By Les Clarke in Willunga
Starting and finishing in the sweltering furnace that was Willunga, stage four of the Tour Down Under was won by Russell Van Hout after an epic all-day breakaway effort. Sitting in a 20-rider break for the day, Van Hout broke free before the KOM at Willunga with teammate Paul Crake and headed for home, taking the win to a delighted hometown audience. "There was no doubt I could get up there first. It was just whether we could make it to the finish, that was all," said Van Hout at the finish.
Going into stage 4, all eyes were on the KOM at Willunga as overall leader Simon Gerrans went into the day seven seconds ahead of last year's champion, Luis Leon Sanchez. The Liberty Seguros rider and his team appeared confident at the start, with a battle royale on the cards as both he and Gerrans knew it was going to come down to the climb after 127 kilometres.
Sanchez's attack came at the predicted point of the race, and with the help of teammates Sylvain Calzati and JJ Luis Arrieta, Gerrans was able to track the young Spaniard's attack, making sure he maintained his lead in this year's tour. "I had Sylvain Calzati with me and he kept his cool, he kept calm and rode an easy tempo so I could hang onto his wheel. Then we caught JJ Luis Arrieta and he started working as well, and the two of them just towed me back up to Sanchez up the front. They just did an awesome job - it worked out absolutely perfectly," said Gerrans after the finish.