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Former Tour de France winner makes it into decisive 9-rider group and plays it smart in the finale to beat Geschke and Slagter in the final sprint

Photo: Sirotti








08.09.2013 @ 00:53 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Cadel Evans (BMC) proved his return to form following a disappointing Tour de France by winning the fourth stage of the Tour of Alberta. The former Tour de France winner showed plenty of experience when the win was to be decided form a 5-rider group, forcing Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) to close down a late attack from Ben Day (UnitedHealthCare) before beating his German rival in the final sprint.


Cadel Evans had a disappointing Tour de France and left the French grand tour completely exhausted. A month of rest has allowed to get back into racing condition but he didn't have too big expectations for this week's Tour of Alberta.


However, Evans has recovered from his fatigue much faster than expected. Having already finished an encouraging 4th in the prologue, the BMC captain showed his class by winning today's fourth stage of the inaugural edition of the Canadian stage race.


Evans kept his calm in a hectic opening phase of the race and made it into the 9-rider group that slipped clear. With yesterday's stage opening up massive time gaps, none of the escapees were any threat to the overall lead of Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) and so the 9 riders were allowed to decide the stage winner.


The break split in two on the day's final climb and so only 5 riders were left when they entered the final 3km of the stage. A game of cat-and-mouse ensued and Evans showed plenty of experience in the nervy race finale.


His compatriot Ben Day launched an attack 2km from the finish line and his fellow escapees started to look each other. Simon Geschke who was the fastest rider in the group, was forced to start chasing with a little occasional help from Tom-Jelte Slagter (Belkin).


Evans kept his calm and was safely positioned in Geschke's wheel when the German finally closed the gap with less than 400m to go. A few moments later Evans powered down the middle of the road and benefited from Geschke's fatigue to beat his German rival.


Race leader Rohan Dennis enjoyed an easy day in the saddle and rolled safely across the line with the main peloton to safely defend his 18-second lead over Brent Bookwalter (BMC). He takes that lead into tomorrow's 5th and final stage which is expected to end in a bunch sprint.


A hilly stage

The 169,6km stage was the hilliest of the race. A flat start led the peloton to a hilly zone at the midpoint with two categorized climbs but the final 40km were mostly flat.


As it has been the case on stages of the Tour of Alberta, the race was off to an extremely fast start. Numerous sizeable groups went up the road and the Garmin-Sharp team had a difficult task making sure that no dangerous riders went up the road. The American squad closed down 3 larger groups before a suitable break finally went clear.


Evans in the break

Cadel Evans (BMC), Nic Hamilton (Jelly Belly), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Belkin), Ben Day (Unitedhealthcare), Simon Geschke (Argos), Antoine Duchesne (Canadian national team), Ryan Roth (Champion System), Scott Zwizanski (Optum) and Clay Murfet (Smartstop) formed an 8-rider group and as Evans was best-placed on GC, more than 17 minutes behind Dennis, the escape was allowed to build up a big gap. Garmin were content to just set a gentle pace and the advantage reached more than 11 minutes.


Like Garmin, the BMC team of 2nd placed Brent Bookwalter had also no intentions of letting their GC possibilities slip away. With 105km to go, they joined forces with Garmin on the front of the peloton and the two teams kept the gap stable at around the 10-minute mark for the remainder of the stage, thus allowing the escapees to decide the stage winner


Slagter hunts KOM points

Slagter had led the KOM competition until yesterday when his teammate Robert Gesink took over the lead. Today the Dutchman was intent on making sure that the jersey stayed in the Belkin team and he made a small attack on the first climb to crest the summit in first position before falling back to his fellow escapees.


On the day's second climb with 50km to go, Geschke launched an attack. Slagter was glued to his wheel but the duo dropped their companions. Slagter moved ahead just before the top to pick up maximum points and take back the mountains jersey while Evans, Duchesne, Roth and Day were chasing a little further behind.


The front duo opens a gap

Zwizanski, Murfet and Hamilton got back on and those 7 riders combined forces as they tried to chase down the lead duo. However, the gap kept growing and at one point reached 30 seconds.


Evans, Day and Duchesne upped the pace on a small hill and those three riders started getting closer to Geschke and Belkin. The front duo decided to wait for their chasers and the two groups merged to form a 5-rider breakaway.


A fierce pursuit

From then on, the stage evolved into a pursuit between the front group and their 4 chasers. Both groups worked perfectly together but the leaders gradually opened up a gap that reached 1.30 when they entered the final 10km.


Surprisingly, it took some time for the tactical battle to start and the 5 riders passed the 5km to go mark before they started to look at each other. However, no one dared to launch the first attack until Day finally made his move with 2km to go. At one point, it appeared as though he might go on to win the stage but Geschke reeled him in and instead it was another veteran Australian that took his first victory of the season.




1. Cadel Evans 3.51.18

2. Simon Geschke

3. Tom-Jelte Slagter

4. Ben Day

5. Antoine Duchesne

6. Scott Zwizanski +1,48

7. Nic Hamilton

8. Clay Murfet

9. Ryan Roth

10. Luke Keough +9.43


General classification:

1. Rohan Dennis 15.06.21

2. Brent Bookwalter +0.18

3. Damiano Caruso +0.30

4. Patrick Gretsch +0.32

5. Robert Gesink +0.38

6. Robert Sweeting +0.54

7. Ryan Anderson +0.56

8. Francisco Mancebo +0.58

9. Matthias Friedemann +1.11

10. Steven Kruijswijk +1.21



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