Chaos drives the field into final circuit in Sint Pieters-Leeuw (stage four), with crashes, attacks -featuring Oliveira and Erviti- and a tortuous sprint, where Sagan (TNK) took both the win and the GC leadership. Jasha Sütterlin sits in 5th before Friday's TTT
Even some riders, like Alex Dowsett, expressed themselves worried about the Eneco Tour not finding a chaotic day like Thursday’s racing -199km between Aalter and Sint Pieters-Leeuw- until stage four of seven in the race. Climbs, cobblestones, dangerous gutters, interminable lines of struggling riders at the back of the field following every single turn; an early break caught with more than 60km from the finish; duo attacks by big stars, such as Tom Dumoulin (TGA) and Tony Martin (EQS); a lead group -with two AST riders in Dmitriy Gruzdev and Andriy Grivko- not chased down until the last 3km, motorbikes crashing just after a roundabout, or a pile-up with 2km from the finish -both without Movistar Team riders involved-. ‘Who would like to miss it!’, some riders would ironically think at the finish.
The crash, which did not prevent Peter Sagan (TNK) from taking a milimeter sprint win against Andre Greipel (LTS) despite happening just next to him, caused the race jury neutralising times into the peloton, with seven Movistar Team members within the 110-strong field coming together. Initially signalled as 4th overall in the quick results, Jasha Sütterlin eventually sits 5th in the GC -21” off Sagan’s pace- as all Dowsett (12th), Ion Izagirre (14th) and Oliveira (20th; on the attack today, as did Imanol Erviti) conserve less than half a minute’s gap on the Slovak. The squad directed by Chente and Jaimerena will be the fourth-to-last off the ramp (3.58pm local) on Friday at the trascendental TTT in and around Sittard-Geleen, 20km that could decide many things in the overall classification.
Coppa Sabatini: Unfair reward after serious work
It wasn’t to be this time for Giovanni Visconti, who missed the legs he found in the previous two days to contest the victory in the Coppa Sabatini, held on Thursday over 195km and a closing circuit with an uphill finish in Peccioli, Tuscany. Despite consistent work from the likes of Betancur, Amador and Carapaz, in pursuit of the day’s early, two-man move by Ballerini (ITA) and Ferrari (CJR), the Italian had to stay content with 17th as in-form Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) took a convincing success. The group managed by José Luis Laguía will almost invariably remain together in Italy -with only Malori and Carapaz resting up and leaving room for Lobato and Dani Moreno- for another two prestigious races: the Giro dell’Emilia (Saturday) and the GP Beghelli (Sunday).