The fourth day of racing in the region of Wallonie was all up-and-down and so, it was not a typical day for the sprinters. Some breakaway riders tried to take advantage of that terrain and soon after the flag dropped a six-man group pulled away. The group gained over six minutes on the bunch, with all five remaining CCC Team riders, but, the gap began to fall inside the final 80 kilometers.
When the race entered the hilliest part of the stage, Edward Dunbar (Team Ineos) decided to bridge across to the leaders and later attacked from that group. At that point, however, the advantage of the breakaway was under 30 seconds and with the pace increasing in the reduced peloton it was certain that his move would be neutralized. After the selection on the climbs, the main group consisted of around 50 riders with Paweł Bernas and Nathan Van Hooydonck covering every major late attack and Sajnok patiently waiting for the sprint.
That plan paid off as the stage came down to a bunch finish and with most of the pure sprinters out of contention, Sajnok was one of the fastest in the field. The Polish rider was one of the first to launch his sprint managing to hold his speed to the line and take second place, just behind stage winner, Demare.
Quotes from the Finish Line:
“Yesterday’s hard stage took its toll on my legs so, I was trying to save as much energy and wait for the finish. The peloton split in the hills and it was reduced to just 40 to 50 riders. With four kilometers to go, I was still sitting in last place in that group but, the finale was twisty and winding and I decided to roll the dice to move to the front. I launched my sprint 300 meters from the line, which I don’t really like to do. I prefer to wait a little bit longer and do a more dynamic sprint. However, I had to go early because other riders started coming from behind. In the end, I was defeated only by Demare so I can be pretty happy with the result.”
VOO Tour de Wallonie
Stage 4: Villers-Le-Bouillet › Lierneux, 178.2km
Top 3: 1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama FDJ) 2. Szymon Sajnok (CCC Team) 3. Stijn Steels (Roompot – Charles)
CCC Team Top 3: 2. Szymon Sajnok 39. Paweł Bernas 49. Nathan Van Hooydonck