With the day’s two intermediate sprints featuring in the first 40 kilometers of the 152.8-kilometer stage, the General Classification contenders kept the peloton together to contest the sprints and pick up valuable bonus seconds.
Rosskopf went on the attack with Laurens De Vreese (Astana Pro Team), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Jorge Arcas and Sergio Samitier (both Movistar Team) directly after the sprint and with the peloton sitting up, the advantage grew to three minutes.
Ten points were on offer on the only catgeorized climb of the day, the category two Mount Torrens climb, which featured a 5.4 percent gradient and hit a maximum gradient of 12 percent.
Rather than wait for the summit, Rosskopf attacked on the bottom slopes and despite a late surge from De Vreese, the American took maximum points to extend his lead to 35 points, with an 18-point advantage over De Vreese with two stages remaining.
With the breakaway pulled back with 28 kilometers to go and potential crosswinds not eventuating, the stage was set for a bunch sprint in Murray Bridge.
Szymon Sajnok was led to the front of the bunch by his teammates but a crash inside the final ten kilometres brought the Polish sprinter down. Fortunately, Sajnok was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage but will be examined post-stage to determine if any serious injuries were sustained.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) took the win in Murray Bridge while Simon Geschke finished in the bunch to maintain his seventh place on the General Classification, 15 seconds behind race leader Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo).
Quotes from the Finish Lines
“I feel good in general but I feel the lack of stage racing from the off season which is why we are here to build up for the year. My body is getting a little more tired every day rather than holding up for five or six days which is normally what happens when you have a few stage races in the legs. It was pretty clear that Mitchelton SCOTT wanted to control the start of the stage for the time bonuses so once we saw that, I saved my legs and didn’t try for the breakaway as it would be a waste of energy. After the intermediate sprints, the breakaway went straight after.
“I went early on the climb just to see if there would be any other interest, rather than ride up all together and get surprised 200m before the top. It was good to surprise the others too because if they are not expecting it and you can get a gap, it discourages them from putting in such a big effort to chase me down.
“I expect De Vreese to try in the breakaway again as he has been active every day. He’s the main one to watch but we also have to figure out how to keep someone like Richie Porte from picking up too many points because naturally he goes over the climbs late in the race at the front, if not attacking. Ideally, I will be in another breakaway to secure the jersey.”
Santos Tour Down Under
Stage 4: Norwood > Murray Bridge (152.8km)
Top 3: 1. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), 2. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step), 3. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates).
CCC Team top 3: 34. Fran Ventoso, 35. Simon Geschke, 38. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.
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