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Tour of the Basque Country 2019: Stage 4

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Hello there, and welcome back to the Cyclingnews live race centre for more from the Basque Country. It's stage 4 today, running 163.6km from Vitoria to Arrigorriaga with more hills on the menu.

 

Here's the stage profile. It's a net loss in terms of elevation but it's an undulating parcours with four categorised climbs. The last one tops out just 5km from the finish line. 

 

 

As we pick up the action, with just under 100 kilometres remaining, the riders have crested the first climb, Campa Hafade. A breakaway of seven riders formed a little earlier and they lead the peloton by just under three minutes.

 

The breakaway riders are:

 

Carlos Verona (Movistar)

Stephen Williams (Bahrain-Merida)

Maxime Monfort (Lotto-Soudal)

Tsgabu Grmay (Mitchelton-Scott)

Alessandro De Marchi (CCC Team)

Michael Storer (Team Sunweb)

Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Murias)

 

The Basque Country wouldn't be the Basque Country without rain, and it's coming down again today.

 

The riders are descending - with a couple of brief interruptions - towards the feed zone and the next climb. 

 

There has been a crash on the descent, and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) and Ricardo Vilela (Burgos-BH) have had to abandon the race as a result. More on their injuries as we find out. 

 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) has also had to abandon. 

 

It has been a crash-riddled Tour of the Basque Country so far, with a number of high-profile abandons. Roche, Vilela, and Kwiatkowski follow seven others yesterday, including Julian Alaphilippe, Steve Cummings and Jonathan Castroviejo yesterday - the latter two breaking their collarbones.

 

Here's our story on Alaphilippe, who won stage 2 and was second overall. He got up and finished yesterday but his team made the decision not to start him today and will monitor his progress ahead of the Ardennes Classics. 

 

Alaphilippe exits Tour of the Basque Country after previous day's crash

 

Another one. Daan Olivier (Jumbo-Visma) has left the race. 

 

86km remaining from 163km

The gap between the seven leaders and the peloton is down to 2:45 as Bora-Hansgrohe take control for overall leader Max Schachmann. 

 

Schachmann is absolutely flying this season and has won two of the three stages here at the Basque Country. After the opening-day time trial, he triumphed yesterday on the uphill finish at Estibaliz. Report, results, photos all at this link

 

 

News of more abandons after that crash. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Caja Rural) is the fifth rider to leave the race today.

 

Our top story today concerns Marcel Kittel, and the fact that his team are very concerned about him. The German is having another difficult season and was dropped on the flat at Scheldeprijs yesterday. "It makes no sense", says Katusha DS Dirk Demol. Meanwhile Jurgen Van den Broeck - now a commentator on Sporza, it turns out - says he's heard Kittel has been drinking "too much beer and wine".

 

Anyway, full story at this link

 

71km remaining from 163km

The breakaway riders are about to begin the second climb of the day, the third-category Garate. 

 

 

On the lower slopes of the climb the gap has been reduced to 2:30. Bora lead the peloton still. 

 

More on the injury list from yesterday. Cummings and Castroviejo both broke collarbones. The Spaniard broke several other bones as well, it turns out. Full story here

 

64km remaining from 163km

Iturria, who was first to the top of the first climb, repeats the trick atop Garate. Verona and De Marchi were next to crest. 

 

The peloton are over the top 2:15 in arrears.

 

It's been a busy news day. Pinarello have done a new bike, which will be used by Team Sky at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. It features front and rear suspension - controlled electronically - to deal with the cobblestones. 

 

Pinarello launches Dogma FS 'full suspended' road bike

 

The road is rising once more but it will dip down to the intermediate sprint, which is positioned at the foot of the next climb.

 

48km remaining from 163km

The next climb, by the way, is the biggest and most important today. While the others are third-category, this is first-category. The peloton will thin out and, with a long descent to follow to the foot of the final climb, any dropped riders will find it difficult to get back in. Schachmann has been brilliant so far but isn't a pure climber, and perhaps some of his rivals will try to put him on the back foot here. 

 

47km remaining from 163km

The gap to the seven leaders dips down below the two-minute mark now. 

 

43km remaining from 163km

Verona is first over the line at the intermediate sprint ahead of Monfort and Storer. That's three points plus a bonus of three seconds.

 

41km remaining from 163km

And now the first-category climb begins. It's 4.9km long with an average gradient of 8.6% and maximum ramps of 13%. 

 

Here it is 

 

 

The breakaway riders start the climb with their lead reduced to 1:20.

 

It's all calm in the peloton as they take on the lower slops. Jumbo, Movistar, Astana all up there. 

 

And here comes the first attack. A Cofidis rider has taken off. 

 

It's Nicolas Edet for the French team. He looks over but no one else is jumping for now. 

 

Iturria loses contact with the break.

 

3km to the summit and Mitchelton-Scott hit the front of the bunch to set the pace.

 

It doesn't look like any GC contenders want to light it up on this climb. 

 

Carlos Betancur comes through to the front now. 

 

De Marchi is putting the rest of the break under pressure. Williams had a mechanical problem so there are five left out front now. 

 

Williams is caught by the bunch. 

 

Verona drags himself over to De Marchi. Storer is struggling a few bike lengths behind. 

 

Edet's attack comes to an end. 

 

38km remaining from 163km

Betancur pulls off and drops back down the bunch. Mitchelton back on the front. The gap to De Marchi and Verona is still 1:17. 

 

Verona pulls up alongside De Marchi, who looks over and asks why he's not coming through to help with the pace setting. After a brief dramatic stand-off, the Italian springs away once more. 

 

Adam Yates is second wheel now. Landa's up there, too. The pace has picked up back in the bunch. 

