Von Hoff wins 4th stage of Tour Down Under
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Steele Von Hoff won Friday’s fourth state of the Tour Down Under while Australian compatriots Rohan Dennis and Tour de France-winner Cadel Evans avoided a crash near the finish to retain first and second place on general classification.
The crash a few hundred meters from the finish split the field and left seven riders in contention for stage honors. Von Hoff outsprinted South Africa’s Daryle Impley to take the stage win but his personal victory wasn’t enough to upset overall tour standings after four of six stages.
Dennis retained the tour leader’s jersey and first place on general classification, seven seconds of Evans, his teammate in the United States-based Team BMC, who is riding in his last World Tour event.
Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands is third overall, nine seconds behind Dennis and four seconds ahead of Impey who improved his standing with his second place finish and time bonuses.
Australia’s Richie Porte and Britain’s Ian Stannard, teammates on Britain’s Team Sky, were among riders caught up in the crash which happened as the field headed towards a downhill finish on the 144.5-kilometer (89.8-mile) stage from the Adelaide suburb of Glenelg to Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills.
Von Hoff was able to skirt the crash to claim an impressive stage win, attributing his win to the work of teammate Jack Bobridge, who led the tour after the first stage on Tuesday.
“Jack Bobridge was looking after me and just saying ‘be patient, be patient’,” Von Hoff said. “I know these roads like the back of my hand.
“I managed to find Wouter Wippet’s wheel and just sat on it until those guys got a little bit tired and went.”
Friday’s stage featured two clear breakaways.
Five riders, including Bobridge and Australians Nathan Haas and Michael Hepburn featured in the first break which enjoyed a peak lead of around 2-1/2 minutes but which was caught soon after half distance.
The second break, featuring Ruslan Tleubayev of Kazakhstan, Maxim Belkov of Russia and Pieter Serry of Belgium was more short-lived, leaving the peloton together nearing the difficult downhill finish.
Michael Schar of the BMC team was close to the crash.
“The problem was we had a downhill sprint so the speed was very, very fast and some guys just took too much risk and they went down,” he said.
“I was right by Cadel and we tried to pull back and were just hoping we didn’t go down and luckily we stayed upright.”