First year pro John Degenkolb of HTC-Highroad this afternoon won his second stage of this year's Criterium du Dauphiné, the 22-year-old German edging out Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen to win a hard-fought bunch sprint in Mâcon with Saxo Bank-SunGard's JJ Haedo third. Bradley Wiggins came home safely in the bunch and retains the overall lead.
Garmin-Cervelo had done much of the work today in towing the peloton along in pursuit of two escapees, Jeremy Roy of FDJ and the Lampre-ISD rider, Adriano Malori, as they looked to set up Tyler Farrar for the only opportunity of a bunch sprint in this year’s race.
The last time the American led the peloton home was during the Giro d’Italia as he accompanied the Leopard Trek team over the line in Livorno to pay tribute to his close friend Wouter Weylandt, killed 24 hours earlier – and exactly a month ago today – in a crash on Stage 3 of that race.
First Garmin-Cervelo’s Johan Van Summeren, winner of Paris-Roubaix, then Britain’s Dan Lloyd, followed by David Zabriskie, took turns on the front to keep the pace high and slowly reel in the break.
Behind them, Team Sky were keeping yellow jersey Wiggins safely out of trouble while also ensuring that Boasson Hagen, marked out by his yellow shoes, maintained his position ahead of the anticipated sprint finish.
Roy, winner of a stage in Paris-Nice two years ago, had attacked just 4km into today’s 173.5km stage from La Motte-Servolex. Malori, perhaps best remembered as lanterne rouge in last year’s Tour de Franec, joined him shortly afterwards.
At one point, the pair had established a lead of more than four minutes over the peloton, but that had been halved by the time the race entered the closing 20km and the catch was made with 2km still to race after teams including Astana and HTC-Highroad had taken up pace-setting duties at the front of the bunch.
Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas led the peloton going under the flamme rouge as he sought to position Boasson Hagen for the sprint, and the Norwegian appeared to have timed his run for the line perfectly until Degenkolb, winner of Tuesday's Stage 2 in Lyon, again showed his strength and powered past in the closing metres.
Farrar himself had still been well positioned near the front of the bunch as the race entered the finale, but was unable to impose himself when it came to the sprint and finished in sixth position.
The British team’s defence of Wiggins’ overall lead now starts in earnest as the race heads up into the mountains for the concluding three stages which all feature summit finishes. The first of those comes tomorrow at Les Gets following a 210km stage that starts in Parc des Oiseaux - Villars-les-Dombes.
Criterium du Dauphiné Stage 4 Result 1 DEGENKOLB John HTC - HIGHROAD 4h 15' 41" 2 HAGEN Edvald Boasson SKY PROCYCLING All at same time 3 HAEDO Juan Jose SAXO BANK SUNGARD 4 VAITKUS Tomas ASTANA 5 BONNET William FDJ 6 FARRAR Tyler GARMIN - CERVELO 7 BANDIERA Marco QUICK STEP 8 DUMOULIN Samuel COFIDIS 9 LIGTHART Pim VACANSOLEIL-DCM 10 DE HAES Kenny OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO 11 CHAVANEL Sébastien EUROPCAR 12 BOLE Grega LAMPRE - ISD 13 RUIJGH Rob VACANSOLEIL-DCM 14 MURPHY John BMC RACING 15 WEGMANN Fabian LEOPARD-TREK 16 LEMOINE Cyril SAUR-SOJASUN 17 HINAULT Sébastien AG2R LA MONDIALE 18 KOREN Kristjan LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE 19 DUQUE Leonardo COFIDIS 20 PATERSKI Maciej LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE Criterium du Dauphiné Overall Standings after Stage 4 1 WIGGINS Bradley SKY PROCYCLING 12h 57' 18" 2 EVANS Cadel BMC RACING + 01' 11" 3 BRAJKOVIC Janez RADIOSHACK + 01' 21" 4 VINOKOUROV Alexandre ASTANA + 01' 56" 5 COSTA Rui MOVISTAR + 02' 12" 6 THOMAS Geraint SKY PROCYCLING + 02' 25" 7 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen OMEGA PHARMA - LOTTO + 02' 28" 8 RIBLON Christophe AG2R LA MONDIALE + 02' 45" 9 HERMANS Ben RADIOSHACK + 02' 46" 10 COPPEL Jérôme SAUR-SOJASUN + 02' 52"
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.