The Israel Start-Up Nation riders put on strong performance on stage 4 of Tour of the Alps with Chris Froome trying his luck from an early breakaway and the rest of the team setting up Dan Martin for the final climb. Unfortunately, a late crash on the final descent ended Martin’s chances of success on the day.
With over 4000 meters of elevation and several steep ascents, today’s stage was always going to be an important day for the riders aiming at the general classification. As Martin was sitting fourth in the GC prior the stage, the team tactic was to stay around the Irishman and only join the breaks if a big group got up the road.
Israeli champion Omer Goldstein did well to cover the opening moves before Froome took over and joined a strong group with eight other riders. The breakaway worked well together but the peloton never let the group get a gap of more than 2:30 minutes and as the riders reached the bottom of the final climb it all came back together again.
The ISN riders did a great job of positioning Martin near the front and he had no problems following the fast pace set by the teams of the other GC riders. On the steep section of the climb, race leader Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) upped the pace with only Martin and one other rider being able to follow. Towards the top, Martin lost a bit of terrain but he didn’t give up and started on the downhill only a handful of seconds behind the two leading riders.
On the descent, Martin was joined by Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) and the duo looked sure to make it back to the front group. Unfortunately, a late crash ruined Martin’s chances of success on the day. Luckily, he was able to get back up and finish the stage but he’s now 4:01 minutes down in the GC before the tomorrow’s final day of racing. Bilbao won the stage, while Yates still leads overall.
Chris Froome: “I think this was the first time I have been in a breakaway since the Giro d’Italia of 2018. I really enjoyed being up there today, testing the legs a bit. Especially as the break went away on a quite hard section after a bunch of attacks. It was a shame that we never got much of a gap but it was still a good experience to be up there again. I can feel that the condition is slowly improving and I’m pretty happy with how the legs are feeling.”