José Mendes takes 5th place in a close finale in Cles.
In a thrilling finale, when a leading trio just was caught on the last kilometer, the Portuguese Champion of BORA – hansgrohe sprints to the 5th place. Pascal Ackermann remains his red jersey for the best sprinter in the Tour of the Alps.
After two days where the route had to be changed due to snow, today’s 4th stage of the Tour of the Alps was raced as planned. The peloton had to cover 165 kilometers between Bolzano and Cles, including one intermediate sprint and two KOM’s.
Five riders left the peloton after about 20k, on a day where some expected a group would have a good chance to make it to the finish. But the main bunch controlled the gap carefully at around 4 minutes. Like yesterday, the break was no threat for Pascal Ackermann and his lead in the sprint classification. Pascal defended his jersey for another day, and also will wear the red jersey on tomorrow’s last stage.
On the ascent to the last climb of the day, the break split up completely, and only S. Pirazzi and K. Frankiny could stay in front of the first main bunch. This group was also heavily reduced, as D. Cataldo and T. Pinot tried to attack team Sky and the overall race leader. BORA – hansgrohe had Emanuel Buchmann and José Mendes in this group of favorites.
In the downhill, H. DuPont was able to close the gap to the leaders with a brave solo ride, while several riders came back to the main bunch. But the trio was caught just on the last kilometer. José Mendes was in a very good position and took on the sprint for BORA – hansgrohe. The Portuguese Champion crossed the line in 5th place in the end, as M. Montaguti took the stage win.
“In the beginning, we controlled every attack to protect Pascal’s jersey. Finally, when there was a group with no one dangerous for us, we concentrated on the finale climb. José was really strong today, he looked already very confident on the last climb. I am very happy with his result today, because he didn’t have the best season so far and it is good to see him back in good shape. Tomorrow we’ll again do everything to protect the red jersey from Pascal, if we succeed with that, I will be also a happy man tomorrow.” – Christian Pömer, sports director