Briton Simon Yates crept up one place on the general classification on today’s penultimate stage of the Santos Tour Down Under to second spot, while teammate Michael Matthews retained his lead in the points classification.
The 133.2km stage from Port Willunga to Willunga Township wasn’t a typical day suited to Yates, however Team Jayco AlUla made the most of it, maximising their opportunities by assisting the multiple Grand Tour stage winner Yates in the intermediate sprint to take a valuable bonus second.
After starting the day in third place overall at 16 seconds, the Team AlUla Jayco rider moved up to second place, now on equal time as Pello Bilbao ahead of an all-decisive stage around Mount Lofty tomorrow.
Earlier in the stage, Matthews successfully sprinted to third place in the first intermediate sprint, sweeping up more points behind two escapees, which helped the Tour de France stage winner increase his lead in the points classification.
The Australian outfit worked to split the race in crosswinds and kept the pressure on during the race to avoid dropped sprinters returning to the front group, in order to set up Matthews for the stage win.
On the uphill sprint finish, which on paper suits the 32-year-old, Matthews sat in position but found the line too far and had to settle for sixth place. Not the result he had hoped for but the stage placing still ensured that the Australian extended his lead further in the points classification, where he now sits 11 points ahead of Caleb Ewan.
“I had really high hopes for the stage win today, unfortunately the legs weren’t there, but we still believed in the opportunity to go for the stage win and the team set it up for me. We continued to drive it all day to keep the race hard and split it but I just didn’t have the legs in the finish to finish it off.
Today we optimised the intermediate sprints with Yates taking one second, so that was a big positive for us and now he is up to second overall. We are still in the game, we aren’t going to give up until the finish line tomorrow afternoon. It has been a rollercoaster week for us, but Yates has stayed strong and kept himself in position to win this tour, and obviously that is our goal. We aren’t here for second place we are here to win, and we have the best riders around us and have won this race multiple times before as a team, so hopefully we can all get around Yates tomorrow and get him on to the top step.”
Santos Tour Down Under stage 4 results:
1. Brian Coquard 2:53:41
6. Michael Matthews ST
General classification after stage 4:
1. Jay Vine 13:26:31
2. Simon Yates +0:15
3. Pello Bilbao +0:15
Points classification after stage 4:
1. Michael Matthews 58
2. Caleb Ewan 47