As expected today's queen stage of the Ster ZLM Toer was a bit too tough for Marcel Kittel who dropped back and lost his leader's jersey. Instead, his teammate Albert Timmer continued his recent excellent showing by being close to the best in the finale.
Roy Curvers and Albert Timmer have finished 10th and 12th respectively after a tough penultimate stage at the Ster ZLM Toer which saw the race break up for the first time.
The fourth stage of the race saw a succession of tough climbs break the peloton into small groups, with a solo stage winner finishing ahead of a select group of 14 riders containing the two Team Giant-Shimano men.
Marcel Kittel dropped back, eventually finishing just over three minutes down on stage winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), and conceding the overall race lead to Gilbert at the same time.
The day’s breakaway was formed of seven riders but their lead never amounted to much more than three minutes. It yoyo’ed between one and two minutes but eventually the leaders split and their day was over in the final 30km.
On the final climb of the day the peloton exploded and Curvers and Rimmer were left at the front for Team Giant-Shimano. Gilbert proved too strong for the rest, attacking and pulling clear at the finish to take the stage and assume the overall lead.
Timmer tried his luck to bridge across but could not make the junction and did well to hold on to the chasing group when they caught back up with him.
After the finish, Timmer gave his verdict on the stage, saying: “Today was not an easy day but I am pretty satisfied with the result in the end. The racing really started on the climbs in the second half of the stage and it was full on from here.
“I had a perfect lead-out from the team into the final climb and from here I did what I could to hold on. Roy was looking really strong and made the front group with me over the top. When Gilbert went he was too strong though – I was at one moment between him and the group but I exploded and did what I could after that just to hold on.
“Tomorrow should be another good sprint opportunity and everyone is really motivated for this. We know the stage from the past two years and will look to finish the race with a good result.”
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