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Tour De France 2011, Stage Four Preview: Levi Leipheimer, Rest Of Peloton Face Physical Hills

The 2011 Tour De France continues its run through Brittany in the northwest of France with arguably the most physically demanding stage thus far. While stage one featured a late climb to the finish, stage four is the first stage with a consistent mix of hills throughout the stage. As the Tour website described it, "What is for sure is that there won't be any sprinters in contention."

This fourth stage is shorter than stage one, but it provides a greater mix of hills. Although the climbs are not dramatic by any stretch, they are enough that pure sprinters will likely lag behind. Race leader Thor Hushovd. Once again the stage will finish on a hill this time 2km long which should favor the strongmen while keeping the overall contenders on their feet. Levi Leiphimer and his Radio Shack team will want to keep towards the front of the peloton in the final few kilometers to keep safe. As this stage has no 3km safe zone on the finish, Bay area cycling fans can probably expect to see Levi and his teammates finish in the top 20-30, thus avoiding any significant time gaps.

The stage kicks off at 5:00am pacific on VERSUS with re-plays at 9am, 11:30am, 5pm, and 9pm. NBCSports.com provides a subscription option if you find yourself looking for a live online stream.

We'll be here for the entire race providing news updates and stage previews and recaps, particularly as they relate to Bay Area cyclist Levi Leipheimer. For more in-depth discussion on the 2011 Tour De France, head over to Podium Cafe. For more general Tour coverage, head over to the SB Nation story stream.