Francesco Chicchi saved Liquigas’ day as he stormed past Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia) and JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) to win Tour of California stage four in Modesto. This was billed as a stage for the sprinters and the fastmen didn’t disappoint. All the GC favorites finished in the front group; Garmin-Transitions rider Dave Zabriskie keeps the gold leader’s jersey.
Chicchi’s triumph raised his team’s spirits, not only because of his victory in the Amgen Tour of California, but also because of the drama which unfolded in Italy at the Giro d’Italia ten hours earlier. Team Liquigas is shouldering much of the blame for a day not seen in the Giro in many, many years when a large group of riders were allowed to gain over twelve minutes on the peloton.
While a game of chicken was being played out between Astana and Liquigas in Italy, the small breakaway composed of mostly domestic pro teams was not given the same freedom on the roads of California. In fact, while the break was dangling off the front, a crafty move by Team RadioShack almost split the race wide open.
Reminiscent of the crosswind chaos at last year’s Tour de France stage three to La Grand Motte, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer put the hammer down when the peloton turned into a crosswind. Both Mick Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) were caught out and ended up in the second echelon. However, there was no hesitation from either HTC-Columbia or Garmin-Transitions and the peloton reformed quickly.
In the end there was no harm done, but the move demonstrates just how important a win in this race is RadioShack and their new sponsor. Johan Bruyneel later confirmed that the Amgen Tour of California is second only to the Tour de France in the team’s priorities for 2010.
Tour of California 2010, stage four: San Jose – Modesto 195.5km
1. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo in 4-55-02
2. Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Saxo Bank
3. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia
4. Theo Bos (Ned) Cervelo
5. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Fly V Australia at same time.
Overall classification after stage four
1. David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Transitions
2. Michael Rogers (Aus) HTC-Columbia at 4secs
3. Levi Leipheimer (USA) RadioShack at 6secs
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo at 21secs
5. Marc De Maar (Ned) UnitedHealthcare at 24secs