Edward Theuns has won stage 4 of the BinckBank Tour in Lanaken. The Belgian for Trek-Segafredo won the stage ahead of Marko Kump of UAE Team Emirates and Tim Merlier of Verandas Willems-Crelan. The stage was notable from a Kiwi perspective because of a late attack from Dion Smith.
Lanaken played host to stage 4 of the BinckBank Tour, with the riders taking on a bit more of a circuit race this time around, with 160.7km to cover in total. The race looped its way around the area with a route that rolled its way towards the final finish line; a line that the field would have already crossed once or twice before the close of play.
Andre Greipel opts for breakaway
It was a surprise to many to see none other than Lotto Soudal’s Andre Greipel instigating the attack of the day that went clear after some 40km of racing. The German has been struggling for form in the sprints, and speaking to Het Nieuwsblad he said “I’ve completely lost my instinct on the bike.” Today then, he adopted a different approach, going off the front alongside Nils Politt of Katusha-Alpecin and Pim Lithgart of Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij.
Staying true to form over the last few stages, the peloton, led primarily by Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Sky, kept the break on a reasonably tight leash, and with 50km to go the gap was sitting at just 2 minutes. The golden kilometre would come with a little over 30km but the gap was coming down rapidly. With 32km to go the gap was sitting at just 24 seconds to the peloton who were motoring along, with Sam Bewley playing a significant role on the front for Orica-SCOTT.
After the breakaway just about managed to hold on to take the golden kilometre the break were finally caught with 26km left to race, but with a fair amount of racing to go it was still all to play for and not outside the realms of possibility to see another attack or two try to go clear. Ian Stannard for Team Sky was keeping the pace high though, deterring moves for the time being.
Dion Smith goes on attack with Dowsett
With 14.4km left to race BMC Racing had their troops of the front, looking after Stefan Küng, while Peter Sagan loomed large towards the front, along with riders from Lotto Soul, Quick-Step Floors. But then an attack went up the road courtesy of Alex Dowsett of Movistar and Dion Smith of Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The technical turns at the 13km point played into the hands of Dowsett and Smith, who were able to elude the peloton for a little while through the streets and disappear out of sight on occasion.
The pair traded efforts well and enjoyed an advantage of some 10-15 seconds with 11km remaining. With 10km to go the gap to the bunch was 18 seconds, and while one Kiwi was off the front in Dion Smith, another in Sam Bewley was off the back with his job for the team complete for the day. At the head of the peloton Trek-Segafredo were sitting on the front with Team Sunweb also a strong presence at the head of the race, but they were giving Smith and Dowsett a little bit of a gap, with 22 seconds the advantage as the pair headed under the 9km to go mark.
From there though the gap began to drop again as Bora-Hansgrohe hit the front of the chase pack. With 6km to go the gap had come down to just around 10 seconds, but Dowsett and Smith were continuing onwards, determined to give themselves a fighting chance at a stage upset. They lasted through the 5km to go point but alas their days were numbered and with 4.4km to go the catch was made and who else but a certain Andre Greipel led the charge to reel them in as the Belgian took the role of worker this time. The attacks weren’t done yet though, with Yves Lampaert launching an attack and gaining a slight gap with 3.5km left to race.
Lampaert looks to cause upset but Theuns wins out
Lampaert’s move was a good one, with the Belgian having 10 seconds in hand with 1.8km to go. It was touch and go as to whether he’d make it all the way to the line, with the gap holding as he neared the 1km to go banner. The peloton were a little frantic and appearing somewhat disorganised behind them. There was no one dominant team, but eventually Orica-SCOTT surged to the front to take control. With 800m to go though it still looked like Lampaert’s stage, until Trek-Segafredo moved forward to lead out the sprint with just 200m left to race. Edward Then hit the front as Lampaert was caught just in time, and from there he held off the challenges to take the win. Marko Kump took second and Tim Merlier third, with Peter Sagan and Dylan Groenewegen completing the top five.
Dion Smith, after his breakaway efforts in the closing kilometres, came through in the main peloton while Sam Bewley arrived home solo a few minutes later, his job complete and his attention now on recovery to be of service tomorrow.