With the help of his team, sprinter Mark Cavendish survived 4 KOMs to win the 115.4 miles (185.7 km) stage 4 at the Amgen Tour of California in Clovis CA. It was very close as Tom Boonen (Quick Step) almost pipped him at the line. JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) was third.
“This win was massive for me and for the team. I was really driven and I wanted this win bad. The team stayed so well together on every climb and it played into our ends today. I was looked after so well after the climbs; my team really put me in a perfect position. Mark Renshaw helped me; it was the first time we got the lead-out right. We went straight past the whole Cervelo Test Team on the right, which was amazing because we knew they were so strong from yesterday.” said Cavendish.
The break consisting of Jason McCartney (Saxo Bank), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing) and Serge Pauwels (Cervelo) was caught in the Clovis city limits.
“I am disappointed, really disappointed that we didn’t hang on in the end. Every kilometer I was out in that breakaway, I thought we were going to stay away. I knew the sprinters would put on a chase. McCartney was really strong and great to have in the race today. I just needed a couple extra kilometers.” said Hamilton.
No changes in the overall classification as Levi Leipheimer (Astana) is one day closer to a three-peat. As expected, the upcoming time trial on Friday should be decisive. Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) successfully defended his KOM jersey by joining the break to grab points before returning to the field to allow the break to go on. Mancebo also leads the sprint competition.
Unfortunately, today again riders crashed and abandoned the race with injuries, Kim Kirchen (Columbia-High Road) went down when his rain jacket got caught in his wheel, and brioke his collarbone and ribs. Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was caught up in the same crash and suffered rib fractures. With 30 kilometers to go, Scott Nydam (BMC) crashed in front of his team car and according to a team release, “It looks like he may have broken the collarbone that he broke last year at the Tour of Utah.”
Tomorrow’s stage should be one for the sprinters. A relatively flat course starting in Visalia and ending Paso Robles 134.3 miles (216.1 km) later. With two sprint points and points at the finish, Mancebo and his team will have their work cut out for them.