Bevin’s six bonus seconds saw the New Zealander gain time on all of his General Classification rivals, with the exception of stage winner Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT) who sits seven seconds behind Bevin with two stages remaining.
Earlier in the stage, six riders formed a breakaway that was allowed to go more than five minutes ahead while behind, CCC Team took control of the peloton before being joined by Trek-Segafredo and Mitchelton-SCOTT to help bring the group back.
With the breakaway’s advantage down to one minute with 25 kilometers remaining and the Corkscrew climb looming, the battle for positioning was on at the front of the bunch, at which point attacks came from the breakaway.
Riders began to drop from the main group leaving a reduced bunch to catch the remaining breakaway riders on the early slopes of the climb, and from which the climbers began to attack as they hit the steep gradient.
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Wout Poels (Team Sky), and Mike Woods (EF Education First) broke clear towards the top of the climb and started the descent with a 15-second advantage but Bevin set a blistering pace on the descent and made the catch with two kilometers to go, creating a 20-rider group to battle for the win.
© Cor Vos
Bevin launched his sprint and looked set to take the win but a late surge from Impey saw the 2018 race winner come over the top of Bevin, while Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) rounded out the podium and moved into third place on the General Classification, 11 seconds behind Bevin.
Bevin’s third consecutive top-five result saw him also take the lead in the sprint classification. With a bunch sprint expected on stage five, the battle for the ochre jersey will come down to the iconic Willunga Hill finish on Sunday.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“That was a very tough day. I knew coming down the gorge, it was still a long way to the finish. The race didn’t finish on top of the climb. It was really hard to stop us coming across in the downhill. I took the onus up as much as I had to on the descent. As that group got bigger it was at the point where if I could take any time bonus, it was good. Any is better than none and I wasn’t going to risk losing time to anyone. It was a bit unfortunate to come to the top with Daryl [Impey] but coming second on the stage and keeping the lead is kind of the best-case scenario for me. We as a team had a lot of help before because we told them we’re not going to be the only team to work again all day. There are still two types of guys who can win the overall: the sprinters who can climb, Daryl is the first of them, and obviously, there’s Richie [Porte]. From now on, for us, it’s about managing both parties.”
“To give up four seconds to Daryl is a great result at the end of the day because I don’t feel like he is climbing better than I am and we put time into the pure climbers. It would be great to take more time tomorrow. That would be a real step towards the final day in Willunga because I’m still only 21 seconds over Richie before Willunga. It’s not a huge buffer. Fortunately, this race is about being an all-rounder. Basically, you have to sprint better than the climbers and climb better than the sprinters.”
“For me, personally, this has been an opportunity to grow. Even the stage I won, had I had a Richie Porte or Rohan Dennis on the team then I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity. I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sneak some time away on the first day. The team is racing totally different and it’s suiting me down to the ground. I really feel like I’m enjoying the way we are racing and the style of racing.”
Santos Tour Down Under
Stage 4: Unley > Campbelltown (129.2km)
Top 3: 1. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-SCOTT), 2. Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), 3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team).
CCC Team top 3: 2. Patrick Bevin, 54. Víctor de la Parte, 76. Łukasz Owsian