Avanti Racing Team s Patrick Bevin narrowly beat ORICA-GreenEDGE s star sprinter and race leader Caleb Ewan today, in a hot and humid 207km stage. The versatile Kiwi s win follows recent stage victories at the Herald Sun Tour and Tour de Taiwan, in which he also won the Points classification and placed second overall in the KOM classification. Ewan retained his overall race lead and the yellow jersey.
I knew looking at the stage that the (distance) would play into my favour said Bevin after the stage. Outright, (Ewan) is extremely quick, but I was hoping that the distance and four days (raced so far) would have added up a bit. I ve got one thing going for me on a sprint like this I ve got resilience and the ability to hold that power and I was just coming back through pretty quick.
An energetic Taekwondo demonstration before the race start in Muju which was recently awarded the 2017 World Taekwondo Championships may have caused some rider s minds to wander to the fight that lay ahead. With 207 kilometres of racing, and more than 30 riders within half a minute of the overall lead, a long and potentially combative day in the saddle awaited.
As riders have quickly learnt this week, flagfall in Korea means attack! . After resisting countless breakaway attempts, the peloton eventually relented and permitted a break of five riders Didier Alonso (Nippo Vini Fantini), Gong Hyosuk (KSPO), Jeong Cheunggyo (Korail Cycling Team), Hamid Beykkhorzimi (Pishgaman Giant Team) and Kim Dohyoung (Seoul Cycling Team) to escape and begin work on building a sizeable lead.
After 50km of racing, the quintet had extended its advantage over the peloton to eight minutes. Beykkhorzimi took the spoils from both KOM climbs (at 60.1km and 108.9km, respectively) to climb into first on the overall KOM classification, while Jeong took out the day s intermediate sprint that neatly bisected the two summits.
Back down the road, the Oceanic teams ORICA-GreenEDGE, Drapac Pro Cycling and Avanti Racing Team had been keeping the leaders on a remarkably loose leash, but it was still a leash. In hot, humid and windy conditions, the peloton quickly cut the break s lead by half.
The leaders kept pushing to the finish but their efforts were unable to resist the methodical chase from behind, and they were finally caught eight kilometres from the finish. Tightly-controlled sprint trains from ORICA-GreenEDGE and Drapac led through the final right-hander with 600m to go but Avanti s Neil van der Ploeg found the perfect spot to deposit teammate Bevin, whose lunging sprint to the line secured him the narrowest of wins.
It wasn t a surprise revealed Ewan, acknowledging Bevin was already on his radar. I know he s quick from all of those results this year and last year, and obviously I ve sprinted against him in the past few stages. I always knew he was going to be a threat but, you know, he was quicker than me today and there was nothing I could do. I was sprinting as fast as I could and he came around.
With a category three KOM a mere five kilometres from the finish, Thursday s 175.0km stage five from Yeosu to Gangjin represents a genuine threat to race leaders who are not in their best climbing form. Look to Drapac to recover from its brief rut and for Park Sungbaek s KSPO team and every other Korean team, for that matter to go on the attack. The stage commences at 10:00KST (01:00GMT).
Andrew Christie-Johnston (Avanti Racing Team Manager)
Paddy is a quality guy. He s a sprinter, but he s a climber as well. For us to win against the likes of Caleb Ewan is pretty impressive and hopefully a lot of WorldTour teams start looking at Paddy Bevin. I think he most definitely will be next (to ride WorldTour level). I ll tell you now, there s a few teams already talking to him before we got here. We knew if he got some results here that hopefully that ll fix it. Andy (Andrew) McQuaid s his manager so we ll make the phone call tonight and tell him to get busy.
Hamid Beykkhormizi (Pishgman Giant Team)
(through translator) Last night we were speaking about the KOM for today and we finally had the chance to attack. Tomorrow, we also are planning to attack and we will make the race hard. We re looking to keep the KOM jersey.
LEADERBOARD Race Leader (Yellow jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) Points Leader (Sky Blue jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) King of the Mountains Leader (Polka-Dot jersey): Hamid Beykkhormizi (Pishgaman Giant Team) Best Young Rider (White jersey): Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE)
Best Team: Avanti Racing Team
STAGE 4 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FOUR