The Groupama-FDJ’s lead-out train showed some improvement today on stage 4 of the Tour Down Under. Marc Sarreau’s ninth place on the finish line did not do justice to the great team performance displayed in the last two hours of racing. After getting his second top-10 of the week in a sprint won by Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Marc Sarreau now looks forward to his last opportunity on Saturday’s stage.
As the Tour Down Under is often won within seconds, Mitchelton-Scott could not let a breakaway take the two intermediate sprints of the day, both located in the first 40 kilometers of the stage. Therefore, it was only after an hour of racing that the race’s King Of the Mountains Joey Rosskopf (CCC) could take the lead with James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Jorge Arcas and Sergio Samitier (Movistar). The American rider could extend his lead in the mountain classification while the bunch, both vigilant and tense on long exposed roads, left no hope whatsoever to the day’s breakaway.
“We can’t have any regrets, the job was very well done”, Jussi Veikkanen
“We were constantly up there in the second half of the race,” said Jussi Veikkanen. “Mitchelton-Scott, Deceuninck-Quick Step or even Ineos tried to create some echelons. The wind was blowing on the good side but was not strong enough and it did not provoke the big damage that we could expect. Still our guys were attentive throughout the whole race, it was good to see.” With about 30 kilometers to go, the breakaway was reeled in, and in the last ten kilometers, the team moved up its lead-out train to the front and never left the first positions until the home straight.
“I don’t think we can have any regrets,” said Jussi. “The work was very well done by all the team members. Until the very end, we were always well placed and attentive. In the final, Marc Sarreau found himself a little too early in front, with Jacopo Guarnieri leaving him at 300-350 meters, just before the right turn. Marc lost some speed there and was then overtaken by other guys, coming from behind with a better trajectory and more speed. We’re still setting things up, but it was a great job from Micka, Miles, Fabian and Jacopo. There is nothing to complain about. Obviously, we always hope to be higher in the results sheet but that’s how sprinting is.”
Marc Sarreau could have another and last shot tomorrow at Victor Harbor but it will not be an easy task once again. “We already did this finish several times on the Tour Down Under, the last 2-3 kilometers are quite technical, says Jussi. There is also a second category climb twenty kilometers from the finish and it can do some damages. We hope that Marc will be there in the sprint with his teammates, but before that, we will have to go through this climb. It’s a tough one. Bruno and Kilian have recognized it and will have the opportunity to say a few words about it to the others.”