Ballerini wins stage 4 of Tour de Wallonie as breakaway holds on

David Ballerini wins stage 4 of Tour de Wallonie
David Ballerini wins stage 4 of Tour de Wallonie (Image credit: Getty Images)

Davide Ballerini (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) finally clinched his first victory of the season on stage 4 of the Tour de Wallonie, sprinting clear from a breakaway that held on by the skin of its teeth. 

Ballerini had been part of a six-man escape that went clear in the very earliest phases of the 200.8km stage from Durbuy to to Couvin, and was there as it reduced to three over the late climb of the Côte du Barrage du Ry de Rome. 

With 6km to go, they had just 10 seconds in hand over a reduced and fragmented bunch but crucially they found support from Mattias Skjelmose Jensen (Trek-Segafredo), who sprang a counter-attack from behind. 

The Danish rider was looking to make gains on the general classification and was happy to push the group down the descent and through the run-in. The breakaway trio could hardly believe their luck, and Ballerini licked his lips as the fastest finisher among them. 

He duly delivered, surging to the line and winning by several bike lengths. Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar) was second and Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) third, while Jensen's efforts were without reward as Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) led home the reduced bunch a split-second later. 

"It was really difficult because we were losing time, at one point we lost five minutes in 20km, so I was thinking it was another hard day. But we kept going and tried to stay together to the end," Ballerini said. 

"The feeling was really good. I know I have the potential, but I wait a long time from last year [for a win]."

Race leader Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) had to respond to a series of attacks on the final climbs but finished safely in the reduced bunch to retain the overall lead.

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