|Conditions riders had to deal with today on the way to Argentan|
The day started out very quick as the race was plagued with rain and crosswinds. Team De Rijke-Shanks took the initiative and went to the front and blew the race apart. When I say the race started out quick, the first hour averaged 49 kilometers/hour, a pace that decimated the field and left only 20 riders in the front group, including three riders from Team Raleigh and two from De Rijke-Shanks, and split the race into three groups. Race leader Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek) was left out of the first group and was stuck in the first chasing group for the remainder of the day.
The first chasing group tried to bring the leading group back but they only got as close as 30 seconds before the gap began to grow. Alexander Blain, who started the stage around 30 seconds down on leader Silvestre, won two intermediate sprints from the front group, which knocked off six seconds overall. As the race entered Argentan and hit the finishing loops, riders were shelled off the front group as the pace picked up and the chasing peloton was in high gear. As the group crossed the line for the last lap, Eric Berthou (Raleigh) attacked and was quickly followed by Blain and the two gained a quick advantage. When it was all said and done, the Raleigh duo had 20 seconds on the front group. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23) won the sprint for 3rd from the rest of the chasers, moving himself up to 2nd (tied with Tom Scully) on G.C. The big chasing pack that included Silvestre came in at 47 seconds.
Props need to be given to Dylan van Baarle, Stefan Küng and Magnus Cort Nielsen as they were the only U23 riders able to stay with the leading group to the finish today. Even more so with Nielsen as he was involved in the big high-speed crash yesterday and his bike was snapped in half.
The race is far from over as the next two stages will offer more rain and crosswinds, especially stage 5 which heads along the sea coast.
Stage Results (Results in Full)
- 1. Alexander Blain (Raleigh)
- 2. Eric Berthou (Raleigh)
- 3. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23) +20
- 4. Sergey Nikolaev (Itera-Katusha) s.t.
- 5. Tino Thömel (NSP-Ghost) s.t.
- 6. Tom Scully (Raleigh) s.t.
- 8. Jesper Hansen (CULT Energy) s.t.
- 11. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development) s.t.
- 13. Stefan Küng (BMC U23) s.t.
- 15. Magnus Cort Nielsen (CULT Energy) +23
Overall G.C. (Results in Full)
- 1. Alexander Blain (Raleigh) 12h26'17"
- 2. Thomas Scully (Raleigh) +13
- 3. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23) s.t.
- 4. Jesper Hansen (CULT Energy) +27
- 7. Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek) +37
- 9. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas) +44
- 10. Stefan Küng (BMC U23) +45
- 11. Ivar Slik (Rabobank Development) +47
- 12. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development) +51
- 13. Nick van der Lijke (Rabobank Development) +57