The right mix for Lutsenko
June 2 nd 2021 - 16:14
Whether as a puncher, time-trial specialist or general tough cookie, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) displayed the full array of his qualities to win the 4th stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, on a 16.4-km time-trial over rolling terrain between Firminy and Roche-La-Molière. Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) started much better, but the Kazakh made the difference over the more difficult second part of the route to win, with a lead of 8’’ over his team-mate Izagirre, who has put himself in an excellent position for the challenges to be tackled in the mountains this weekend. Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) also impressed, only conceding 23’’ at the finish, as did Thomas. The Austrian keeps hold of the Yellow and Blue Jersey by just one second!
A rapid sequence of sturdy time-trialists set out from Firminy, with Portuguese champion against the clock Ivo Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) kicking off proceedings at the beginning of the afternoon. He was soon followed by the Czech Republic champion Josef Cerny (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and then German champion Tony Martin (Jumbo-Visma), who produced a fine time to beat: 22’35’’, i.e., an average speed of 43.572 km/h over rolling terrain. However, he was soon ousted thanks to a surprising performance from Harry Sweeny (Lotto Soudal), who beat him by 7’’ at the finishing line.
Porte stronger than McNulty
The young Australian’s time withstood the assault from Chad Haga (Team DSM), but the climbing and time-trialist qualities of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) made a big difference on the second part of the route. The Danish rider led Sweeny by 15’’ at the intermediate check point (after 7.5 km) and improved his advantage to 35’’ at the finish, after 16.4 km gobbled up at an average speed of 44.966 km/h (with a time of 21’53’’). Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) started even better, leading by 4 seconds after 7.5 km, but the young American fell short of the best time by that point at the finish by 3 seconds.
The intensity grew as the pretenders for the general classification got to grips with the stage, in particular Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers), already the winner of a time-trial on the Dauphiné in 2017, who started extremely well, posting an intermediate time of 9’19’’, just 3 seconds better than McNulty. The Australian continued his effort and took the lead at the finishing line, thanks to a time of 21’51’’. He was the first rider on the day to exceed the bar of 45 km/h average speed; 45.034 km/h to be precise.
Lutsenko takes off and Pöstlberger impresses
Basque rider Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech) moved ahead of him with a time of 21’44’’ (at an average speed of 45.276 km/h), thanks to a very fast performance on the second part of the stage. Trailing Porte by 9’’ at the intermediate check point, in the end he finished 7’’ ahead of him. After starting like a cannonball, Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) slipped into 2nd place on completion of the stage, with a time of 21’48’’.
Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) finished even stronger than his team-mate Izagirre: 21'36'' (at an average speed of 45.556 km/h). Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) produced the best start, leading Lutsenko by 9’’ after 7.5 km, but the Welshman was not able to keep this pace up over the full distance, finishing with a time of 21’59’’, 23’’ behind his Astana rival. However, Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) surprised everyone by taking 9th place, also 23’’ behind the stage winner. The Austrian keeps hold of his Yellow and Blue Jersey thanks to a lead of just one second over Lutsenko!