The War of Attrition – 7.5 hours, inches of rain, riders dropping

When the pros have to reach back to Oslo in the mid 90s to think of a race as long, and wet and miserable, you know that you’ve got a race as difficult as any you’re likely to see. When the winner was asked for a finish line quote, he just gasped for air, unable to even speak.

Throughout the day, riders were dropping by the wayside, just too beaten down to continue. It’ll be interesting to see who shows up tomorrow for the time trials.

Tour of California Stage 4 at 16 miles.  Who knew what was ahead.

Tour of California Stage 4 at 16 miles. Who knew what was ahead.

Stage 4 from Seaside to San Luis Obispo of the Amgen Tour of California was an epic marathon that forced the riders to battle rain, wind, stomach viruses and hills along 135Team Astana Starts Working miles of the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway.

For much of the race the Astana team was forced to do all of the work leading the peleton in support of their man Levi Leipheimer. They got some revenge by riding so close to the left margin of the road that the following peleton had to ride in the gutter to keep in their slipstream.

It rained the entire day and a nasty headwind combined with cold temperatures to make the Queen stage miserable for the peloton. Team Astana still working 5 hours later

(Here is Team Astana still working 5 hours later. Hey TDF: You really want to keep out a team that works this hard? Who you afraid of?)

A ten-man break escaped early and it eventually withered to eight riders.

Not having much fun

Here’s Hincapie working hard in the breakaway

Hincapie at 5 hours on stage 4 breakaway Tour of California

But nobody was having much fun anywhere. Stewart Jackson dropped out with hypothermia and the rest of the Peleton just looked miserable. But they soldiered on.

stage 4 weather wipes out riders at tour of california

A late attack from Toyota-United’s Dominique Rollin shattered the break

stage-4-still-pushing-hard.jpgand everyone except for High Road’s George Hincapie and Saunier Duval-Scott’s Iker Camano were dropped and later caught by the CSC-driven field.

Rollin gets away from Hincapie stage 4 tour of california 2008

Rollin rolling away from the field.

The two rode in desperate pursuit of the young Canadian, but Rollin managed to hold them off to pocket the win solo after almost 7-and-a-half hours in the saddle.

Rollin gets his win

His Toyota-United remains the only domestic team to win a stage of the Amgen Tour of California.

Everyone else is just happy to have survived.stage-4-finish-are-we-there-yet.jpg