Report: SaudiTour Stage 4

Nacer Bouhanni won the sprint at the end of stage 4 to take the overall lead in the race; Jacob Tipper (Ribble Weldtite) gets in the days breakaway

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Report: SaudiTour Stage 4

In the top five of the first three stages on this inaugural Saudi Tour, Nacer Bouhanni saw his consistency rewarded with victory on day 4 of the event. The French sprinter claimed his first victory of the season wearing his new Arkea-Samsic colours. The 29-year-old was the fastest of in the bunch sprint at Al Muzahimiyah King Saud University, beating Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie) and Yevgeniy Gidich (Astan Pro Team) to the line.

Photo: @thesauditour

Thanks to the bonus seconds claimed at the finish, Bouhanni takes command of the general classification and will be wearing the leader’s green jersey on Saturday’s final stage.

At the start of stage four of the Saudi Tour situated at the Wadi Namar Park, the 116 riders of the event were warmly welcomed by a part of the Saudi Arabian national cycling team. Seven Saudi riders were even honoured to ride ahead of the pack in the neutral zone on the way to km 0 before the official start. And a fast start it would be on the day’s 137-km stage to Al Muzahimiyah King Saud University.

Despite quite a few attempts in the opening moments of the race, the first decisive move happened after 18 kilometres when three men pulled away: Zukowsky (Rally Cycling), Kangangi (Bike AID) and Jacob Tipper (Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling). They reached the first intermediate active sprint, led out by Zukowsky with a 30” advantage over a group of four including Paaschens (Wallonie Bruxelles), Fuentes (Burgos-BH), Boev (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Nicolau (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and two minutes over the peloton led by the Bahrain-McLaren team of the race leader Bauhaus. At km 37, the front three were eventually caught by the chasing four.
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The leading seven continued their progression and the gap grew and reached 3’10 at the second sprint won by Fuentes, extending his lead in the Most Active rider standings. In the battle for the Polka dot climber’s jersey, Nicolau got his revenge at the third intermediate sprint beating Fuentes for the 3 points, while the gap reached five minutes over the peloton.

But, as expected the race got far more entertaining as the riders took on the Qiddiyah climb. On the final kilometre of the uphill portion of this climb, Nicolau took off on his own. The Spaniard made it first to the fourth sprint with a 10” advantage over Zukowsky and 25” over Paaschens. Behind, the UAE team Emirates of Rui Costa accelerated making life hard for his rivals. While polka-dot jersey wearer Fuentes was dropped and eventually caught by the peloton, the eight front riders regrouped again on the descent.

Photo: @thesauditour

On the second climb, Green jersey Phil Bauhaus suffered a mechanical incident and was dropped from the peloton while again the UAE team powered to the front. Behind the leading riders, a group of 11 men took off including Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Doubey (Circus-Wanty Gobert) and Garcia Sosa (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA). At the bonus sprint (km 113), Nicolau captured 3 precious seconds and points ahead of Paaschens and Kangangi while Rui Costa was only 15” adrift and the overall leader as well with Nacer Bouhanni over a minute behind.

On the long descent, the peloton finally regrouped and the leaders were caught. At the bottom, Rui Costa once again powered away with 8 kms to go, taking with him Doubey. Both men enjoyed a 15” lead with 5 kilometres remaining. Their efforts finally proved to be in vain as all the strong riders in the Saudi Tour came together together again. The decision for the stage would be made in a sprint between over 60 riders.

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Well led out by his Arkea-Samsic team mates, Nacer Bouhanni flew to victory, outsprinting Niccolo Bonifazio and Yevgeniy Gidich. In the top 5 of the three previous stages (and the top 3 of the first two days), the Frenchman confirmed his fine form claiming his first win of the year. Already a winner of three stages on both the Giro and the Vuelta, Bouhanni adds a victory in Saudi Arabia.

Thanks to his stage success, the sprinter takes command of the general classification and will be wearing the Green jersey on tomorrrow’s final stage with a slim 2” advantage over Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-McLaren) and 5” over Rui Costa. Bouhanni also leads the Points classification while Kron (Riwal Readynez Cycling Team) remains best young rider and Nicolau conquers the Most Active rider’s jersey.

Feeding time for Jacob in the breakaway. Photo: James Huntly Photography

Another good day for Ribble Weldtite …
With Jacob Tipper getting in the breakway for Ribble Weldtite, it was another good day for the British team. Jacob Tipper explained “it was a fairly manic start as yesterday was. Not a lot was being allowed to go, and after yesterday when I was pretty disappointed when I thought I had made the move and then it was brought back, today I kept persevering until it went. Eventually, I got dispatched on the steep climb but it meant I was in the front group of the race with Zeb, Charles and Lamps so I could at least be of assistance a bit if I was needed before it really kicked off the second time up there.”

Big wide roads for the peloton to spread out on. Photo: James Huntly Photography

Stage 4
1. Nacer Bouhanni Team Arkéa – Samsic 03:21:55
2. Niccolo Bonifazio Total Direct Energie
3. Yevgeniy Gidich Astana Pro Team
4. Damiano Cima Gazprom – RusVelo
5. Ivo Oliveira UAE Team Emirates
6. Adrien Garel B&B Hotels – Vital Concept
7. Orluis Aular Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
8. Stephen Bassett Rally Cycling
9. Vladislav Kulikov Gazprom – RusVelo
10. Phil Bauhaus Bahrain – McLaren

19. Connor Swift Team Arkéa – Samsic
20. James Shaw Riwal Readynez Cycling
22. Daniel McLay Team Arkéa – Samsic
45. Rui Costa UAE Team Emirates @ 15
73. Zeb Kyffin Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 03:07
76. Fred Wright Bahrain – McLaren @ 07:16
96. Mark Cavendish Bahrain – McLaren @ 10:53
97. Charles Page Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 10:53
98. Jacob Tipper Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 10:55
99. Steve Lampier Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 11:17
100. Jack Rees Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 16:10
109. Richard Jones Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 16:10
110. Oliver Moors Ribble Weldtite Pro Cycling @ 16:10
114. Matthew Gibson Burgos – BH @ 16:10

Full Result is here: 

1. Nacer Bouhanni Team Arkéa – Samsic 14:34:49
2. Phil Bauhaus Bahrain – McLaren @ 02
3. Youcef Reguigui Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team @ 14
4. Carlos Barbero NTT Pro Cycling Team @ 16
5. Sergey Chernetskiy Gazprom – RusVelo @ 17
6. Andreas Kron Riwal Readynez Cycling Team @ 17
7. Geoffrey Soupe Total Direct Energie @ 18
8. August Jensen Riwal Readynez Cycling Team @ 18
9. Rui Costa UAE Team Emirates @ 20
10. Ramunas Navardauskas Nippo Delko Provence @ 28

17. Niki Terpstra Total Direct Energie @ 34
18. Connor Swift Team Arkéa – Samsic @ 36
19. James Shaw Riwal Readynez Cycling Team @ 49


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