Team LottoNL-Jumbo’s Italian Enrico Battaglin sprinted to 10th place in the Tour Down Under’s fourth stage today. Caleb Ewan (Orica), just like in the first and third stages, won the kick in Campbelltown, Australia. Richie Porte (BMC) remains the leader with LottoNL-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink in 11th at 29 seconds.
Battaglin left behind a stage that had seemed perfect for him.
"I tried to sprint for the victory today,” Battaglin said. “I am happy to get a top-10 place in my first sprint of the season, but I know we can do even better. This stage finished slightly uphill and that's exactly where I’m good, so I want to show myself today."
The stage ran 149.5 kilometres from Norwood in pleasant weather, which came as a relief after the first scorching days in South Australia. Three riders escaped and took a maximum lead of three minutes. BMC controlled the peloton and in the final, the sprinters teams joined the chase to close on the final escapee at three kilometres out.
"The last kilometres went quickly, the peloton had to do everything to catch the last rider from the breakaway,” added Battaglin. “After three stages and a day in which the road just went up and down, you could feel it in your legs.”
Battaglin had help from his team-mates, who joined the pursuit. However, the finish allowed the pure sprinters to prevail. Ewan won ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora) and Danny van Poppel (Sky). Enrico Battaglin finished just behind the sprinters.
Ideal finish for Battaglin
The stage appeared to be an ideal finish for Battaglin on paper, but the men who typically prevail on flat and fast days came through.
"The plan is well executed,” Sports Director Addy Engels said. “We designated Enrico in this stage. The final was perfect for him. It was also important at this stage that Wagner stayed with Gesink and guided him through the race. That went very well and Gesink lost no time.
"Tomorrow is the big day on Willunga Hill and Gesink still feels really good. I'm wondering how far he will go."
The fifth stage starts in McLaren Vaile and uphill finishes. With the criterium on Sunday in Adelaide, tomorrow is the last big chance for the classification cyclists to attack Porte’s position.