Top ten for Mezgec on stage four of the Eneco TourThu 22 Sep 2016
Slovenian lead out specialist Luka Mezgec sprinted to tenth place for ORICA-BikeExchange on stage four of the Eneco Tour after another chaotic and crash-laden finale.
2016 Tour de France stage winner Michael Matthews crashed at speed with less than two kilometres remaining as the chasing bunch swept up the late breakaway.
Around ten riders went down alongside Matthews who fortunately did not suffer serious injury and was able to complete the stage.
A long and aggressive day saw the race come alive in a final 50kilometres filled with attacks, crashes and near misses before Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) won the stage and moved into the overall lead with three more race days to come.
Mezgec was in position with Matthews until the crash with the Slovenian managing to avoid the incident before jumping from wheel to wheel to finish in tenth place.
Sport director Laurenzo Lapage lamented the missed opportunity due to the late crash but praised the performance of the team.
“We knew it was going to be a fast and aggressive stage,” said Lapage. “It started quickly and the pace didn’t really let up for a moment. The guys did very well to maintain position when the race really came apart in the final third.”
“After the crashes of Caleb Ewan early on and then Michael (Matthews) in the finale, Luka (Mezgec) had to go it alone and he did a great job to finish in the top ten.
“Caleb went down on the first cobble section of the day and despite a bit of road rash he was ok to continue. Both Caleb and Michael were lucky as both of the crashes could have been a lot worse.
“We headed into the finale with Michael in a good position behind Luka and it is a shame that we didn’t get the chance to see how they would compete. The crash happened so quickly that it was all over before it had even begun.”
How it happened:
The 202kilometre stage four began under some delightful late summer sunshine with attacks springing directly from the flag drop.
A group of four riders began to develop a lead after half an hour of racing that moved out past three minutes by the 50kilometre mark.
The escapees reached a maximum of four minutes by the halfway point in the stage before the eager peloton started to reduce the advantage.
A fairly innocuous crash saw Ewan get tangled and go down on one of the first cobbled sections of the stage, dusting himself off and remounting, Ewan escaped serious injury and rejoined the bunch.
The race came back together for the first time with 65kilometres to go before fresh attacks started to spring as the race came to life.
Matthews and Chris Juul-Jensen were both part of different attacks that didn’t quite break clear before Astana duo Dimitry Gruzdev and Andriy Grivko slipped away with 40kilometres to go.
Two became three as Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) bridged across from the splitting peloton with the trio now holding a slender ten second advantage.
The battle was on heading into the last ten kilometres as the Stuyven trio fought to hold off the chasing bunch.
Stuyven tried to push on alone with three kilometres to go and held on for another thousand metres before the speeding bunch caught then passed him.
Matthews crashed quite heavily amidst the chaos of the finale, leaving Mezgec to contest the sprint with the Slovenian taking tenth place behind stage winner Sagan.
Tomorrow’s fifth stage is the team time trial, covering 20.9kilometres in the Dutch municipality of Sittard-Geleen.
Eneco Tour stage four results:
1. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 04:42:12
2. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) ST
3. Alexander Kristoff (Katisha) ST
10. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-BikeExchange) ST
General classification after stage four:
1. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 13:17:29
2. Rohan Dennis (BMC) 00:00:07
3. Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) 00:00:12
26. Michael Matthews (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:31