Guerreiro takes command
February 2 nd 2023 - 18:00 [GMT + 3]
Stage 4 of the Saudi Tour was promised to a climber or at least a man with GC ambitions and it delivered. The decisive and extremely steep climb to the Skyviews of Harrad Uwayrid saw four strong men pull away: Buitrago (TBV), Formolo, Grossschartner (UAE) and Guerreiro (MOV). They managed to keep a decent enough gap on the green jersey group to make it clear to the line and battle for the overall lead. Ruben Guerreiro proved to be the fastest beating Formolo and Buitrago to the line. The Portuguese who joined Movistar from EF during the winter break wins his fourth ever pro win and captures the green jersey with one day to go.
A clear sky, very little wind and mild temperatures. The scene was perfectly set for what promised to be the queen stage of this third edition of the Saudi Tour. After what seemed to be an appetizer yesterday with the final climb up to Abu Rakah crowning young Norwegian prince Soren Wearenskjold and Italian king Jonathan Milan, the new green jersey, stage 4 was designed for the GC contenders. With the demanding finish to the Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid where Maxim Van Gils conquered the 2022 title last year, all eyes were on the climbers. The superb Maraya Concert Hall designed in the Ashar Valley to blend into the surrounding landscape was the host of a picturesque start for the 105 remaining riders. On the menu : 163.4kms including two large loops before a final climb and a long straight towards Harrat Uwayrid.
After a visit of the splendid Banyon Tree resort during the neutralised start, a fierce battle started straight from the gun. Despite quite a few attempts, it wasn’t before km 24 that three men managed to break away: Engelhardt (JAY), Zukowsky (Q36) and Barac (COR). These three were rapidly caught by Mohd Zariff (TSG) and the gap reached 2’10’’ at km 30. The first Intermediate active sprint was claimed by Barac while the pack started chasing led by team Bahrain Victorious of green jersey Milan and title contender Buitrago. Shortly after, white jersey wearer and 9th overall, Andoni Lopez de Abetzuko (EUS) was forced to retire after an incident with another rider that saw him crash out.
ZUKOWSKY LAST TO BE CAUGHT
The second intermediate active sprint (km 106) was again claimed by Barac while the pack had the escapees under control (1’45’’). At the end of the second of two big loops around AlUla, the pack led by UnoX pushed hard. With 15kms to go, Zukowsky was the last man at the front while his companions were caught. The Canadian was finally caught after 150kms.
FOUR MEN POWER AWAY
As soon as the first kilometres of the final climb the heavy sprinters were dropped: Groenewegen (JAY), Ackermann (UAE), Waerenskjold (UXT). At the front four men managed to power away: Buitrago (TBV), Formolo, Grossschartner (both UAE) and Guerreiro (MOV). At the summit where Guerreiro won the bonus sprint and its precious 3 seconds, the front group had an advantage of 20’’ over the first chasers and 1’ over the green jersey group of Jonathan Milan. There were still eight kilometres to cover until the finish line but the front four managed to remain clear. The stage win eventually went to Ruben Guerreiro ahead of Formolo and Buitrago. The Portuguese who won a stage of the Giro back in 2020 as well as the KOM jersey that same year claims his first win of the season under his new Movistar colours.
GUERREIRO IN GREEN
Thanks to the 13 bonus seconds he captured on the day (10” at the finish + 3” at the bonus sprint), Guerreiro takes command of the general classification with an 8” lead over Formolo and 9” over Buitrago. The 28-year-old will be wearing the green jersey on the final day of the event with the hope of keeping it for good. Meanwhile Buitrago becomes the best young rider (white jersey) and Milan keeps the lead of the points classification (red jersey). Marcus Hansen (UXT) also keep the blue jersey of the most active rider.