Tour Down Under (st. 4)
Spaniard Movistar Team bounces back after misfortune on Thursday, contests wide-open sprint after Corkscrew Road climb – which Jasha reached in the lead of the race.
Following an ominuous series of events on Thursday, with two crashes taking him well out of contention for the overall classification of the 2019 Tour Down Under, Rubén Fernández (Movistar Team) mostly recovered his best face at the first big duel between the race favourites on Friday. The Corkscrew Road hill (2.5km at 9%), a huge challenge for the favourites just six kilometers away from Campbelltown’s finish (stage four, 129km), was a scene for some fireworks before Daryl Impey (MTS) stormed to victory ahead of race leader Patrick Bevin (CPT).
Rubén took a very nice 5th place into an unusually big field’s sprint (20 riders), formed as Richie Porte (TFS), Michael Woods (EF1), George Bennett (TJV) and Wout Poels (SKY) were caught following a serious attack with 800m from the top of the ascent.
At the foot of Corkscrew Road, and after a day with some intermittent drops and quite cooler than the eve -a maximm 26ºC-, a six-man early breakaway was still alive, notably featuring Jasha Sütterlin. The German escaped from the bang, ammaassin a 5’30” gap and even daring to cover the first half of the climb inside a selection of the group with Pernsteiner (TBM) and Scotson (GFC), later neutralized following a 120km effort in the lead.
As Rubén was ruled out for the ochre on Thursday, Lluís Mas and Eduard Prades -coming into a second group, barely half a minute behind the leaders- are now the top Blues overall in the Tour Down Under. The penultimate stage on Saturday will be the final chance for the sprinters at Strathalbyn (149km), before the traditional, dual ascent to Willunga Hill scheduled – as a showdown – for Australia Day in 48 hours’ time.