The 4th stage of the Tour of Austria would be the first stage for the General Classification riders. Victor De la Parte (Vorarlberg) would be the stage victor, Jan Hirt ( CCC Sprandi) was 2nd and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) claimed 3rd place.
At 210km in length, it would be a long day out on the road even before the peloton hit the final 17km cat 1 climb up to Drobatsch. 3 riders escaped in the early part of the stage and with such a distance to cover before the final climb started, they were given just over 5 minutes by the peloton.
MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were riding in support of Natnael Berhane, our Eritrean champion today. Natnael was kept safe in the peloton by his African team as the peloton slowly clawed in the breakaway. By the time we hit the final 17km climb, the break was caught and Natnael was delivered to the front of the group.
The early part of the climb wasn’t too tough and so it took a bit of time for the peloton to be whittled down. Just after passing the 10km to go sign, a few accelerations saw the climbers come to the fore. A 6 rider group would go clear inside of 5km to go and Natnael was strong enough to make the selection.
The real difference was made during the final 2km where De la Parte went clear with Hirt to win the stage. Hermans crossed the line alone 8 seconds later. Berhane would come in 21″ after the stage victor, a result good enough to see our Eritrean move up to 3rd on GC just behind Hirt in yellow and Hermans in 2nd.
JP Heynderickx – Sport Director
Today was not bad at all. The stage went according to the plan we had. We looked after Natnael all stage and brought him to the final climb in a good position. At 5km to go there were only 18 riders left. CCC Sprandi started attacking and Natnael followed from the 2nd position. Then came the counter attacks. Natnael was very good and I was impressed with how he rode. He is now in the top placing’s of the GC with only a few seconds the difference. This is a good place to be so we are happy with our performance today.