Although there remain two more stages to go to cement the final GC, according to Race Leader Michal Kaněra today’s fourth stage was crucial to gain back lost time as well as build a healthy buffer, just in case.
And that exactly happened. He didn’t wait for a second to watch his opponents how the go about their business. Instead Kaněra pushed hard from the word go to make sure he would enter the final two days of racing with the lead intact.
“I just hope, no misfortune occurs to me. I am not anxious, but I would love to make it as smooth as possible. I rely on my support crew, but I ought to be watchful also. This races is so specific, there barely any parallels to other races” said the Czech rider.
Arnaud Allemand finished second on the stage, five minutes in arrears, despite his attempts to limit the losses or keep up with the very strong Kaněra. Nothing doing. The Czech rider meant business again.
The same was true for Llordella. Though he had good chances to lower the losses on downhill sections, ether were as many opportunities, also given the shortness of the stage at 52 km.
“I knew Kaněra was very strong, no doubt about that, but look I have been in scenarios were my chances were minimal… and made it ultimately.” said the Spaniard before the start of the stage.
He came in third at the end of the day, happy to have made it through without mechanical and any other mishaps. Which can’t be said for plenty of others that didn’t cope as well with those numerous gnarly rock garden-like sections that littered the parcours.
Melanie Spath delivered a neat performance again, and in her solo woman category there isn’t really anyone could threaten her commanding GC position.
Despite her road background, Spath’s off-road skills are nothing but a master class. Ivone Kraft, right behind her, is no slouch either, particularly downhill, but Spath’s uphill prowess is hard to beat in this field.
Chasing Spath isn’t Kraft’s only problem, who admitted a shoulder injury is hampering her.
“My sore shoulder isn’t getting any better. My legs are coming around, but I am concerned about the shoulder,” explained Kraft.
In the team competition the field started with one highly-ranked team down: for team Eurobike /Vimar Specialized with Kaiser and Miroslaw, who’d faced a seemingly neverending series of disasters. After 3 days struggling with numerous flats, a snapped chain and a number of issues, there was no point in moving on.
This didn’t lessen the competitive spirit of the field, quite the opposite. Team Romet did all in their power to make sure their GC place isn’t threatened. Sadly though they could deliver the performance they did in the previous stages, as Dominik Grządziel had a nasty crash on one of the descents.
Team MTB Arnheim kept their steadiness and maintain their margin over opponents. After yesterday success of the Polish team consisting of Urbaniak and Czerniak, meant to prove today that their performance wasn’t a one-off, their result of today will make for a thrilling finale over the final two stages. Behind the Polish team Team MTB Arnheim scored second followed by Team Pronghorn.