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Toyota's Juan Jos Haedo won his second stage of the Tour of California when he held off Oakland's 'Fast' Freddy Rodriguez at the end of a spectacular fourth stage from Monterey to San Luis Obispo. There was no notable change in the overall standings, with stage three time trial winner Floyd Landis holding the yellow jersey going into Friday's key mountain stage to Santa Barbara.
The riders spent much of Thursday on the Pacific Highway, which hugs the ocean in stunning fashion. But there was little chance for the peloton to admire the great views as Landis and his Phonak team battled to maintain their grip on the lead.
After numerous attempts to establish an early breakaway on the 210km stage, the race's longest, a group of eight successfully gained close to the 100km mark, despite the near 46kph average speed. Instigated by CSC's Lars Bak, the lead group swelled to 12, with Davitamon-Lotto's Chris Horner among those who joined the Dane. But the peloton kept the lead to around 90 seconds.
The breakaway lost numbers and some of its time gap as the course flattened out heading past San Simeon and Hearst Castle. But as the larger part of the breakaway was absorbed, Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel) and Glen Chadwick (Navigators) stayed clear and established a gap of 2-25 with 40km remaining.
However, there was never really much chance of the pair staying clear with the sprinters' teams scenting a chance to bag a win. Gusev and Chadwick were caught coming into San Luis Obispo, where Haedo once again demonstrated his current form and speed by holding off Rodriguez and Andr Korff (T-Mobile).
"I can't ask for any more," said Heado of his second win in the race. "I would hope for more, that's for sure, but I can go home today and be the happiest guy here."
Friday's stage takes the riders 169.5km to Santa Barbara via the Santa Ynez Mountains, where they will tackle the four-mile Category One climb to San Marcos Pass before descending to a beachfront finish in Santa Barbara.
Stage 4, Monterey-San Luis Obispo
1 Juan Jos Haedo (Arg) Toyota-United Pro 210.7km in 4.41.02 (44.98kph)
2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
3 Andr Korff (Ger) T-Mobile
4 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net
5 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly
6 Ren Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
7 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel
8 Jackson Stewart (USA) Kodakgallery.com
9 Josep Jufre (Spa) Davitamon-Lotto
10 Greg Henderson (NZ) Health Net
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 12.37.38
2 David Zabriskie (USA) CSC 0.29
3 Bobby Julich (USA) CSC 0.34
4 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 0.45
5 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Health Net 1.08
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 1.10
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 1.29
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.49
9 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC 1.55
10 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel 1.58
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