Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) took a dramatic victory on stage four of the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico, winning a four-up sprint ahead of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and his Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang.
The Kazakh champion had been away solo though since 38km to go on the stage, and managed to navigate two ascents of the steep final climb with an advantage on the chasers.
Lutsenko carried just 14 seconds over the top of the climb with just under six kilometres to go ahead of Rolič, Yates and Fuglsang, and it looked like he might hold on to take the win solo.
But he crashed on a corner with 1.2km to go and despite managing to quickly remount his bike, he was caught shortly after.
The four then entered the final straight together with Roglič leading, with Lutsenko and then Yates behind with Fuglsang at the rear.
It was Lutsenko who then launched his sprint first with around 100m to go and as Yates briefly hesitated, he got the jump on Roglič and was able to hold on to take a hard earned victory.
Yates maintains his seven second lead over Roglič in the general classification, after finishing third behind the Slovenian on the stage.
How it happened
After stage three’s sprint finish, the Tirreno-Adriatico peloton faced a lumpy day of 223km from Foligno to Fossombrone with a difficult finish.
It took some time for a break to finally get away, with 10 riders including Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani), Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy), Lluís Mas (Movistar), Giovanni Visconti (Nerri Sottoli), Jenthe Biermans (Katusha-Alpecin), Robert Power (Team Sunweb) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) eventually going clear.
They built a significant gap very quickly, reaching around nine minutes heading into the final 150km.
The presence of Rosskopf in the group, at just 1-59 down on general classification, meant the peloton needed to start closing that gap, and a furious chase then began with Astana doing the bulk of the work.
With 60km to go the gap was down to four minutes and things were not looking hopeful for the break.
The main bunch continued at fast pace, with a number of nasty crashes happening on a slippery corner with the likes of Tony Martin and Laurens de Plus (both Jumbo-Visma) hitting the deck, as well as Silvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin), with the latter forced to abandon.
As the break began to hit the steep climbs of within the final 50km the gap was racing down, with things breaking up and eventually seeing Lluís Mas try solo before being joined by Nans Peters.
They were finally brought back as a group of GC contenders broke away with just under 40km to go, including Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko (both Astana), Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and race leader Adam Yates.
As they hesitated slightly following their break from the peloton, Lutsenko then attacked solo with around 38km to go, gaining 20 seconds on is rivals behind.
Meanwhile, the main bunch looked like they were beginning to catch the Yates group, which was failing to work together efficiently.
But as they entered the final 25km the gaps then started to stretch. Lutsenko held a gap of around 30 seconds while the main bunch slipped to over a minute behind the Yates group as they started to work together.
Impetus then stopped and the peloton caught the Yates group with 17.7km as Lutsenko forged ahead with 48 seconds.
Lutsenko was able to increase his lead on the first of two 9.1km circuits that included a climb that pitched up to 19 per cent gradient, carrying 50 seconds over the top of the climb the first time.
Despite a brief crash after locking up in a corner, the Kazakh champion still held 50 seconds as he crossed the finish line for the second 9.1km lap.
Things maintained until the second ascent of the climb, with Roglič attacking with around 8km to go, with Fuglsang marking and Yates following.
Another push by Roglič towards the top cut the gap down to 14 seconds, but still Lutsenko pushed on.
He was holding off the three chasers well and looked set for a potential solo victory, but then crashed again with 1.2km to go. Despite quickly remounting his bike he was caught within the final kilometre, and would have to try his luck in a four-up sprint.
Amazingly he was able to launch first and hold a strong enough sprint despite his solo efforts to cling on and take victory ahead of Roglič and Yates.
Tirreno-Adriatico continues on Sunday with a 180km stage that finishes atop a climb.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2019, stage four: Foligno to Fossombrone (223km)
1 Alexey Lutsenkc (Kaz) Astana Pro Team, in 5-16-29
2 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, all at same time
5 Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 9s
6 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First, at 23s
7 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
8 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step
10 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 15-53-42
2 Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 7s
3 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 50s
4 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 56s
5 Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb
6 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team, at 1-06
7 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 1-16
8 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 1-19
9 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First, at 1-21
10 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, at 1-25