Alexandre Moos was fourth.
Sorry, Tom Danielson came in third in the KOM. We're on a steep, winding descent now. The riders are going 40-50 mph. There's a 3-person break. The peloton fell apart on the climb and there's a big group off the back.
Haedo, the winner of Stage 1, just had a wheel change at 33.2 miles. There are six riders in a break. They are about 100 meters ahead.
Just FYI - there is only one KOM jersey for the entire Tour. It'll be awarded at the very end of the race, like the Golden Jersey.
Haedo just had a wheel change at 33.2 miles
The first and second climbs are category four climbs. There are no time bonuses for today's KOMs, only points. The points awarded are 6,5,4,3,1. Points for sprints are 5,3,1.
One of the riders in the break is Jose Angel Gomez, of Prodir. We're trying to find out the other one. There's a group of 25 or so chasing hard at mile 37.
Looks like the break got caught by the chase group. We'll double-check. No further cow sightings. However, we'll have the video of the bovine sprint up as a clip, shortly.
Hey, if anyone in San Luis Obispo is listening, c'mon out to the finish line at the corner of Monterey and Osos at around 3:30 to cheer everyone on!
Just FYI - we don't have audio commentary. The commentary is edited later on. The breakaway group includes Jens Voigt of CSC, Andre Greipel of T-Mobile and Davide Frattini of Colavita Oil.
Dave just suggested that the cows are probably not in top form this early in the season. Who knew we could get so much mileage out of some bovines?
The riders in the big break are: Jens Voigt (CSC), Torston Kiekmann (Gerolsteiner), Koldo Gil (Prodir), Michael Barry (Discovery), Saul Raisin (Credit Agricole), Andre Greipel (T-Mobile), Valeriy Kobzarenko (Navigators), Mike Creed (TIAA-Cref), and Davide Frattini (Colavita).
At mile 46 the break is averaging about 28.4 mph. They're flying. The peloton seems content to wait. They're rolling along.
At 49 miles the riders are hitting a section of gravel. Team managers are scrambling to warn the riders. It's about 100 meters of gravel.
Looks like we have a rider off the front of the lead group. Sven Krauss of Gerolsteiner.
Krauss has a 12 second gap. Two riders are trying to bridge: Davide Frattini and Tim Johnson.
At 54 miles the 3-man break is back in the main lead group.
At 57 miles we've got 11 riders away. Four riders are in the broom wagon.
We have another break! This time it's Lars Bak (CSC), Steve Zampieri (Phonak), Bart Dockx (DVL), David Kopp (GER), Aaron Olsen (Prodir), Paolo Salvodelli (Discovery),
Michael Rogers (T-Mobile), Tim Johnson (Healthnet), Ben Brooks (Navigators), Mark McCormack (Colavita), Lucas Euser (TIAA Cref)
The peloton has caught the break, but now we have Lars Bak and Torsten Heikmann off the front again. Bak must be feeling pretty good today.
Someone just pointed out the cows were actually probably bulls. Sorry, my bad...
The break has now been joined by Hayden Rouslten. Now Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) is trying to bridge with a few other riders. We're at mile 60 or so.
The chasers have joined the break - we now have six racers 20 seconds ahead, with two more chasers 8 seconds behind the break.
The two chasers have caught the break too, the break has a 45 second gap. Now it looks like Chris Horner is making a move to bridge too.
OK, the peleton is taking this seriously now. A lot of riders are trying to bridge.
There are no Phonak riders in this break. Either they're tired or they're gambling that the peloton will catch them again.
The break is on a long, winding downhill now. The turns are gradual and sweeping, but you can see the riders leaning in. They continue to work well together.
FYI the race is expected to finish in San Luis Obispo at around 4-4:30.
We'll have the second KOM results in a moment. The lead group just completed a long, sweeping downhill turn that lets them look across and see the chase group. The views are incredible.
KOM results: Marco Pinotti (Prodir), Chris Horner (DVL), Jean Marc Marino (Credit Agricole) and then Vladimir Gusev (Discovery). We are now at the 74-mile mark.
We're at the halfway point. Lead group is going 40 mph on the descent. Rider Gustavo Artacho (Colavita) just abandoned.
Lead group has a 1:07 lead. Chris Horner, now in the break, is about 2:17 back in the standings. This could get interesting...
Everyone say 'thanks Patty'. She sitting backwards in a caravan car, relaying this to me while the car whips back and forth on the hills....
The break now has a lead of 1:10.
The lead group is working well together on a flat stretch along the coast. It's a textbook example of a paceline.
Can't overemphasize how beautiful the coastline is...
At the 83 mile mark the break is 1:15 ahead.
84.5 mile mark - we just passed a beach full of sea lions. None of them tried to chase though. Hearst castle is in the distance, and we're heading for the final sprint of the day.
