The stages of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California have begun to blur together, as stage four played out exactly as the previous three have: with Peter Sagan (Liquigas) putting the hammer down at the line, and Henrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) trying in vain to find some way to beat him. Sagan won his fourth stage in a row, having one every stage of the tour so far, and Haussler finished second for the fourth stage in a row, now having failed four times to outmuscle or outfox Sagan. Rabobank's Michael Matthews came in third. Stage four was the longest of the tour, 130 miles in temperatures of up to 90 degrees, and the heat and the repeated climbing combined to cause eight riders to abandon the race.
While the peloton and the GC contenders kept a steady pace through the stage, they were content to let a breakaway of young riders tackle most of the climbs at full speed. Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling), the current leader in the King of the Mountain competition, picked up the first points of the day and the rest were split amongst the riders in the breakaway. The peloton chased the break down on the descent of the final climb, and from there it was a straight, flat shot into Clovis for the finish. Garmin-Barracuda worked to deliver Haussler to the line, Rabobank set up the leadout train for Michael Matthews, but in the end it was Liquigas and Sagan who took the victory.
The GC Standings after stage four:
1) Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 28:01:37
2) Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:16
3) Jeffry Louder (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:34
4) Alex Howes (USA) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:35
5) Fred Rodriguez (USA) Team Exergy 0:00:36
6) Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Cycling
7) Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan
8) Marc De Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 0:00:37
9) Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:00:38
10) Josh Atkins (NZl) Bontrager Livestrong Team 0:00:39
Stage five is the individual time trial, where the heavyweight GC contenders will inevitably get some time back from Sagan. He's picked up four ten second win bonuses with his victories, though, so there isn't much more he could have done to attempt to hold on to his lead.
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