Tour Down Under: Cosnefroy pushes through the pain to spend day in break

While most of the chat was, quite rightly, about the four climbers – Wout Poels, Michael Woods, Richie Porte and George Bennett – who attacked on the Corkscrew climb approaching the finish of stage 4 of the Tour Down Under on Friday before Daryl Impey roared to the stage win, six different riders had garnered most of the coverage on TV by spending the day in a breakaway.

In the break, Benoît Cosnefroy was easy enough to pick out in his distinctive blue, white and brown AG2R La Mondiale team kit, but what made the 23-year-old Frenchman stand out even more was the considerable, bright white bandaging completely covering his right arm and leg.

Cosnefroy had crashed heavily on stage 2 between Norwood and Angaston, inside the final kilometre as the bunch wound up for the sprint finish in the Barossa Valley town, and after taking a day to assess the damage on Thursday, the second-year pro had decided not to let the crash curtail his Australian ambitions, bravely breaking away in the company of Miles Scotson (Groupama-FDJ, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), UniSA-Australia's Nick White, Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida) and Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar) soon after the 129.2km stage had begun.

"I was disappointed to have crashed as I was feeling in great form before it happened," Cosnefroy told Cyclingnews. "So I decided to have some fun instead, and got in the breakaway, which stayed away for most of the day.

"I could definitely still feel the after-effects of the crash, though, so I wasn't able to do exactly what I wanted out there," said Cosnefroy, who was the first rider from the break to be caught by the chasers on the approach to Corkscrew.

"But it was great fun to be away in the break all day, and my injuries aren't too bad. OK – it's not ideal, as it's still painful, but I luckily didn't do any lasting damage. Nothing's broken, and they're just superficial injuries, so I'm basically OK."

The move by the 2017 under-23 road race world champion drew praise from AG2R La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu after the stage.

"Benoît is a fantastic, attacking rider, and so I think he was a bit frustrated after he crashed the other day," Lavenu said to Cyclingnews. "It was actually a pretty heavy crash – he came down hard – so it really derailed his ambitions.

"Benoît came here with big ambitions, and so getting in the break today [Friday] was his response to the disappointment of the crash, so it's been a great day for him, even though it was caught in the end."

Lavenu and Cosnefroy also agreed that that the slightly cooler weather that descended on the race on Friday also helped the breakway's efforts.

"It was much better weather for racing today, and a faster stage as a result, with riders like Sütterlin in the break, who also always gives it everything," said Lavenu.

"Personally, I didn't really mind the heat we had earlier in the week," added Cosnefroy, "but it was a lot cooler today, and that was better for me seeing as I'm wrapped up in all these bandages."

Would he try to go on the attack again before the race finishes on Willunga Hill on Sunday?

"Why not?" smiled Cosnefroy. "But first we'll have to see what the team's strategy is for the last two stages."

The Cyclingnews podcast is brought to you in association with Sportful, Pinarello and Floyd's of Leadville.

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