Road race world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin Cervelo) won stage 4 of the Tour of Britain in the Welsh town of Caerphilly and became only the second rider to win a stage of the race wearing a rainbow jersey, following Tom Boonen's win in London in 2007.
The Norwegian is out of contention for the overall, but second place Lars Boom (Rabobank) strengthened his lead on the yellow jersey by 12 seconds to Geraint Thomas (Sky) who moved up from third yesterday, to second today. Meanwhile fellow Brit Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) finished 44th on the stage and is now effectively off the short list for the overall.
"I am disappointed I got second to Hushovd, but he's a good winner, and I'm really happy with the team," said Boom. "The plan was to survive the day because it's maybe one of the most difficult stages of this race."
The race started with 93 men under the shadow the imposing Powis Castle, and attacks were as fast and furious as they were futile. A break of three riders did eventually get away and built up a lead of nearly six minutes while the peloton was clearly sitting up and admiring the stunning countryside of Wales. The trio consisted of Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp), Jack Bauer (Endura Racing) and Pieter Ghyllebert (An Post-Sean Kelly).
The 114-mile stage 4 took in the highest point of this year's Tour of Britain in the shape of the Brecon Beacons, of which there is a local Welsh saying, "If you can't see your hand at the top of the Brecon Beacons, then it means its raining. If you can see your hand at the top of the Brecon Beacons, then it means its about to start raining."
The leaders on Brecon Beacon
Fortunately, for the trio and the thousands of fans on Brecon Beacon, the mountains were in glorious sunshine. As they reached the start of the category 1 King of the Mountains climb, the threesome had a lead of 5:40, but by the time they got to the top, it had dwindled by three minutes to the peloton, which was still all together and being led by Team Sky and Rabobank. Russell Hampton (Sigma Sport) jumped away to mop up the remaining KoM points to extend his lead in the competition.
Overall leader Boom and his team had clear tactics before the start of the race. "We let the breakaway of three go so that Sky had to chase down the guys for the win, because I think (Geraint) Thomas lives round here."
The lead of the breakaway yo-yoed before being swallowed up by the bunch with four miles to go and a the stage was set for a bunch gallop which was won by the the Garmin-Cervelo rider Hushovd, who swept round the finishing corner with race leader Boom on his wheel and the relatively unknown Italian Cesare Benedetti of Team NetApp taking third. Despite increasing his lead today, Lars Boom was dealt a blow to his GC chances with the abandonment of Rabobank teammate Theo Bos.
Asked after the race if he thought that it would now be a battle between his Rabobank team and Sky, Boom replied pragmatically, "Maybe, because (Geraint) Thomas is a favourite for the GC."
The bizarre moment of the day came during the podium presentations when best young rider on GC Michael Matthews of Rabobank was presented with the King of the Mountains jersey, followed shortly after by Russell Hampton who was also, and correctly, presented with the spotty green jersey. Still, no one except a number of the attendant press seemed to notice the error.
This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.