Stage four of the 2012 Amgen Tour of California ended exactly the same way the first three did: With Peter Sagan (Liquigas) beating Henrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) in a mad dash for the finish line. The 22 year old is now 4-4 in the 2012 tour, having one every stage by a clear margin. Haussler hasn't been able to outfox the young rider or outmuscle him, and he has four second place finishes to show for it. Rabobank's Michael Matthews came in third.
The weather didn't do the riders any favors on a long, tough day, as the tempature rose steadily throughout the day, reaching 90 degrees for the finish. 130 miles of that was too much for at least eight riders who abandoned the race Wednesday.
Stage four was the longest of the Tour, and the GC contenders were content to keep a steady pace over the mountains and let younger riders in the breakaway collect the King of the Mountain points. The leader in the King of the Mountain standings, Sebastian Salas (Optum Pro Cycling) took the first one, and the rest were split among the six men in the breakaway. Santa Rosa's Team BMC was represented in the breakaway by Yannick Eijssen, who took second place over the 3rd climb. This is Yannick's second year racing the Amgen Tour of California, as well as his second year as a professional. The peloton stayed close to the break, and once the climbs were over they quickly reeled them in. That left teams setting up for the sprint finish, and the long straight lead-in to the line played out exactly like stages one through three. Rabobank looked to set up Michael Matthews, Garmin set up Haussler, BMC was trying to delvier Tejay Van Garderen to the line, and Sagan simply gritted his teeth and blew past them all.
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 stronger GC contenders will undoubtedly put time into Sagan. With his fourth win bonus he now has fourty seconds over most of them, though, so he's done all he can to hold them off. After the time trial comes the serious mountains, where the heavyweights will make their moves and we will see a serious test of the young rider's abilities.
SB Nation Bay Area will continue to bring you previews, updates and more from the 2012 Amgen Tour of California. As always, SB Nation's cycling blog Podium Cafe has you covered for insight and analysis.