Wout van Aert took his first victory at the highest level in the Critérium du Dauphiné 2019 stage four time trial, as Adam Yates moves into the yellow jersey after an outstanding solo effort.
A breathless day in the south east of France saw a huge performance from former cyclocross world champion Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), horrific news for Chris Froome who crashed during the stage recon and suffered a broken leg, and Brit Yates moves into the race lead.
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Van Aert’s shock victory has been overshadowed by the news that Team Ineos leader Froome would not be starting the Tour de France after suffering a serious injury during a fall while riding the course before the start of the stage.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) was assured in the solo test, finishing sixth on the stage and riding hard enough to steal the race lead from Bahrain-Merida’s Dylan Teuns by just four seconds.
How it happened
At 26.1km long, the Dauphiné time trial followed a large circuit out into the countryside with the start and finish in Roanne.
Opening with a 7.5km flat stretch, the road then tilted skyward with a false flat section before the major feature of the day – the 2.3km-long 7.6 per cent gradient Saint-André-d’Apchon climb, which crested 11.5km in the route.
The climb as featured some tight and twisting turns that would really test the courage and confidence on the TT bike.
After a long ski-ramp downhill section, the final seven kilometres flattened out with handful of corners remaining for riders to navigate.
The stage was likely to be split into two distinct stories, with the fight for the general classification raging parallel to the stage glory.
Headlines were written before the stage was even underway however, as Chris Froome crashed on the descent from the climb during the course recon and was rushed to hospital.
It later emerged Froome had suffered a broken leg in the fall and would not be starting the Tour de France for the first time since 2011.
Former time trial world champion Dumoulin was the favourite for the stage although he has still been building up strength after a knee injury suffered during the first week of the Giro d’Italia.
Having lost time and fallen away from the overall battle on stage two, Dumoulin started early in the day and lived up to expectation as he set the fastest provisional time of 34-25.
With plenty of strong time triallists yet to come, including GC favourites like Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Dumoulin’s place in the hot seat was fragile but his time was cause for confidence.
But as Kruijswijk and Porte hit the intermediate timing check slower than Dumoulin, it was Belgian superstar Van Aert who crossed the finish line and dethroned the king.
Van Aert rode to a 33-38, knocking 47 seconds off the time of 2017 Giro d’Italia winner Dumoulin.
Kruijswijk was the best finisher of all the overall contenders, finishing fourth on the stage at 49 seconds slower the Van Aert’s time, but having lost time on stage two he wasn’t in with a chance of stealing the race lead.
The remaining GC favourites all fell short of the stage win, but Adam Yates rode to a hugely impressive 34-34, good enough for sixth overall.
Tejay van Garderen was another surprising performer, finishing in second ahead of Dumoulin, but still 31 seconds back on the provisional leader.
All eyes then turned to the last man and race leader Dylan Teuns who was looking to hold onto his yellow jersey, starting the day with a 24-second advantage over his most threatening rivals.
Teuns rode valiantly and came within grasp of holding onto his lead over Yates in the final kilometre, but by the line had lost his advantage.
Adam Yates moved into the race lead with a four-second advantage over Teuns.
Van Aert extended his lead in the young rider classification, now holding 1-14 over Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).
Critérium du Dauphiné 2019, stage four: Roanne to Roanne – ITT (26.1km)
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, in 33-38
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education First, at 31 seconds
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb, at 47s
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 49s
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 51s
6. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 56s
7. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 59s
8. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin, at 1-05
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-07
10. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-10
General classification after stage four
1. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, in 12-27-26
2. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida, at 4 seconds
3. Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education First, at 6s
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 7s
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 24s
6. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 25s
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 26s
8. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, at 30s
9. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 40s .