The Frenchman finished safely in the main group on what was another tough stage in the US race.
Stage 4 of the Tour of California (Morro Bay – Monterrey County, 217 kilometers) had to wait for more than an hour to see a group push clear from the peloton, but before this happened, race leader Julian Alaphilippe got himself involved at the first intermediate sprint of the day and took three bonus seconds, which saw him extend his lead in the general classification. Shortly after, once things cooled down, Ryan Anderson (Direct Energie), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Greg Daniel (Axeon Cycling), Michael Mørkøv (Katusha), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Timo Roosen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Will Routley (Rally Cycling) booked a place in the escape and earned a maximum advantage of five minutes.
In the second half of the day, the bunch started the serious chase, with Etixx – Quick-Step and Tinkoff picking up the speed at the forefront. The work started to pay off, as the pack cut the gap to less than two minutes ahead of the last categorized climbs, Laureles Grade and Mazda Raceway. From the break, Greg Daniel attacked and opened a lead of 30 seconds, while behind, several riders accelerated from the bunch and tried to bridge across, but that action was fruitless.
On the last ascent (1.1 km and ramps of 10%), the US rider's action came to an end, and once he was reabsorbed, other attacks were launched, both on the climb and the descent, which led to the group splitting. Winner on Gibraltar Road the day before, Julian Alaphilippe was among the ones to make the cut and finished in the same time with the winner, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who out-kicked Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data).
"Today it wasn't easy at all, because of the fast speed of the peloton in the first hour of racing and of the heat, the latter making that tough final climb even more difficult. I suffered there, but fortunately I managed to close the attacks, don't lose any time and even extend my lead in the GC, which is a good thing. A big thanks goes to my team for helping me out since the start of the day. Now I'm looking forward to the next stage and the opportunities it can present", said Julian Alaphilippe, who will enjoy his second day in the yellow jersey during the stage which will take the peloton between Lodi and South Lake Tahoe, over 212 kilometers.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele