Race report

Alberto Dainese sprints to strong 5th place on stage 4

Santos Tour Down Under

Stage four of the Tour Down Under saw the peloton faced with 152 kilometres from Norwood to Murray Bridge. A sprint finish was expected at the end of the day but as the peloton rolled out from Norwood, the the threat of crosswinds in the finale of the stage led to nervousness in the bunch.

An interesting tactical battle took place early in the day, with no breakaway allowed to establish itself at the head of the race in the opening 40 kilometres. This was due to the two intermediate sprints coming early within the stage and the fight for bonus seconds between the GC contenders was fierce. Robert Power showed a quick turn of speed at the second intermediate sprint to claim one bonus second and move within eight seconds of the race lead.

A breakaway of five then soon formed after the second sprint and their advantage peaked at just over two minutes. However, with the threat of crosswinds looming, the peloton charged along and reduced the gap to 40 seconds with over 50 kilometres remaining. The gap held for a long time before the break was eventually caught with 26 kilometres to go.

Despite a few flurries, the forecasted crosswinds didn’t have a major effect on the peloton and the bunch was together for the finale. Yet, it was still a stressful stage finish within the peloton and after keeping Power safe, the team switched focus to help position Alberto Dainese for the sprint finish into Murray Bridge.

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen dug deep to bring Dainese into the first 15 positions as the race entered the final two kilometres, dropping the Italian off in the wheels amongst the other sprint trains. It was a hectic run in to the line as the road narrowed. Dainese moved up the inside through the last corner with 300 metres to go, starting his sprint from around tenth wheel. Surging past several riders as the line approached, he showed his potential and claimed a strong fifth place finish.

All of the GC riders ended the day within the bunch and there were no splits at the line. As a result and after his bonus second earlier in the stage, Power moves within eight seconds of race leader Porte and maintains his third place in the standings.

“We were really close together throughout the race so it was really good to see all the guys commit to the goals of protecting Rob and going for the sprint with me,” explained Dainese after the stage. “In the last kilometres I had really good support from the guys for the finish. In the final corner I was a bit far back so tried to pass the other sprinters on the inside. It was a bit of a standing start to the sprint out of the corner but I managed to pass a few guys for fifth. We showed good teamwork today and are already improving a lot in the sprints.”

Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts added: “Today we had two bonus sprints early in the stage and we knew Mitchelton would be going for them with Impey. Also for us it was a good opportunity to pick up some bonus seconds as Rob is pretty handy in the sprints over his GC rivals and he did well to take one second. In the final it was windy and it got quite nervous in the bunch. We wanted to keep Rob safe and we were able to tick that box as he came over the finish line on the same time as the rest of the GC guys. Our other focus was to do a good sprint with Alberto. Unfortunately he didn’t quite have the best position in the final kilometre and he had to start his sprint from around tenth position. He still managed a good fifth place on the line so it shows how quick he is and we will keep on working to improve our lead outs and chase good results.”

Results

Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 EWAN Caleb Lotto Soudal 3:29:08 60
2 BENNETT Sam Deceuninck - Quick Step ,, 25
3 PHILIPSEN Jasper UAE-Team Emirates ,, 10
5 DAINESE Alberto Team Sunweb ,, -
39 POWER Robert Team Sunweb ,, -
41 STORK Florian Team Sunweb ,, -
50 HINDLEY Jai Team Sunweb ,, -
69 STORER Michael Team Sunweb ,, -
89 KANTER Max Team Sunweb 0:36 -
126 KRAGH ANDERSEN Asbjørn Team Sunweb 2:28 -