Circuit Sarthe Stage Four Finish Laps Prove Decisive

Fri 5 Apr 2013

Luke Durbridge started stage four of Circuit Cycliste Sarthe in the yellow race leader’s jersey. Despite their best efforts to control the difficult day of racing, ORICA-GreenEDGE could not keep the race together on the lumpy finishing circuit. Pierre Rolland (Europcar) took a solo victory in Pré-en-Pail to move into the race lead.

Following the stage three time trial, only 7" separated the top-ten and Durbridge was 1’30 ahead of the lantern rouge. By the end of stage four, Rolland had 10” over Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) in second and nearly 29’24” over Danilo Napolitano (Accent Jobs-Wanty) in last place.

“It was a hard day, and we did what we could,” said Sport Director Lionel Marie “The race took a fast start. Heppy [Michael Hepburn] covered all the different early attempts. He was in a small group at ten kilometres, but the peloton didn’t want to let that group stay away.”

Eventually three riders slipped away from the bunch. Marco Coledan (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox), Cyril Bessy (Cofidis, Solution Credits) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Sojasun) gained a maximum advantage of 5’ during the second hour of racing. ORICA-GreenEDGE controlled the chase with RadioShack-Nissan-Trek sending men to the front as the race hit the finish circuit where the riders faced a technical finale in the snow.

“There were a lot of attacks when we started the circuit,” said Marie. “We had to do five laps, and there was a climb on every lap. This isn’t our specialty, especially after the effort we made in the time trial yesterday. We weren’t able to cover every move and eventually lost control of the front of the field.”

During the second of five circuit laps, a chase group of three joined the three leaders. Rolland was one of two riders to bridge across the group of six on the third lap. The Frenchman attacked the lead group and remained out front, alone, for the remainder of the race. Behind, various groups of riders came together to give chase. Cameron Meyer managed to finish just behind the first main chase group.

“Cam finished behind the first chase group, so in the end our results were nothing special today,” said Marie. “It’s easy to feel disappointed because we had wanted a certain outcome, but I’m proud of the work they did.”

“Svein [Tuft] had an especially strong ride,” added Marie. “As the captain on the road, he organized the tempo and gave instructions to the others. It’s his first race back after he fell ill in Tirreno-Adriatico. He fell behind after three laps and rode his own race to the finish.”

Meyer is now the best placed ORICA-GreenEDGE rider in 24th place at 1’05”. Defending champion Luke Durbridge has retired from the race following stage four.

“Luke has been called up to race Paris-Roubaix,” explained Marie. “He was a reserve rider and will replace one of our original riders who has fallen ill this week. It’s Luke’s Paris-Roubaix debut. Because the race is one of the hardest and most demanding races on our calendar, he’ll benefit from the extra day of recovery.”

Editor’s note: We’ll announce our Paris-Roubaix line-up in our race preview to be released around 10PM CET / 7AM AEST