 

The gap drops to 45 seconds as we enter the final kilometre of the climb. 

 

Schachmann is hanging on but is slipping back as the pace is lifted by the stronger climbers. 

 

Up ahead Verona remains glued to De Marchi's wheel. 

 

De Marchi crests the climb in pole position, Verona right behind. 

 

Grmay and Monfort are caught. 

 

36km remaining from 163km

The peloton crest the climb now. It looks like Schachmann has made it safely over. 

 

A long descent to come. The roads are wet and the visibility is poor. We hope they all make it down safely. 

 

De Marchi pulls away from Verona on the descent. The lead is 45 seconds.

 

Enric Mas storms through to the front of the peloton, leading the way down the descent. 

 

Schachmann has moved up to third wheel, just behind Yates. 

 

Storer is caught, so that leaves just De Marchi and Verona ahead of the peloton. 

 

At the second intermediate sprint, as the descent levels out, De Marchi crosses first, followed by Verona. 

 

Back in the peloton, with one bonus second on offer for third place, Dani Martinez (EF) shows an interest but is pipped by a Bora rider doing a nice blocking job for Schachmann. 

 

25km remaining from 163km

Hugh Carthy (EF) goes on the attack now. He's joined by Michael Albasini (Mitchelton-Scott). 

 

It was Patrick Konrad who picked up the bonus second. He was third overall at 33 seconds but is now second overall, as it stands, at 32 seconds. 

 

22km remaining from 163km

Mitchelton-Scott raise the pace in the bunch. Albasini and Carthy are back in the fold, by the way. 

 

35 seconds is the gap to De Marchi and Verona. 

A reminder of the stage profile. We're on the approach to the final climb and things are starting to heat up. 

 

 

20km remaining from 163km

On the flatter roads the leading duo are losing ground. 25 seconds is the gap now. 

 

Still Mitchelton lead the way as the gap continues to fall slowly but surely. 

 

The rain has stopped but there's still a good deal of standing water, which is spraying up. 

15km remaining from 163km

Just 11 seconds now for the leading duo. 

 

Yates is 20th overall, at 1:41, having lost time due to a mechanical on stage 2. 

 

13km remaining from 163km

That's it. De Marchi and Verona are caught by the peloton. All together. 

 

Mitchelton continue their charge as we near the final climb. 

 

QuickStep move up and take over from Mitchelton. 

 

QuickStep have, of course, lost Alaphilippe, but they have Enric Mas still. 

 

Astana and FDJ are also moving up. 

 

9km remaining from 163km

The climb proper begins with just under 7km to go.

 

The road is already slightly uphill on a wide highway. Mitchelton are back on the front, with Katusha also up there. 

 

Astana hit the front. Lutsenko is up there for them. 

 

Astana hit the front. Lutsenko is up there for them. 

 

Lutsenko takes it up now. Astana have plenty of options. 

 

Ion Izaguirre is third overall. 

Crash! Lutsenko goes down at the front. So does Pello Bilbao

 

A few riders taken out their as they took a right hand bend. Lutsenko simply slipped out on the wet roads. So too did some behind him, separately, with two QuickStep riders also down. 

 

Serry is down for QuickStep but back on his feet. 

 

The race goes on and Mitchelton take it back up as the climb begins.

 

6km remaining from 163km

Here we go

 

 

Yates has taken off his rain cape and is sitting third wheel, bobbing out of the saddle. 

 

3km to the top and 5.2km to the finish. 

 

4km remaining from 163km

The road flattens out and even dips down now before tilting back uphill. 

 

Still Mitchelton take it up and now they really raise the pace as the gradients bite

 

Big shift in pace and one of the Mitchelton riders finds himself with a gap. He looks around before realising and knocking it back. 

 

3km remaining from 163km

Yates goes now

 

Schachmann tries to follow. Dan Martin on the leader's wheel. 

 

Astana have a rider on Martin's wheel. It's those four with a gap over the rest. 

 

It's Fuglsang for Astana. 

 

3km remaining from 163km

Yates stays on the front, but not Martin comes around. 

 

Yates closes the gap as they come over the top. 

 

2km remaining from 163km

2.6km to go now and it's pretty much all downhill.

 

Yates, Martin, Schachmann, and Fuglsang have a lead of around 10 seconds. 

It's another sweeping descent. Wide roads but wet surface. 

 

1km remaining from 163km

1500m to go and they take a tight right-hander. 

 

Fuglsang dropped through that corner. 

 

1km remaining from 163km

Fuglsang claws his way back on, taking an inside line through a bend. Final km. 

 

The quartet have a handy gap and are set to contest this one. 

 

Martin accelerates again, and Schachmann shuts it down. 

 

Into the final straight, Martin leads it out. 

 

But here comes Schachmann...

 

Martin's fighting but Schachmann takes it!

 

Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) wins stage 4 of the Tour of the Basque Country

 

Schachmann has now won three of the four stages. He was 6th on the other one. Extraordinary. 

 

Correction. The UAE rider was in fact Tadej Pogacar, and not Dan Martin, as was announced. 

 

Top 10

 

1 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 4:03:55
2 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:01
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
5 Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb 0:00:09
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team
9 Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10 Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal

 

General classification after stage 4


1 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 12:38:16
2 Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:51
3 Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
4 Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First 0:01:07
5 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:08
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:10
7 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:01:24
8 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:30
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:35
10 Sergio Henao (Col) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:41

 

Schachmann, then, extends his overall lead to 51 seconds. In second place is now his teammate Patrick Konrad, who took a bonus second at the intermediate sprint. Fulgsang moves from 11th to 7th. 

 

Here's our report page

 

Tour of the Basque Country: Schachmann wins another on stage 4

 

 

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