Tim Wellens pips Marc Hirschi to win a tough Stage and take the Race Lead
Sam Bennett now sits in fourth overall but retains the points Jersey
The fourth stage of the BinckBank Tour, an out-and-back race of 96.2 km in Houffalize in Wallonia, featured steep climbs to the Bois des Moines, Côte Saint Roch and Côte Achouffe, the latter being a 800m-long ascent with an average gradient of eight per cent that came with approximately 15km before the finish. With this type of terrain, it was not expected that the winner would come from a large group.
The peloton made its way towards Houffalize on wet roads and immediately after the start, a duo unsuccessfully tried their luck in a breakaway but were reeled back in not long afterwards. On the climb to the Côte Bois des Moines, the field split but Jay McCarthy and Lukas Pöstlberger were able to make the cut into a leading group of nine riders, which was joined soon afterwards by yet more riders.
With 30km remaining to the finish, Tim Wellens, Marc Hirschi and Laurens De Plus attacked and were able to put distance between them and the followers behind. The chasing group, which contained several favourites, was not willing to let the leaders escape, but the trio up front worked well together and the chasers were unable to catch up.
In the end, the win was fought out between these three riders. Marc Hirschi led out the sprint to the line, but Tim Wellens was able to overtake him over the last few meters to snatch the win from the Swiss rider. Lukas and Jay arrived at the finish line approximately two minutes in arrears of the stage winner.
Sam Bennett, who had been leading the general classification for the three days, had to relinquish the green jersey and now sits in fourth place in the general classification, but managed to hold on to his lead in the points classification.
VIDEO: 2019 BinckBank Tour Stage 4 Highlights
2019 BinckBank Tour Stage 4 Top 10
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 2:20:41
2 Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb
3 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:05
4 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:23
5 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data 0:00:26
7 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
8 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 0:00:33
9 Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
2019 BinckBank Tour GC after Stage 4
1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 13:32:46
2 Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb 0:00:04
3 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:14
4 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:36
5 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:38
6 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:39
7 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data 0:00:42
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team 0:00:49
9 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
10 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb