Yuri Trofimov (Katusha) won the 168-kilometer fourth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday.
Trofimov attacked on the final climb of the Col de Manse, a Cat. 2 ascent that measured 9.6km with an average gradient of 5.2 percent. A 12km descent into Gap followed, and Trofimov plunged down the mountain and held off his chasers to claim the victory.
“I can’t believe it,” said Trofimov. “I know this climb since the last Tour de France, I was already in the breakaway group. “I started off gently, to save my legs, and then I literally went for it. Now I want to win a stage on the Tour de France.”
Gustav Larsson (IAM Cycling) finished 23 seconds back in second, while Pim Ligthart (Lotto-Belisol) was another 2 seconds adrift and placed third.
Chris Froome (Sky) remains the overall race leader, holding a 12-second advantage over Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and a 21-second bubble over Wilco Kelderman (Belkin).
“The breakaway wasn’t really dangerous. We mainly wanted to control it and didn’t take any risks in the final descent,” he explained. “The team did great work, I had three riders with me until the line.”
Trofimov attacked the peloton on the slopes of the Col de Manse and quickly put himself at the front of the race. With a chase group following him, Trofimov maintained a fast pace as he climbed toward the sky. He reached the summit more than 30 seconds ahead of everyone else.
The chase group became strung out all over the road on the fast and technical descent, which featured cracked roads. Race organizers, according to the TV broadcast, issued a warning about the conditions on the downhill road into Gap.
But the conditions did not slow down Trofimov, who let gravity do most of the work as he maneuvered his bike at high speed down the mountain. A three-man group consisting of Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) formed between the peloton and the primary chasers, and the trio stayed around 2 minutes behind the Russian. The switchbacks made it difficult to get much closer than that.
The peloton, meanwhile, made no real effort to bring the leaders back. It wasn’t worth the risk for any of the GC men on the descent that required expert bike handling and descending skills.
Interestingly, Trofimov chose to ride with his jersey fully unzipped, and it was flapping in the wind behind him. When he crossed the finish line, he neglected to zip it back up and display the team’s sponsor logos for the cameras, as is customary.
The race resumes with Thursday’s stage 5, a 190km journey from Sisteron to La Mure that features six categorized climbs.