Stage 4 Livermore/San Jose

Stage 4 was the first big mountain stage with over 8,500' of climbing, 5 KOM (King of the Mountains) climbs including a "hors categorie" (beyond categorization) climb up the backside of Mt. Hamilton to the Lick Observatory and a Category 1 climb up Sierra Rd to the finish line in San Jose. We started out in cloudy, cool weather and began climbing almost immediately up to the first KOM point on Mines Rd. The group quickly broke into several smaller groups and I spent much of the day with TJ Donnelly, J-F Courville and Alan Jette. The higher we went, the cooler and damper it became all the way to the cloud & fog shrouded summit of Mt. Hamilton. I'm not sure anyone noticed the multiple observatories there. The weather improved by the time the pro peloton arrived at the top and the helicopter shots of Mt. Hamilton on Versus TV were spectacular.

A group including TJ, J-F, Alan, myself and now Tim Hockey and Chris Carmichael began the 18 mile descent into San Jose. The first few miles were very tight switchbacks which apparently required massive power output from Tim. We heard a loud "crack" and there was Tim, coasting to a stop with both pedals hanging down and spinning freely due to a sheared crank bolt. Unfortunately, he was done for the day. Luckily, friends and our mechanics had him back on the road the next day. The balance of the descent opened up into sunny weather with wide sweeping turns on a wonderful road that required barely a touch of the brakes for miles and miles. What a glorious run downhill!

That downhill run brought us into San Jose and the final, very wicked climb up Sierra Rd to the mountain top finish. From the bottom it appeared to be straight up a wall and turned out to be just that; averaging over 10% with ramps of 15% or more the first 2.8 miles and gaining close to 2,000' in barely 3 miles. It was a very challenging but wonderful and very satisfying day with our entire team arriving at the summit ahead of the peloton. On the pro side, this was the day the overall race was won by Chris Horner, with Team RadioShack, when he started up Sierra Rd with a group, dropped them all, and finished over a minute ahead of the next rider. After that incredible climbing performance he had race all but won.

Click on any photo to open a gallery of larger images. Click here to play Alain's Finish Line Video below

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