Cras Moves into Fourth on GC After Stage 4 in France29. July 2017, Lac Blanc (FRA) — Development Team
Tour d’Alsace stage 4 was another big day of climbing and a key stage for the General Classification with Steff Cras finishing fourth to move into the same position on the General Classification with one stage remaining.
With the road rising from KM 0, it was another chaotic start to the day in France with various attacks of the front of the breakaway as they headed towards the first categorized climb of the day, the Col des Bagenelles.
Going over the top of the category 2 climb, after around 40km of racing, seven riders had formed the first breakaway of the day but with the gap still sitting inside one minute, several riders were able to bridge across to the front group.
With eleven riders now sitting at the head of the race, the gap extended slightly but after a fast descent and a subsequent injection of pace at the front of the bunch, the race was brought back together as the road began to rise towards the top of the Col du Petit Ballon.
With 40km to go, Pascal Eenkhoorn seized the opportunity to attack off the front of the bunch, making it his fourth consecutive day at the head of the race, and alongside three other riders, he was sitting 2’20” ahead at the foot of the final climb to Lac Blanc, the Col du Calvaire.
However, a fast pace was still being set behind and the gradients began to take their toll on the leaders and eventually they were swept up in the closing kilometers of the race as the battle of the General Classification contenders heated up.
After being protected by his BMC Development Team teammates all day, and making his way back into the peloton following a crash on the descent of the Col du Petit Ballon, Cras was able to follow all of the attacks on the final climb and went on to cross the line fourth behind eventual winner, Carl Fredrik Hagen (Joker- Icopal).
Cras now sits fourth on the General Classification, 21 seconds behind new race leader Lucas Hamilton (Australia Cycling U23), and just one second off the podium, going into tomorrow’s fifth and final stage.
Jasper Philipsen was also part of a crash on a descent and suffered some abrasions but he was able to finish the stage.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“We were going full gas all day and the Cycling Australia U23 team were setting a really hard tempo. On the descent of the Col du Petit Ballon, there was a big crash at the front of the bunch and I couldn’t avoid it. I knew it was a tricky downhill but I thought we would be safe once we reached the bottom of it. Pascal Eenkhoorn was behind me, I he was able to come across to me and brought me back to the front. Martin Schäppi was also there with me and that helped me to recover. At 40km to go, Pascal attacked and they gained a couple of minute. For me this was perfect and I could stay in the wheels and Martin was still with me which was great. It was an unbelievable pace in the final with riders dropped immediately. The attacks started with 2km to go and I could follow the attacks and in the last 500m I went full gas. I am happy with the result especially as it could have been a lot worse.”
“It was a super hard stage. I was feeling really good on the climbs and Cycling Australia U23 were pulling full gas and the group was getting smaller and smaller all the time. On the top of the Col du Petit Ballon, the middle climb in the race, I had a flat but I knew the descent and I could make it back. I saw that there was a crash with Steff Cras so I helped to bring him back. I was still feeling really good when we made it back and on the top of the next climb, I saw that there was a opportunity to attack. I kept going and then three riders joined me and we worked well together. We had a solid advantage going onto the second to last climb which was really steep and I went full gas to the finish line. In the end though, I was really feeling it in my legs and the group caught me with 5km to go.”
“I have been feeling really good all week so far. On every stage I have been really attentive and looking for opportunities but there hasn’t been a day when the peloton has given a breakaway the opportunity to gain any significant time.”
Stage 4: Ribeauvillé > Lac Blanc, 165.3km
Top 3: 1. Carl Fredrik Hagen (Joker- Icopal) 2. James Knox (Team Wiggins) 3. Fabien Scmidt
BMC Development Team Top 3: 4. Steff Cras 21. Pascal Eenkhoorn 35. Martin Schäppi