Smith ninth as the GC takes shape at BinckBank TourThu 15 Aug 2019
Yesterday’s top Mitchelton-SCOTT finisher Dion Smith has put in another strong ride to take ninth place on the fourth stage, a day that will play a significant role in the final general classification at the BinckBank Tour.
Smith finished in the third small chase group, 33seconds behind Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) who claimed the stage in another photo finish.
The lumpy and short 96km fourth stage was always going to be unsettled, particularly due to its potential influence on final general classification resultd at the end of the week.
An initial group of two rode out to two minutes, before a big effort from Jumbo-Visma bought them close enough for a counter move that saw a new, and very threatening, group of nine in the lead as the rain poured down.
After an initial period of hesitation, a second chase group, including Smith for Mitchelton-SCOTT was able to reel them in with 35km remaining.
Steep slopes make the difference:
The steep slopes of the climbs were making the difference at the front and the back, and a riders continued to drop off the pace behind, the strongest came to the fore.
It was Wellens, Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma) and Marc Hirchi (Team Sunweb) that made the winning move at the front, and despite being briefly joined by Ivan Cortina (Bahrain-Merida), they contest for the victory.
Behind, there were a couple of efforts to close the gap, but they came to very little as everyone else battled for top-10 placings, Smith good enough for ninth.
“Today was always shaped up to be a GC day. The plan was to get as far into the stage as possible with as many guys as we could, and put ourselves in the position to be present at the front and see what we could do. With the nature of the course it was hard to have a specific plan.
“I wasn’t sure where I was in terms of my shape, I knew I was fit but being so punchy all day it was hard to know exactly. But it turns out everyone else was the same, if not worse than me, apart from the front guys who were just too strong.
“I did what I could in the second group but there were a few guys with a couple of teammates so I tried hiding a bit and following where I could.
“I am happy I could sneak into the top 10, it’s always nice.”
BinckBankTour – Stage 4 Results:
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 2:20:41
2. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) ST
3. Laurens de Plus (Jumbo-Visma) +0:05
9. Dion Smith (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:33
BinckBankTour – General Classification after Stage 4:
1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 13:32:46
2. Marc Hirchi (Team Sunweb) +0:04
3. Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma) +0:14
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.