Stannard unlucky again on stage four of the Tour de l’Avenir

Mon 21 Aug 2017

18-year-old Australian Robert Stannard again suffered some misfortune in the closing kilometres of stage four of the Tour de l’Avenir today as the Mitchelton-SCOTT rider was caught up in a late crash as he gave chase behind the late attack.

The fourth relatively flat stage in succession was characterised by an early breakaway going clear in the first of hour of racing before being finally caught some 100kilometres later as the field prepared for action over the technical finishing circuits.

Stannard, a strong all rounder, tried his luck inside the last five kilometres and succeeded in creating a small gap before being chased down by Christopher Lawless (Great-Britain).

Lawless went clear as Stannard was caught by a chasing bunch before being cruelly taken down in another late crash that put paid to his chances of contesting the final.

The stage was won by Lawless who managed to hold off the chasers, Lucas Hamilton and Jai Hindley again finished among the favourites and stay within the four-second gap on the general classification behind race leader Kapser Asgreen (Denmark).

“We wanted to go for Rob again today,” said sport director James Victor. “It’s one of the last technical finishes of the flatter stages and we knew that the slight uphill would suit him. He did really well initially and timed his attack almost to perfection and it was a shame it ended the way it did.”

“Rob is in really great shape, despite hitting the deck a couple of times and we could see today that the rest of the field were wary of him and it’s pleasing to see him pick himself back up and still try to compete for the result.

“Jai, Lucas and Michael Storer are all within four-seconds of the race leader and we are super focused on not losing any ground ahead of the mountain stages at the weekend. The team has been doing a fantastic job so far and we’ve got two more flat stages to come before the rest day.

“This is probably the strongest field I’ve ever seen at this race and I think that’s reflected in the sheer speed of the racing, there’s a lot of competition, but we will be looking for those opportunities over the next couple of days and see if we can get a good stage result under our belts before the Alps.”

How it happened:

A breakaway quartet formed within the first of hour of racing on stage four as the field yet again set a high pace over the rolling roads towards Saumur.

A technical pair of finishing circuits lay ahead that included a sharp climb before the finish as the four leaders stretched their lead out to five minutes with 90kilometres left to race.

The peloton started to steadily reduce the gap to the leaders over the final 50kilometres and brought the group within reach on the last 15kilometre lap around Saumur.

However the catch proved to be more difficult than anticipated as fresh attacks gave the race more impetus over the last ten kilometres before the bunch caught on.

Stannard instigated a late attack and gained a lead through the tunnel going into the last couple of kilometres and was followed by Lawless who subsequently kicked again.

The chasing group caught onto Stannard just as another rider lost control and for the second time in three stages the 18-year-old was taken down amidst the chaos.

Lawless held on for a narrow solo victory as the bunch closed in through the home straight with Hindley in 13th place for Australia.

Tour de l’Avenir stage four results:

1. Christopher Lawless (Great-Britain) 03:43:27

2. Imerio Cima (Italy) 00:00:02

3. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway) ST

13. Jai Hindley (Australia) ST

General classification after stage four:

1. Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) 12:48:56

2. Christopher Lawless (Great Britain) 00:00:02

3. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway) 00:00:04

16. Jai Hindley (Australia) ST