Second place for Van Vleuten and fourth for Elvin on a split stage at Energiewacht TourSat 9 Apr 2016
Stage four of the Energiewacht Tour was split into two stages, a short road race in the morning followed by an individual time trial later in the afternoon. ORICA-AIS had solid rides to finish in the top five on both stages.
During the morning's road stage former Australian champion Gracie Elvin had a strong sprint to finish in fourth place in the bunch kick. In the afternoon's time trial event ORICA-AIS dominated after impressive rides from Annemiek Van Vleuten, Tayler Wiles and Katrin Garfoot, holding the top three podium spots right until the final moment.
Van Vleuten finished the race against the clock in second place beaten only by Ellen Van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans). Sport director Gene Bates applauded the team's performances throughout the day.
"The road stage was crazy," explained Bates. "There was a bit of everything, such a fast race with lots of aggression."
"There was a crash at the start and unfortunately Katrin came down in that, lost a bit of skin but she was able to get up and continue the stage.
"Loren Rowney rode fantastically, we wanted to try and get her into a breakaway, to stay away to the finish. There were numerous moves and she was in everyone of those which was really great. It didn't quite come off but luckily we still had Gracie there for the sprint and she was able to place fourth. It was a really technical finish so a great sprint for her."
The second stage of the day was a 13.6kilometre individual time trial, a stage that half of the ORICA-AIS team were specifically targeting with high ambitions and successfully were able to produce the goods.
"This afternoon was fantastic by all three girls and also Gracie had a really good ride," Bates continued. "We are absolutely wrapped. It would be nice to get the win, we are so close and I'm not sure what we have to do to get it now."
"They all performed really well, Annemiek especially to get that close to the win and then Katrin after her crash this morning, it was great to see her still be able to produce a great ride. Tayler's performance is a really good boost of confidence for her aswell.
Van Vleuten now jumps up to second spot in the general classification, however the team's focus is on finally getting that stage victory rather than taking over the classification.
"We came into the race with no intention of targeting the overall, we are focusing on stage wins, so we will keep the same approach and really try to win tomorrow's stage," Bates explained. "If we can move up a general classification spot while doing that then that would be great."
How it happened: Stage 4a Road race
The fourth day of the Energiewacht Tour brought a double stage for the riders to tackle. Welcomed once again with blue skies and the absence of strong winds to set the tone for the big day of racing ahead.
The morning stage was a 75.4km road race and with it being such a short stage, the peloton set off at a furious pace. In the first 20kilometres of the race a big crash occurred and subsequently the race was neutralised until everyone was back on their bikes including the yellow jersey wearer.
Immediately after teams headed to the front of the bunch and continued to set a rapid speed in an aim to keep the bunch strung out to avoid further problems. The bunch split into two and re-grouped numerous times in a yo-yo effect, then as the race entered the final 25kilometres the peloton was in one line navigating through narrow, twisty roads at a lung busting pace.
Rowney tried her chances riding clear with three other riders, however it didn't last long as the charging peloton swallowed them up instantly letting nobody get away.
Within the final five kilometres of the race one rider tried a final attempt to ride away but the race came down to a fast bunch sprint finish. ORICA-AIS rider Elvin was the highest placed finisher in fourth place with Kirsten Wild (Hitec-Products) taking the stage win.
Stage 4b Individual time trial
After a short rest the riders headed to Leek to swap their road bikes for aero time trial bikes and began warming up for the second stage of the day a 13.6kilometre time trial.
As riders finished one by one, the fastest time continued to be beaten. Mid-way through the race Australian time trial champion Garfoot set off around the flat course to set a new fastest time of 18minutes 48seconds after an incredible ride. As Garfoot waited in the hot seat with 50 riders still to start, other top time trial riders such as world champion Linda Villumsen (United Health Care) failed to beat the Australian's time.
American time trial specialist Wiles stormed around the course next to be the first rider to knock Garfoot of the top step, posting a time of 18minutes 41seconds just two seconds faster than her ORICA-AIS teammate.
Soon after former Dutch time trial champion rode out of her skin finishing 35seconds faster. With less than ten riders to come ORICA-AIS filled all three podium hot seats.
It was former time trial world champion Van Dijk who spoiled the ORICA-AIS party by posting a time of 17:44 to take the race honours, Lisa Brennauer claimed third spot to knock Wiles off the podium.
Van Vleuten finishes in an impressive second place and moves up on the general classification going into the final stage tomorrow.
Energiewacht Tour stage 4 results:
Stage 4a road race:
1. Kirsten Wild (Hitec-Products) 1:54:31
2. Chantal Blaak (Boels-Dolmans) ST
3. Barbra Guarischi (Canyon-SRAM) ST
4. Gracie Elvin (ORICA-AIS) ST
Stage 4b Individual time trial:
1. Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) 17:44
2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) 18:06
3. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-Sram) 18:32
General classification after stages 4a and 4b:
1. Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) 8:44:20
2. Annemiek Van Vleuten (ORICA-AIS) +0:37
3. Lisa Brennauer (Canyon-Sram) +0:52