Søren Kragh Andersen was dominant on the tight and winding country lanes of Belgium, taking victory in the rescheduled BinckBank Tour 2020 time trial on stage four.
The Sunweb rider ripped around the short 8km course in under 10 minutes, pushing an average speed of almost 48km/h to secure the win six seconds ahead of European time trial champion Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).
Overall leader Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) put in a storming ride to finish fourth on the stage and slightly extend his lead, with just one stage remaining.
How it happened
The redesigned time trial stage of the 2020 BinckBank Tour was a fast and furious 8.14km blast around Riemst in Belgium, with tight and technical roads to really challenge the pros.
Starting with an uphill run, the course took riders out into the narrow Limburg country lanes for a fast middle section, punctuated by some sharp right hand turns.
Finally the run to the line was a draggy straight with another climb 1km from the finish, before a fast downhill to the finish.
The strongest rider early in the day was Swedish TT specialist Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ) who tackled the short course in 10-26, with an average speed of 46km/h.
But the course was likely to suit a more explosive rider than a pure solo rider like Ludvigsson, so his chances of taking the victory hung in the balance.
The constant high-power accelerations the course demanded did prove to be in favour of the sprinters, as Ludvigsson was eventually toppled by Cofidis fast man Christophe Laporte, who knocked six seconds off the previous fastest time to take the hot-seat.
Times continued to tumble as we moved through the order however, with Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) setting a new fastest pace, which was quickly toppled by Jasha Sütterlin (Sunweb), with a 10-16.
Sütterlin didn’t have long to enjoy his provisional lead however, as his team-mate Søren Kragh Andersen smashed the course and was the only rider to break the 10-minute mark, with a blistering 9-59, averaging 48.9km/h.
It was a tense wait out on the course however as Stefan Küng, one of the best TTers of 2020, was out for his run and was one of the big favourites to take the stage.
Küng crossed the intermediate timing check just one second slower than Andersen and it looked good for the Swiss rider to take the lead in the second half, but Kung wasn’t able to match Andersen’s speed, finishing six seconds slower in provisional second place.
No one was able to take the top spot from Andersen as the GC top-10 took to the course, with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) unable to make a dent in the podium places.
Second-place overall Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) rode a respectable TT but didn’t challenge for the stage and slipped off the podium in the general classification, with only Pedersen left on the road.
The former world champion put in a great ride to finish fourth on the stage, just eight seconds behind Andersen.
But it Pedersen’s compatriot Andersen who had secured the stage win, and pulled himself into overall contention with just one Classics-style stage remaining on stage five.
Pedersen still leads the race with a seven second gap to Andersen, while Stefan Küng is now third, 13 seconds off the lead.
BinckBank Tour 2020, stage four: Riemst to Riemst (8.14km ITT)
1. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb, in 9-59
2. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 6s
3. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Pro Cycling, at 7s
4. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 8s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 12s
6. Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Sunweb, at 16s
7. Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 18s
8. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – QUick-Step, at 20s
9. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling, at 21s
10. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, in 6-35-31
2. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb, at 7s
3. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ, at 13s
4. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Pro Cycling, at 14s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 17s
6. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates, at 19s
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 24s
8. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling, at 28s
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 30s
10. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 31s