Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) cut through the fog to win stage 4 of the Tour of Alberta on Saturday.
Evans took the flowers from a five-man break, escapees from a nine-man group that took off with 150km to go in the chilly, up-and-down Black Diamond-Foothills stage.
“In terms of terrain it wasn’t so difficult, compared to a Tour de France mountain stage, but the most difficult thing was actually the cold,” said Evans. “We’ve had great weather, then you go to 12 degrees and it’s a bit of a shock to the system.”
Going into the final 10km of the 169km stage the quintet — Evans, Ben Day (UnitedHealthcare), Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano), Antoine Duchesne (Canadian National), and Tom Jelte Slagter (Belkin) — had slightly more than a minute on erstwhile break-mates Ryan Roth (Champion System), Clay Murfet (SmartStop-Mountain Khakis), Scott Zwizanski (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), and Nic Hamilton (Jelly Belly).
The peloton with race leader Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) was at 12 minutes, leaving the lead quintet free to battle for the stage win.
In the final 3km the five leaders began looking each other over, seeking signs of weakness.
“Being in the final in five it’s a little game of luck,” said Evans. “You have to look at who’s going well. I knew how fast Slagter was but didn’t know about the Argos rider.”
Day was first to jump with 2km to go, opening a solid gap, and the others were slow to react. They eventually organized behind Geschke, but the UnitedHealthcare rider had plenty of daylight going under the red kite.
Or so it seemed — Geschke led the chase that reeled Day in, and then Evans jumped on the left side of the finishing straight and took the stage. Geschke hung on for second with Slagter third.
“The final circuits were quite tough with the climb,” said Day. “It was nice to be in the final break. I hit them with two K to go but I couldn’t hold them with 200 meters left. Hell, not not even that much.”
Evans chalked up his victory to “patience and waiting it out for the end.”
“We collaborated really well as a group,” he said. “First of all in nine and then five toward the finish. It was good to keep the collaboration. In the end it was a little bit of timing in the last 500 meters.”
Zwizanski led the first chase in at 1:48 down. And just under 10 minutes after Evans hit the line, Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare) took the bunch sprint from the GC group.
Dennis remains atop the overall standings with Brent Bookwalter (BMC) second at 18 seconds and Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) third at 30 seconds.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from Alberta.