Daryl Impey surges into contention at the  Tour Down Under

South Africa's Daryl Impey surged into contention to defend his Tour Down Under title with a thrilling win ahead of race leader Patrick Bevin

The Mitchelton-Scott rider claimed the fourth stage to move to second overall just seven seconds behind New Zealand's Bevin (CCC Team) with two stages left in the UCI season-opening world tour event in South Australia.

Impey gave his hopes of becoming the first rider to go back-to-back in the race's 21-year history a massive boost with his stage victory.

Astana's Leon Luis Sanchez went early but was caught by Impey and Bevin in the last 20 metres to finish third on the 129.2-kilometre (80-mile) stage through the Adelaide Hills from Unley to Campbelltown.

"I'm so stoked to have done something like this, it's so special," Impey said "I knew if I lined up Paddy Bevin, I'd have a good shot at winning, so I'm super-happy to win today."

The stage featured the challenging Corkscrew Road ascent as a final test some six kilometres from the finish.

Wout Poels (Team Sky), George Bennett (Team Jumbo-Visma), Richie Porte(Trek-Segafredo) and Michael Woods (EF-Education First) attacked on the final climb. But they were caught by the chasing bunch, led by Impey and Bevin, on the descent resulting in an exciting 20-rider finish. Poels, Bennett, Porte and Woods announced themselves as the top climbers ahead of Sunday's challenging final stage at Willunga, where the Tour winner will be anointed.

"It's still not a huge buffer in the points lead" Bevin said. "Porte, Bennett, Woods and Poels showed themselves as the best pure climbers in this race, but this race fortunately is about being an all-rounder. Basically you've got to sprint better than the climbers and climb better than the sprinters."

VIDEO: 2019 Tour Down Under Stage 4 Highlights

Australia's Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia) retained the King of the Mountain jersey after stage four from Bennett and Italy's Manuele Boaro (Astana Pro Team).

Former triple world champion Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) fell back in race contention following Thursday's stage win and finished 29th in Friday's leg to be 20th overall.

Bevin took over the sprint leader's jersey by 12 points from Sagan and Sanchez.

Saturday's Stage 5 over 149.5km begins in Glenelg and finishes in Strathalbyn.

Results after the 129.2km fourth stage of the UCI Tour Down Under from Unley to Campbelltown in South Australia on Friday:

2019 Tour Down Under Stage 4 Top 10

1. Daryl Impey (RSA/Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3hr 3min 27sec
2. Patrick Bevin (NZL/CCC Team) same time
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/Astana Pro Team) s.t.
4. Ruben Guerrero (POR/Team Katusha Alpecin) s.t.
5. Ruben Fernandez (ESP/Movistar Team) s.t.
6. George Bennett (NZL/Team Jumbo Visma) s.t.
7. Diego Ulissi (ITA/UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
8. Michael Woods (CAN/EF Education First Pro Cycling) s.t.
9. Christopher Hamilton (AUS/Team Sunweb) s.t.
10. Dylan van Baarle (NED/Team Sky) s.t.

2019 Tour Down Under General Classification after Stage 4

1. Patrick Bevin (NZL/CCC Team) 13hr 23min 30sec
2. Daryl Impey (RSA/Mitchelton-SCOTT) at 7 sec
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/Astana Pro Team) +11
4. Christopher Hamilton (AUS/Team Sunweb) +21
5. Ryan Gibbons (RSA/Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) same time
6. Jan Polanc (SLO/UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
7. George Bennett (NZL/Team Jumbo Visma) s.t.
8. Ruben Guerrero (POR/Team Katusha Alpecin) s.t.
9. Diego Ulissi (ITA/UAE Team Emirates) s.t.
10. Michael Woods (CAN/EF Education First Pro Cycling) s.t.

Sprint Leaders

1. Patrick Bevin (NZL/CCC Team) 48 pts
2. Peter Sagan (SVK/BORA-hansgrohe)  36 pts
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP/Astana Pro Team) 35pts

King of the Mountains

1. Jason Lea (AUS/UniSA-Australia) 20 pts
2. George Bennett (NZL/Team Jumbo Visma) 16 pts
3. Manuele Boaro (ITA/Astana Pro Team) 12 pts

Tag: tourdownunder
Jan 21 2024 - NEWS: Stevie Williams crowned Tour Down Under champion
Jan 20 2024 - NEWS: Oscar Onley wins penultimate stage as Stephen Williams takes lead
Jan 19 2024 - NEWS: Sam Welsford takes a hattrick at the Tour Down Under
Jan 18 2024 - NEWS: Sam Welsford takes second stage win at the Tour Down Under
Jan 17 2024 - NEWS: Mexican Isaac del Toro attacks to win 2024 Tour Down Under stage 2
Jan 16 2024 - NEWS: Sam Welsford takes first win of the 2024 season on the Tour Down Under opening stage
Dec 09 2023 - NEWS: World Champion Julian Alaphilippe to race in Tour Down Under
Jan 22 2023 - NEWS: Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under fine style
Jan 21 2023 - NEWS: France’s Coquard wins Stage 4 as Jany leads Tour Down Under
Jan 19 2023 - NEWS: Rohan Dennis breaks away to win 2nd stage and take Tour Down Under lead
Jan 18 2023 - NEWS: Bauhaus beats Ewan to win first Tour Down Under Stage
Jan 17 2023 - NEWS: Alberto Bettiol wins treacherous Tour Down Under Prologue in the Rain
Dec 15 2022 - NEWS: Hindley, Froome, Thomas and Yates headline 2023 Santos Tour Down Under
Jan 26 2020 - NEWS: Richie Porte wins a second Santos Tour Down Under
Jan 25 2020 - NEWS: Impey takes race lead as Nizzolo wins Sprint Down Under