Just heard that TIAA-Cref rider Craig Lewis is off the back of the breakaway. The break continues to put on a paceline clinic. Their lead is holding at 1:15.
Sprint results from the final prime: Andre Greipel (T-Mobile), Lars Bak (CSC) and Josep Jufre Pou (Davitamon-Lotto).
At the 90 mile mark the leaders are 1:10 ahead. There was just a crash of two riders. One looks like he's down for the count. The other is back up and chasing the peleton again.
Arquimides Las of KB Home, Wren Tyler and Rene Haselbacher all went down in that spill, we think. Haselbacher and Las are back up and chasing.
The leaders are now only 40 seconds ahead. The peloton has them in sight. The field is chasing hard.
The break is splitting. We've got three riders off the front of the leaders trying to stay away from the peloton.
We just passed 95 miles, and Phonak is definitely making their move. We've got 5 Phonak riders at the front of the peloton pushing the pace, hard. The break is only 25 seconds ahead.
Mark McCormack just jumped away and is 25 seconds ahead. But now there are 5 Phonak and 6 CSC riders pulling the peloton.
The peloton is at the 99 mile mark. The leaders are 23 seconds ahead. Lars Bak just refuses to get caught.
The break looked like it was falling apart, then Bak pulled it back together. At the 100 mile mark the field is chasing hard, with CSC now taking a turn at the front.
The peloton is chasing HARD. Single file. The lead group is led by Bak in the Swiss national champ's jersey. Average speed is 27 mph.
The break is looking over their shoulders now.
The main break has been caught. But Vladimir Gusev and Glen Chadwick are away again, about 20 seconds ahead on the descent.
The two-man break has a 40 second lead now.
The riders are about 30 miles out from San Luis Obispo.
Right now it looks like we're going to see a 3:45 or 4 PM finish.
Lead break now has 1:45 on the peloton. Phonak is at the front of the pack as they head past Morro Bay.
The break is almost 2 minutes ahead at the 110 mile mark. They're not a real threat to the GC, though, and Landis is relaxing in the peloton, chatting with CSC riders.
The break is now 2:10 ahead of the peloton. The peloton is letting them go. For now.
The peloton just kicked it into gear. Gusav and a few others are at the front powering them along. They're all single file on the flat now.
Healthnet-Maxxis is at the front of the peleton. The sprinters' teams are starting to turn on the jets.
The break got to 2:20 ahead at mile 114, but now we're down to 2:02. Be interesting to see if CSC, Healthnet and Toyota can reel them back in.
There's a guy on a bike with a huge flag on the back of his bike, chasing the peloton. No mean feat with the peloton going 27+ mph. CSC, Healthnet and Toyota have the break within 1:55 with 16 miles to go. But the break has a legitimate shot.
The peloton is really making time now - guess I was wrong. The break is only 1:45 or so ahead. 118 riders are pulling against them.
At the 120 mile mark the riders have a slight tailwind. Temperature is about 62 degrees. Great sprinting weather...
20 km to go now. The peloton is only 1:20 behind. This will be close.
The crowd at the finish is amazing again! Five people deep all the way down Monterey!
Our new Adobe Most Aggressive Rider is going to be Lars Bak. He led five breaks today!
The peloton is just flying. Don't have a lead time yet. The break is still ahead though. The peleton is stretched out, double-file, with CSC in the lead.
The break is only 35 seconds ahead and laboring.
Seven of the top 10 pro teams in the world are now screaming for San Luis Obispo folks. They're chasing that break hard. The lead is down to 25 seconds.
The peloton is quite a site here. They're rolling along at 26 mph plus, sun behind them. 5k to go, 22 second lead.
Sigh sorry everyone - Lars Bak is the DANISH national champion. I know geography, honest.
The breakaway is caught!
Landis has second wheel behind another Phonak rider. The peloton is up to 30-35 mph!
Phonak is trying to protect Landis. CSC and the other teams are fighting for position, coming around the sides of the peloton.
The peloton is in town. A Jelly Belly rider is down but got a new wheel and is racing back into it.
Haedo takes it by a wheel!
UNOFFICIAL finish result is Haedo first, Rodriguez second. That's Juan Jose Haedo of Toyota United and Fred Rodriguez of DVL. But it was very, very close.
The Jelly Belly rider has finished, and with the mechanical won't lose too much time. Way to get back on the bike.
Sorry to be so off in estimated finish time. Those guys put the hammer down in the last quarter of the race.
Crowd was amazing. They're still here waiting to cheer any riders who are straggling in.
K it's official. Juan Jose Haedo came in first, Fred Rodriguez second, Andre Korff third. That's Haedo's second sprint win.
We will post official results as soon as we get them folks. See you all tomorrow.
You can now view the standings after stage 4 here.