Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) surged from the leading group of six riders in Durbuy and won stage 4 of the Baloise Belgium Tour. Mauro Schmid (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) finished second and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) took third.
As part of the select group that put time into the peloton early in the race, Wellens rode most of the stage as the new virtual GC leader, but at the conclusion it was Schmid who took the top position. Previous race leader Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) finished more than two minutes back.
From the breakaway, Lorenzo Rota ((Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) claimed fourth, while Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Fenix) faded on the final 1.2km climb to the finish to go fifth.
The local circuits includes four passes up the Mur de Durbuy, the final ascent on the double-digit gradients bringing riders to the electric finish. De Bondt accelerated several times across the final 8km, then fell off the back in the final kilometre. Hermans emerged as the strongest on the hills and in the heat, and rode uncontested across the line.
Schmid began the 172.2km stage 4, the toughest of the five days, 26 seconds off the GC lead. After collecting three bonus seconds at the Golden Kilometer sprint, he added more bonus time for placing second on the stage and jumped from sixth place. He took over as the race leader based on the difference in time from the time trial between him and Wellens, which worked out to hundreds of a second. Stage winner Hermans is third overall.
“I knew it could be very close in the end and it would come down to the bonifications at the finish and in the Golden Kilometer if we stayed together. We did a good job as a team, with me in the break and the other guys controlling what was happening in the bunch behind on a hard and incredibly hot day,” Schmid said after the stage.
“I tried to save the legs a bit for the finale, but I felt the effort on the last climb, where I knew Quinten would be strong. When I noticed Tim was dropped, I searched for the last ounce of energy to gain as much time as possible, and I’m happy I got rewarded with the leader’s jersey. We’ll see what we can do on the last stage, but the plan is to try to defend this jersey and help Fabio [Jakobsen] go for the win.”
After the opening 22km, De Bondt was part of a five-rider group that attacked from the peloton, joined by Tobias Lund Andresen (Team DSM), Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel-Premier Tech), Quentin Jauregui (B&B Hotels - KTM) and Marco Tizza (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB).
Following the opening long loop, multiple attacks began from two chase groups, as a small split had formed from the peloton. Hermans was one of the first to accelerate with less than 90km to go.
Another 20 kilometres of hills were covered before a group of chasers would catch the initial breakaway and the number swelled to 11, Hermans tagging on with Rota, Campenaerts, Schmid, Wellens and Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X Pro Cycling). Among the riders now in full chase mode were Pedersen as well as Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix).
Andresen was dropped with 55km to go with Jauregui and Van Asbroeck fading, then Tizza and Tiller next to drop back 21km later. Campenaerts stayed in the mix until the final 5km, finishing sixth, 2:20 back with Mark Donovan (Team DSM).
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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).
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