"It's not over until it's over. Luckily enough today, we'll have created some good gaps in the GC again, and there's only maybe 2 guys to really watch. We'll go out there fighting tomorrow and try to bring it home for two tours in two weeks." said Sutherland.
Escapees from the break, Australian Caleb Manion (Toyota-United) outsprinted James Mattis (Cal Giant) to win stage 4, and a charging Sutherland came in third, four seconds back. Mattis attacked the break on the final climb and Manion jumped on his wheel ahead of a charging riders from the field.
"It was a pretty hard climb, it's my first time here so I didn't know what to expect. I think James from Cal Giant, he attacked really early, maybe 4K to go, I thought it was actually a little bit to early but he got such a big gap straight away, I was like 'I sort of better go now'. So I sort of jumped across to him, he was going really, really strong, that's how it stayed, I did a few turns, he did a lot of work actually, he was really strong, then we come together with 200 to go and then it was a sprint to the line." said Manion.
"When I got cleared, Caleb came up to me, I was like, 'I know he's a faster sprinter, he's probably a faster climber, but if I ride tempo I might be able to hold off and get second' - for us, being an amateur team, it's a big race, it's big stuff - 'alright, I'm just going to go as hard as I can, as long as I can', I hear the yellow jersey group is coming up, and I'm like 'come on just hold them off', here you see you see 1K to go, and I know this k[ilometer] is like 5K, so it was really good." said Mattis.
The pace was high from the start of the race with riders trying to initiate a break. Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe's), Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing), Symmetrics and Bissell riders were in the mix, trying to shake things up. Health Net-Maxxis shut down any move that had dangerous riders, and other teams were trying to put in multiple riders in every move. It made for chaotic conditions.
"It actually took a long time, never could get the right combination, everyone was actually a little bit to the limit trying to get the break going." said Manion.
Finally at around 35 miles (56 k) into the race, a 10 man break escaped from the field, and sensing that this was the right break, two Bissell riders started to bridge. Omer Kem dropped from the break to escort his teammates, making it a dozen. The break was composed of Caleb Manion (Toyota-United), Kelly Benefit/Medifast pair of Andy Bajadali and Dan Bowman, Cal Giant teammates James Mattis and U23 National Champion Max Jenkins Alister Ratcliff (Fiordifrutta), Jamie Sparling (Trek Red-Truck), Successful Living duo JR Grabinger and Alessandro Bazzana and Aaron Olson and Teddy King joining Kem to form the Bissell trio.
"They [Bissell] were going for GC and everyone was happy, a few people going for stage win, everyone was happy in the move, everyone was working so it made easy, no one mucking around sitting on. It was perfect." said Manion about the cooperation in the break.
Health Net-Maxxis squad was at the front of the field leading the chase but the break managed to get a gap of 4 minutes and 15 seconds making King the virtual leader on the road.
With 20 miles to go, Symmetrics and BMC put riders in the rotation to help reel in the break. BMC was protecting Darren Lill's GC position but the motive for the Symmetrics riders is more nebulous.
The gap started to come down, and a few riders dropped from the break, exhausted from the high pace. With 10 miles (16 kms) to go, it was at two minutes and fifty seconds. With 3 miles (5 kms) to go, Bazzana, Kem and Bowman came to the front to try and set up their respective climber for the stage win, and Mattis took advantage of the opportunity.
"Coming up the climb with 5K to go, and I knew that we were on where the course came in last year, basically three of the teams sent one guy in at front, one guy pulled off and there was a gap behind him, the guys were sort of waiting for the finish, they all started to play games. I just like 'boom', and they just sort of looked at each other back there, and Caleb came up." said Mattis.
Lill initiated the attack to drop Jacques-Maynes on the final climb as the field caught the remnants of the break. "I was tucked straight into his wheel. He made me fight to hold the wheel all the way to the finish." said Sutherland about Lill's attack.
Sutherland came around Lill with 150 meters to go to take third place on the stage.
Sutherland keep the lead on the leader's jersey. Jacques-Maynes was not able to follow, and lost seconds before the finish line moving him down to third in the overall classification with Lill moving up into second. Successful Living team's Brad White and JR Grabinger moved up in the overall classification to sixth and ninth spots respectively.
Top 10 Stage Results
1 Caleb Manion (USA) Toyota-United 4.12.47
2 James Mattis (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/ Specialized 0.04
3 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net/Maxis 0.20
4 Michael Grabinger (USA) Successful Living.com P/B Parkpre
5 Andrew Bajadali (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast
6 Edward King (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling Team
7 Darren Lill (USA) BMC Pro Cycling Team
8 Bradley White (USA) Successful Living.com P/B Parkpre 0.36
9 Michael Creed (USA) Rock Racing
10 Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling Team
Top 10 General Classification after Stage 4
1 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net/Maxis 10.10.59
2 Darren Lill (USA) BMC Pro Cycling Team 0.31
3 Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling Team 0.46
4 Michael Creed (USA) Rock Racing 1.40
5 Edward King (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling Team 1.41
6 Bradley White (USA) Successful Living.com P/B Parkpre 2.05
7 Phil Zajicek (USA) Health Net/Maxis 2.21
8 Andrew Bajadali (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast 2.40
9 Michael Grabinger (USA) Successful Living.com P/B Parkpre 2.57
10 Caleb Manion (USA) Toyota-United 2.58