Van Gils takes command
February 4 th 2022 - 15:57 [GMT + 3]
More wind and more drama in the Saudi Tour. After a fierce battle on the flat part of this fourth stage where several teams made the best of the tough conditions to create chaos in the pack, a group of 15 reached the bottom of the final climb to the Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid. Andrea Bagioli (QST) was the first to attack but was later caught and dropped by young Maxim Van Gils (LTS). The 22-year-old went on to claim his first professional victory ahead of Mezgec (BEX) and Declercq (QST). The Belgian also takes command of the general classification and will be wearing the Green Jersey on the final day of the event tomorrow.
After an action packed stage 3 due to the strong wind blowing across the Al Ula region, it was slightly calmer this morning at the start of day 4 of the Saudi Tour set at the Winter Park. The 90 remaining riders took off just before 11 AM for a 149-km stage all the way to the spectacular Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid, in other words a demanding summit finish awaited the peloton.
TZORTZAKIS AGAIN IN THE BREAK
As soon as the first kilometre, ‘’mister breakaway’’ Polychronis Tzortzakis (KUW) took off from the pack. He was rapidly caught by Muhamad Othman (TSG). Both men reached km 21 enjoying a 2’30’’ lead. While Tzortzakis made it first to the first Intermediate sprint (km 57) the pack had lost more time: 3’20’’.
The situation changed dramatically with the wind picking up. Under the influence of teams DSM and of course Quickstep-Alpha Vynil, the pack broke up into several groups, leaving only 16 riders in the first one at km 80. Six kilometres later the front two were caught and eventually dropped. The leading 16 continued pushing hard. In that leading group were the likes of Bonifazio, Oss, Turgis (TEN), Mezgec (BEX), Van Gils (LTS), Bagioli (QST) and four team mates, Van Poppel (BOH) and Consonni (COF).
15 IN LEAD
The front group reached the second Intermediate sprint (km 120) led out by Turgis with a 1’20’’ advantage over the chasing pack led by the Bahrain Victorious squad of Green Jersey Santiago Buitrago. With 25kms to go, fifteen riders remained in the lead (Denz dropped) enjoying a 1’25’’ advantage. With 10kms to go Andrea Bagioli attacked on the steep climb of the day. The Italian was later caught and dropped by Maxim Van Gils. The Belgian reached the summit claiming the bonus sprint (km 140) with a 30” lead over Bagioli and 1’ over Rui Costa (UAE) and the Green Jersey group.
VAN GILS UNTOUCHABLE
Despite the strong wind blowing on the last 8kms, Van Gils continued his impressive solo effort. The 22-year-old eventually crossed the finish line victoriously, beating Luka Mezgec (BEX) and Tim Declercq (QST) by 40”. Van Gils claims his first ever pro win on this Saudi Tour and takes command of the general classification. He’ll therefore be defending the Green Jersey (and the White Jersey for best young rider) on tomorrow’s final stage enjoying a rather comfortable lead of 36” over Buitrago and 48” over Rui Costa. The Red Jersey (point’s classification) remains on the shoulders of Caleb Ewan (LTS) while Urianstad is still the leader of the Most Active rider classification.