Lukas Pöstlberger clings on to Critérium du Dauphiné lead in stage four time trial as Lutsenko takes win

Geraint Thomas scraped the top 10 after setting the fastest time at the intermediate check

Alexey Lutsenko
(Image credit: Getty)

Lukas Pöstlberger held on to keep the Critérium du Dauphiné on his shoulders by just one second, as Astana's Alexey Lutsenko put in a surprising yet stage-winning performance to win the stage four time trial and move up to second overall.

The Austrian Pöstlberger finished ninth on the stage to defend his race lead, 25 seconds down, but three seconds quicker than tenth-place Geraint Thomas, despite the Welshman having gone quickest at the intermediate time check.

Lutsenko's team-mate Ion Izagirre was second fastest on the stage, eight seconds down, while Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Kasper Asgreen took third, a further second behind.

Richie Porte (Ineos), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) all put in strong rides to finish inside the top 10.

Asgreen moves up to third, nine seconds in arrears, Thomas stays in eighth, 24 seconds down, and leapfrogged by team-mate Porte, up to seventh and 16 seconds off Pöstlberger.

How it happened

It wouldn’t be until over an hour and a half had passed until we’d see the GC contenders test themselves over the 16km-long course, as Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin set a good early benchmark of 22-35, nearly a minute quicker than the first out on the course, UAE Team Emirates’ Nelson Oliveira.

The first time to better Martin’s came from an unexpected source, Lotto-Soudal’s Australian youngster Harry Sweeny, seven seconds faster, Will Barta unable to go quicker.

But another young rider was on the course and looking good, Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard going fastest at the intermediate checkpoint, the Dane smashing Sweeny’s time at the finish line, the first under 22 minutes, stopping the clock at 21-53.

Brandon McNulty and Chris Froome were soon off, as Mikkel Bjerg and Michal Kwiatkowski looked strong out on the road, but neither able to crack the 22-minute barrier.

McNulty was closer, though, three seconds slower than Vingegaard, before Froome came home with a time of 23-48.

The GC men soon began emerging from the start hut, Richie Porte then setting the fastest intermediate time so far, the Tasmanian two seconds faster than Vingegaard across the finish line, Wilco Kelderman then beating Porte’s time at the intermediate check.

As Pöstlberger began his effort all riders were now out on the course, Lutsenko third at the time check, Thomas going eight seconds quicker than Kelderman at the same spot.

Pöstlberger passed through the check 14 seconds slower than Thomas, as Lutsenko had quietly ridden the strongest effort of the day, stopping the clock at 21-36.

Thomas, meanwhile, had faded over the second half of the course, 22 seconds slower than Lutsenko, as Pöstlberger fought all the way up to the line to register a top 10 finish and keep his yellow jersey from the clutches of the Kazakh by just one second.

Results - 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné, stage four: Firminy to Roche-La Molière (16.4km) - ITT

1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, in 21-36
2. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, at eight seconds
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 9s
4. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 12s
5. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM, at 13s
6. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 15s
7. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 17s
8. Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Team Emirates, at 21s
9. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 23s
10. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 28s

General classification after stage four

1. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 12-57-07
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech, at one second
3. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 9s
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech, at same time
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 13s
6. Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) DSM, at 14s
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 16s
8. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 24s
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 32s
10. Ben O'Connor (Aus) Ag2r Citroën, at 34s

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