Stage four of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California is 130 miles from Sonora to Clovis, the longest stage of the race. It just may turn out to be the most difficult as well, as riders confront roughly 5000 total feet of climbing over the course of the stage. Race leader Peter Sagan has really imposed his will on the competition so far, but whether he has what it takes for the whole of a long stage race is an unanswered question. He just may find his answer on stage four.
With that many climbs and an equal number of descents, the peloton may be split into pieces and a strong breakaway has a good chance at stealing the stage win. But with the descent into a long, flat finish, any breakaway that wants the stage is going to have to earn it. This stage comes the day before the individual time trial, so many of the GC contenders may decide to take it easy and save their legs for Thursday. That leaves the door open for a young, aggressive rider to take advantage. However it plays out, any stage that long, that much climbing, and featuring six climbs with King of the Mountain points, it will be anything but boring.
The GC Standings after stage three:
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 14:34:54
2 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda -:12
3 Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team -:24
4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy -:26
5 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling -:26
A good number of other riders, including all of the main GC threats, sit just past that at 30 seconds behind. An attack on a stage like this risks being burnt out for tomorrow, but a rider with a weak time trial may see today as their shot.
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