Keukeleire sprints to seventh on stage four of the Criterium du DauphineThu 9 Jun 2016
Belgian classics specialist Jens Keukeleire finished in seventh place on stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine today after excellent work by ORICA-GreenEDGE teammate Daryl Impey.
For the second day in succession the peloton followed a breakaway trio for most of the day before finally making the catch with only five kilometres to go.
Keukeleire was dropped off for the sprint inside the final few hundred metres by Impey after ORICA-GreenEDGE had played a key role in bringing the field back together.
Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension-Data) won the fast sprint over a technical finish with Keukeleire crossing the line in seventh place.
Adam Yates remains in seventh on the general classification with three hard days in the mountains to come.
Sport director Laurenzo Lapage praised the work ethic of the team after yet another top ten finish at the 2016 Criterium du Dauphine.
“We had decided before the stage that Jens (Keukeleire) was going to get the chance in the sprint today,” said Lapage. “The guys all did their job perfectly with Daryl (Impey) and Simon Gerrans the last guys with Jens before the sprint."
“I am really happy with how the race is going, we don’t have a pure sprinter here and yet we are consistently finishing in the top ten.
“The next three days is where the real race for the overall begins,” continued Lapage. “The favourites are all racing quite nervously, trying to gain a few seconds where they can and finish up near the front each day.
“We are very fortunate with Adam (Yates), he is very relaxed, taking each day as it comes and we will see tomorrow how things are going to go in the mountains, but certainly we are happy with where we are.”
How it happened:
A fairly pedestrian start to stage four saw a trio of riders slip away within the first ten kilometres of racing. The group included Maxime Bouet (Etixx-Quickstep) and after half an hour the three riders had a developing lead of over three minutes.
Despite a strong headwind the advantage of the escapees drifted out to around six minutes over the first 40kilometres as the peloton settled into a steady rhythm.
With 100kilometres left to race Cofidis had moved up to the front of the peloton and started to inject some pace into the proceedings. The trio out front still had over four minutes but the work of the French team was beginning to have an effect.
The average speed of the race was hampered somewhat by the continual block headwind with only 80kilometres covered after nearly three hours of racing.
The rain started to fall heavily around the halfway point with breakaway trio still four minutes ahead of the peloton.
Approaching the final 50kilometres, the peloton or possibly the wind had almost halved the lead of the three escapees with the gap standing at two minutes as the field reached the first passage of the finishing circuits in Belley.
Lotto-Soudal had moved up to the front of the peloton trading turns with Katusha and Cofidis as the breakaway's advantage continued to fall.
Bouet attacked solo from the breakaway with 15kilometres to go and immediately developed a slight lead. The peloton were 40seconds behind the Etixx-Quickstep rider going into the last ten kilometres.
ORICA-GreenEDGE took up position at the front of the chasing bunch with Christian Meier leading the formation.
Frenchman Bouet was caught inside the final four kilometres as the field shaped up for the sprint.
Impey led the bunch into the last 1500metres with Keukeleire on his wheel. A frantic sprint ensued with Keukeleire forced wide from his line and eventually finishing in seventh place behind stage winner Boasson-Hagen.
Tomorrow's stage five is the first serious mountain stage of this year’s race and covers 140kilometres from La Ravoire to Vaujany. The route includes six categorised climbs before a brutally steep summit finish in Vaujany.
Criterium du Dauphine stage four results:
1. Edvald Boasson-Hagen (Dimension-Data) 04:39:26
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep) ST
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) ST
7. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-GreenEDGE) ST
General classification after stage four:
1. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) 17:52:45
2. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:00:04
3. Richie Porte (BMC) 00:00:06
7. Adam Yates (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:31