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Fourth Stage at Wallonie Saxo-Bank Diary

The fourth stage at the Tour de Wallonie saw another large split happen in the peloton with nearly half of the group finishing over 35 minutes behind the leaders.

Saxo Bank came out fighting from the gun with Alex Kolobnev riding as virtual leader on the road for a large portion of the stage. He along with Jurgen Van Goolen made the split in the front group, but since the Saxo Bank riders were heavily marked by the other teams, it became very difficult for the Saxo duo to control the group. A break of three riders gained a minute on the reduced peloton, with Julien El Fares from Cofidis taking the overall lead. Kolobnev with two other riders chased the breakaway, taking fifth on the stage and moving up to third on the GC.

Intense racing, big split

"There was a big split in the field today with maybe only thirty guys making the front group," Directeur Sportif Brad McGee explained. "Our team rode wonderfully to make sure our main GC riders were well placed when the split happened." Since Alex Kolobnev started the day sitting in ninth place just ten seconds back, he was primed and ready to take over the lead when the large selection happened on the road. "We had Jurgen and Alex in the front and Alex was virtual leader for much of the stage," McGee said. "They rode very well together but the group turned out to be too large for the two of them to control." Kolobnev who came into the race as team leader but also with a mind to putting the final touches on his form before the Classica San Sebastian, worked hard to gain all the seconds he could. "The team worked very hard for me, helping me gain bonification seconds along the route which will aid me in moving up the GC," Kolobnev explained. "We hadn’t expected that kind of a break in the pack, and when there is a group like that of so many guys, there are always going to be lots of attacks."

Attacking and counter-attacking

"There was a bit of wind, but the split in the field was really just caused by the sheer intensity of the racing," McGee said. With Van Goolen, who is also well placed on the GC, to help Kolobnev, they worked together to keep his time gains in the general classification. "Jurgen helped me a lot but we just couldn’t follow every attack and a break of four guys ended up getting away from us," Kolobnev explained. "I was still attacking maybe 100 times and finally got off the front with two other guys." Trying to bridge up to the four riders who had slipped off earlier, Kolobnev and his companions couldn’t quite close the gap. Nevertheless, his efforts on the day moved him into perfect position to take the race by the horns during the final stage on Wednesday. "Tomorrow is also a hard day with lots of crosswinds likely," Kolobnev concluded. "So maybe we can make something happen there." Regardless of the results on Wednesday, Directeur Sportif Brad McGee is very content with the efforts of his team during the entire race. "I can’t say enough about how well our riders are pulling together and working for the team," McGee said. "And as for tomorrow, Alex is a fighter and will be very strong in stage five as well as San Sebastian on Saturday."

Christopher Jones
Christopher Joneshttps://www.bicycles.net.au
Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a design agency, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.
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