Riding a Cannondale decked out in a 'new sherriff in town' colour scheme, Italian Francesco Chicchi won a well disciplined gallop for his Liquigas-Doimo team in the Californian city of Modesto, ahead of Saxo Bank's Argentinian Juan José Haedo and HTC-Columbia's top Brit Mark Cavendish.
The Italians may be failing to make an impression in their own Giro d'Italia running concurrently with this stateside baby Grand Tour but the Liquigas-Doimo team did their fair share of the work to haul back an all-day break finally whittled down to heroic Dutchman Lars Boom who was caught with 6 km to go.
Race leader Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Transitions) retained the overall lead and all the favorites including second and third placed Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) and Levi Leipheimer ( RadioShack) crossed the line safely with the main group. There was a good-for-TV, heart-stopping moment on the last of the two laps of the Modesto finishing circuit when Lance Armstrong appeared to be run off the road by a stray faller but under the '3 km ' rule he came in escorted by the smiling Radio Shack team in the same time as the sprinters.
That was at midnight our time and by 6am there were the first stirrings of the seasonal 'Dopegate' media firestorm. Stand by.
Tour of California Stage 4 Top 12 Result
1. Francesco Chicchi Liquigas-Doimo in 04:55:02 10s bonus 2. Jose Haedo Juan Saxo Bank 6s bonus 3. Mark Cavendish HTC-Columbia 4s bonus 4. Theo Bos Cervélo TestTeam 5. Jonathan Cantwell Fly V Australia 6. Alexander Kristoff BMC Racing Team 7. Ken Hanson Team Type 1 8. Andreas Stauff Quick Step 9. Alex Candelario Kelly Benefit Strategies 10. Guillaume Boivin SpiderTech 11. George Hincapie BMC Racing Team 12. Heinrich Haussler Cervélo TestTeam all same time
Tour of California 2010 Overall Standings Top 12
1. David Zabriskie Garmin-Transitions in 18:04:35 2. Michael Rogers HTC-Columbia at 00:00:04 3. Levi Leipheimer RadioShack at 00:00:06 4. Peter Sagan Liquigas-Doimo at 00:00:21 5. Marc De Maar Unitedhealthcare at 00:00:24 6. Janez Brajkovic RadioShack at 00:00:27 7. Ryder Hesjedal Garmin-Transitions at 00:00:27 8. Peter Stetina Garmin-Transitions at 00:00:27 9. Thomas Danielson Garmin-Transitions at 00:00:27 10. Rory Sutherland Unitedhealthcare at 00:00:27 11. Christopher Horner RadioShack at 00:00:27 12. Jose Luis Rubiera RadioShack at 00:00:27