After stage 3 at the Tour Down Under proved to be a day for the puncheurs and not the GC contenders, the Corkscrew climb in the finale of stage 4 became the first real climbing challenge of the race.
The narrow climb is preceded by a tight left-hand turn and as the GC teams jostled for the best position, it was Team Sky that took control and duly dropped off their leader Wout Poels at the foot of the climb in a perfect position. He then forced the attack.
"It was perfect how we did it," Poels said after the stage speaking with Cyclingnews. "With 20km to go it was really important to make a left turn in the front and we did it perfectly how we wanted to do it.
"I opened it up on the steep part and I thought we had a nice gap and we would go full gas to the finish but unfortunately it was a little bit too long to the finish."
Poels was the first to attack from the leading group mid-way up the Corkscrew and was soon joined by Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), who collaborated to open up a gap on the chase group including race leader Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), former race winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) and last year's overall winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott).
However, the leading group was caught on the 5.7km descent into Athelstone and Impey, Bevin and Sanchez took the top three places in the eventual 20 rider bunch sprint, with Bevin retaining the leader's ochre jersey.
Stage 5 is expected to finish in a bunch sprint and it will be the double ascent of Willunga Hill on Sunday that should decide the overall winner of the 21st edition of the race.
Porte has won the past five stages finishing on the climb and will go into the final stage as the out and out favourite once more. However, whether Porte and challengers Woods, Bennett and Poels can put a big enough gap into Bevin with the inevitable attacks is yet to be seen.
"Bevin is in really good shape. I think he's already is 25 seconds in front, it's going to be difficult on Willunga Hill so we will see. I hope to attack again and take some time and seconds to try to drop him but it will be difficult.
"I think today we [Porte, Bennett and Woods] were at the same level because we were together. I have to say all of them were making a really strong impression.
"I thought last year in the Tour of Britain that Bevin was going well and he's just a really strong rider so I'm not really surprised."
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