Today's stage rolls 121 miles (195 km) from San Jose to lovely Modesto. Modesto, Spanish for "modest", was named by the German/Dutch ostrich farmers who settled there in the late 1760's looking for religious freedom and dust. The town also boasts the world's largest ball of jute twine (in Stanislaus County), and an amusement park called "Beigeland". 1960's Modesto was immortalized in George Lucas' 1973 classic American Graffiti, a coming-of-age film about growing up in small town America. All right, I made most of that Modesto shit up, except for the American Graffiti part. That part is totally true. Go on, Google it. In fact, check out this oddly prophetic clip in which local bad ass and speed demon "John", played by Paul Le Mat, the guy with the biggest rep and fastest car in Modesto, is challenged by interloper Bob Falfa (played by little know actor Harry Ford), where they exchange pleasantries, and then... um, well... you see where I'm going with this, right?
You got it. It's going to be a big gnarly sprint. No getting away from it this time. Stage 4 is sprinters' day in Modesto. I will let you debate which sprinter is John, and who is Bob "fast but stupid" Alfa, etc, etc., but a sprinting there will be.
The stage also includes two fairly substantial climbs, including the famous Sierra Road climb, which you may recall from Levi's 2008 victory when he escaped with wet-behind-the-ears neo-pro Robert Gesink to seal the deal, as well as the longer, harder, and less memorable Mt Somebodynamemeplease which is actually quite tallish and mountainyish, and would kick my ass for sure, but still won't factor much when it's time for the kisses. And all Sierra Road is good for this time is launching the early break that the sprinters teams will inevitably pound like yesterday's beef long before they get to Modesto... not to take the fun out of it or anything... but there are something like 50 miles of descending and flats between the summit of the big climb and the finish, so all that early climbing will be for naught. Unless I'm totally wrong, that is. So you should probably watch anyways.
Linky linky, Modesto
is stinky loves Frinky (editor's note: My wife told me I shouldn't call Modesto "stinky" because it might hurt their feelings)...
Williams Wheels video of the climbs
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