It was an up and down day for the Euskaltel squad on the 4th stage of the Tour Down Under. Gorka and Ion Izagirre both stayed up high on the general classification while Jon Aberasturi and Juan José Lobato crashed in a multi-rider pileup with less than 3 kilometers to go. The finish was littered with multiple crashes on the final straight that was described by multiple riders as dangerous with multiple parked cars along the roadside.
The mild, breezy day was animated by a two-man break, initiated by World Champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and Damien Howson (UniSA), who attacked within the first kilometers and gained a quick advantage. The duo were given a leash, though nothing too outrageous, and dominated the action on the flat parcours. SKY and Orica-GreenEdge dominated the chase efforts to bring back the tandem, while Euskaltel made themselves present near the front with 30 kilometers to go.
As the action began to heat up, the peloton bore down on the break and their advantage became slim. With around 15 kilometers to go, the two riders were swallowed up as the sprinters teams wound up their respective trains with the pace raising to speeds of 60 kilometers per hour. The first crash happened around 10 kilometers with multiple riders crashing while mere kilometers later, a couple more riders rode off the edge of the road. With 3 kilometers to go, a large crash happened mainly between Abersturi, Lobato and Garmin-Sharp's sprinter Tyler Farrar. On the final approach as the sprint ramped up, another crash hit the rear of the peloton with 750 meters to go as even more riders went down. As the dust settled, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) claimed his 13th stage victory in the Tour Down Under as he beat Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) and Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo-Tinkoff).
With Gorka and Ion finishing safely in the bunch, they kept their high placings on the general classifications as Gorka leapfrogged to 5th place while Ion remains at 6th overall. Ion remains 2nd in the youth classification, 10" behind Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco). Tomorrow's stage over Old Willunga Hill will be pivotal to the GC outcome and Euskaltel's chance at valuable World Tour points.
Results (full results here)
- 1. (Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) 3:02'52")
- 19. Gorka Izagirre s.t.
- 33. Ion Izagirre s.t.
- 34. Garikoitz Bravo s.t.
- 45. Juan José Oroz s.t.
- 101. Mikel Astarloza s.t.
- 121. Jon Aberasturi s.t.
- 126. Juan José Lobato s.t.