As the riders set off for yet another scenic stage of the Pro Cycling Challenge, they set a blistering pace leaving Avon at an average speed of 37mph; this time headed for the Northern ski town of Steamboat Springs.
The town of Avon shows it’s appreciation with a bit of street art.
Levi Leipheimer will no doubt be happy to retain the Yellow jersey going into stage 5 on Saturday, but while only holding 11 seconds over Christian Vandevelde and a mere 53 seconds separating the top 5 the race for the win is far from over.
Stage 4 sign in board.
George Hincapie starts the stage wearing Green.
After almost dropping out of the Pro Cycling Challenge before Stage 3 (TT) due to a bout with the stomach flu, local favorite Tom Danielson says he’s happy to be feeling much better and able to continue on.
Frank Schleck stops to sign a few autographs after signing into today’s stage.
The Colombians have done well to fuel the high altitude fears of the peloton with an aggressive approach to the Pro Cycling Challenge.
The field rolls off to start the first of two laps through Avon before setting out towards Steamboat.
The days break away. Five riders lead by, you guessed it, Gobernacion De Antioquia-Indeportes Antioquia.
The Peloton works to stop the increasing 3:00+ minute gap to the break away.
The climbs of Stage 4 prove to be a welcome break from the high Rocky Mountain passes endured so far.
Andy Schleck takes a moment to discuss with his Leopard Trek team.
The winner of today’s stage (Stage 4) and new Sprint leader, Elia Viviani riding for Liquigas Cannondale.
Mavic support moto.
…and finally a few select quotes from today…
Levi Leipheimer (USA): “Today was a nice day because it was a little bit shorter and flat, and I think all the riders were looking forward to that – it’s nice to have a mixture of stages. Liquigas did a lot of work and they deserved the win.”
Looking toward Stage 5: “I think there is a lot of chance for the other riders and competitors to attack and put us under pressure and I’m not going to assume otherwise. Tomorrow is a big obstacle on the way to Denver and we just have to take it day by day.”
Elia Viviani (ITA): “I think this victory is important for the team because Cannondale is a very important sponsor for us. We are in a good period right now because the rest of the team had a big win in the Vuelta yesterday. Today was just another demonstration that Liquigas-Cannondale is confident and good.”
His thoughts on being the new Sprint leader: “For me the Smashburger Sprint Jersey is very important – in the first stages I sprinted for this jersey. Tomorrow is a good stage for us because the last kilometer is in the climb and for me it is good for the last stage. I think tomorrow will work for us.”
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(All content, including images Copyright 2011 Curtis Lewis)