Tom Scully and EF Education First-Drapac had to survive a late scare in stage 4 of the Tour de France. Rigoberto Uran, the team’s GC hope, was held up in a big crash that brought down a number of riders right at the point where the sprint teams were winding up for a big bunch finish. Enter a pink and green Kiwi to the rescue!
It was a case of unwanted drama for EF Education First-Drapac in a day that had otherwise been largely unchallenging. Stage 4 was expected to end in a bunch sprint finish, and so it did after a tense final chase that saw Guillaume van Keirsbulck – the last man standing from the breakaway – finally caught under the 1km to go banner.
But as we learned in stage 1 of this year’s race, when a crash takes down GC contenders with 5km to go it’s alarm bells for the team around them. Today saw two major GC contenders among those to be brought down by the 5km to go crash, with Ilnur Zakarin and Rigoberto Uran among those to hit the deck.
From there it was a tale of two fortunes, as Zakarin struggled to get back up to speed and ended up conceding a minute to the peloton. For Uran, however, team support from Sep Vanmarcke, Simon Clarke, Tom Scully and Daniel Martinez meant that the Colombian was quickly back on his bike and also back in the peloton.
We asked Tom Scully about those final kilometres and what went into keeping the race under control and regaining contact with a fast-charging peloton.
“It’s about knowing where your leader is and how he wants to approach the final, we ride around him and support him,” Scully told RoadCycling. “The crash happened, Dani [Martinez] was thinking fast and had his bike ready (similar size) for Rigo to jump straight on before he was even off the ground, then it was just a matter of making way through the pile of bikes and linking up with Rigo.
“I was pretty happy to see Sep and Simon waiting, when the 4 of us were set, from that moment it’s just a controlled full gas from each of us, and he was back in the safety of the peloton. Job done! Another box ticked.”
While the stage belonged to Fernando Gaviria, Uran’s safe re-entry into the peloton meant that he maintained his 10th position overall, 35 seconds behind Greg van Avermaet, and is still right in the thick of the major contenders for this year’s Tour title. He has Tom Scully and the team’s second team time trial in two days to thank for that!