Farrar Sprints to Victory in Stage 4 of Tour of California 2013
On the second of three consecutive stages favoring the sprinters rather than the climbers, Team Garmin-Sharp’s experienced lead-out guys fought their way through the heavily contested final kilometers, working hard to obtain a perfect position for the team’s sprint ace Tyler Farrar in the sprint to the finish line in Santa Barbara. Their hard work catapulted Farrar to his first stage victory in this year’s Tour of California.
“It’s been awhile, so, it feels good to get the monkey off my back,” commented Farrar, whose last win came in August 2012 at the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado Springs. “It was a great finish. This was a beautiful setting for a race finish, and I’m happy I won today.”
Farrar’s energy storm towards the finish line coincided with the end of the heatwave, which had left the people of California – and not least the riders in the Tour of California - thirsting for water in recent days. “I think everyone in the peloton was happy to see the water and have the temperature drop a bit. These last two days were brutal so everyone had a sigh of relief this morning.”
Team Garmin-Sharp also won today’s stage in the Giro d’Italia and Farrar was fast to mention the team’s success in Europe earlier today. “Having Ramunas [Navardauskas] win the Giro d’Italia stage was great for the team, and it’s kind of cool to have a double stage win today.”
Ten miles into the 84-mile (135.2 kilometer) course from Santa Clarita to Santa Barbara, six riders broke away from the main peloton group. The breakaway group kept their lead until they were reeled back in by the sprinter teams who worked hard at the front of the peloton.
The youngest rider in the breakaway, Bontrager Cycling Team’s Nathan Brown of Memphis, Tennessee rode nearly 70 miles in the lead group and was the last to be caught by the peloton, thus earning him the Most Courageous Rider Jersey and a visit to the podium in Santa Barbara after the stage.
“You’re just doing everything to be the first one to the line. I just put my head down and gave it everything I had,” said Brown. “I was hurting so bad but just had to hang on. There wasn’t much I could do today but I gave it everything.”
The breakaway held out until shortly after passing through Carpinteria, where Germany’s Jens Voigt of Team RadioShack-Leopard led peloton’s hard work to catch the breakaway riders around the 8-mile mark, followed out of the peloton by UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Lucas Euser.
With a unified peloton group and about six miles to the finish line, the sprinter teams took turns at the front to keep a high speed which would set up the sprinters for the final sprint to the finish line and prevent other riders from attacking prematurely. Team Garmin-Sharp and Team Cannondale Pro Cycling’s sprint trains led the peloton with about three miles left, waiting for the right time to bring their sprinters to the front for the dash to the line.
A roundabout on the course with about a mile and a half left to ride resulted in a surprise leap ahead of the pack by Ireland’s national road race champion Matt Brammeier, riding for Champion System, with riders from Team GreenEdge and Team Cannondale Pro Cycling in hot pursuit to pull him back.
In the final moments, Team Garmin-Sharp’s strategic riding paid off, with Farrar seizing victory by pulling ahead of Optum Pro Cycling’s Ken Hanson just before the finish line. Team Omega Pharma – QuickStep’s Belgian Gianni Meersman took third. Yesterday’s stage winner Peter Sagan of Cannondale Pro Cycling finished in fifth place after falling too far back in the peloton during the final meters to overtake the leaders.
“It was a really fast run into the finish – the last few kilometers were downhill. My team did a really good job taking care of me, and I was able to have the ideal position for the sprint,” Hanson commented after a visit to the podium. “I moved from Santa Barbara this past December. I lived here from 2007 to 2012. This was a really special stage for me, and I’m happy to get on the podium in second place.”
There was no change to the overall leader standings with Team Jamis-Hagens Berman’s Janier Alexis Acevedo of Columbia maintaining the overall race lead 12 seconds ahead of BMC Racing Team’s Tejay van Garderen and 27 seconds ahead of Philip Deignan of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling.
“I’m very happy to continue wearing the yellow jersey every day,” Acevedo commented and added “It was difficult today. It was a hard stage with high speeds. But in the end my team was helping me to keep the yellow jersey.”
Cannondale Pro Cycling’s Peter Sagan remained leader of the Visit California Sprint classification. BISSELL Pro Cycling’s Carter Jones of Boulder, Colorado continues to hold onto the King of the Mountain Jersey for a fourth day, and the Best Young Rider Jersey will continue to be worn by Bontrager Cycling Team’s 21-year-old cyclist Lawson Craddock of Austin, Texas.