Tour of the Alps #4: Ben retains white jersey

Our hero of stage 3, Ben O’Connor, held onto 8th place in the GC and still holds the white jersey for leading the young rider’s category following stage four of the Tour of the Alps.

Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) won the stage in Lienz (134km) after the race crossed from Italy into Austria. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished second and teammate Koen Bouwman was third.

For our team, Louis Meintjes rode strongly as he spent a large portion of the race in the breakaway as one of nine riders with sporting director Alex Sans Vega pleased with the South Africans efforts ahead of the Giro d’Italia.

Alex Sans Vega – Sporting Director

Today was another shorter stage, a hard one, like every day and a lot of climbing. From the very beginning there were many attacks and all the big GC teams wanted to have one rider in the break, to have some teammates up front to enable them to come across on the last climb. Sky, Astana, UAE Emirates and ourselves were all trying to put people into the break. That’s why it took almost 50kms for the break to go. And then it was nine riders and we had Louis in it.

From there on Sky had one rider, UAE had a rider and Astana also one, so FDJ never allowed the gap to stretch beyond two minutes. Then into the last 30kms the gap was down to 45 seconds ahead of the last two climbs of the day. From there it was attack after attack.

There was very little control and then finally with 10kms to go at the top of the last climb there was a group of 12 riders with the main favourites including Ben O’Connor. Once they went down into valley with 4kms left it was pretty flat to the finish. Astana was the team with the most riders in that final group and so they took advantage of that, using different attacks which saw Sanchez solo to the finish.

So for us it was a good day. We had Louis Meintjes in the break and it was a good test ahead of the Giro for him. The others in the team supported Ben well and he’s kept his 8th position in the GC and was still up there with the top favourites.

We will see what happens tomorrow, it’s going to be a tough day. The racing is going to be very interesting and we’re going to try our best on the last stage.