Jumbo-Visma had known for months that the final of the fourth stage of the Tour de France was suitable for a coup. The riders executed the plan perfectly on Tuesday, so that Wout van Aert in his yellow jersey soloed to a very nice stage victory.
When Jumbo-Visma team leader Grischa Niermann explored the roads between Dunkirk and Calais on his own three months ago, one thought first came to mind: we could provide a similar scenario here as in Paris-Nice.
At the beginning of March, the Dutch formation placed a rare power grab in the opening stage of the French WorldTour race by putting the entire team in the lead on a short climb just before the finish. It ensured that teammates Van Aert, Primoz Roglic and Christophe Laporte drove away together and crossed the finish line hand in hand.
In the largest cycling race in the world, Jumbo-Visma managed to perform almost the same on Tuesday. Steven Kruijswijk, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Tiesj Benoot rode so fast in the run-up to and on the Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez – the 1 kilometer long final climb of the fourth Tour stage – that the entire peloton exploded. Just before the top, only Van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard and INEOS Grenadiers rider Adam Yates were still in Benoot’s wheel, after which Van Aert continued alone and took the stage victory.
“It was indeed very similar to what we did in Paris-Nice,” said Benoot with a big smile. “And that made it twice as difficult today. Everyone in the peloton expected us to try something on the final climb, because they saw what we can do four months ago. Very special that we succeeded.”
Van Hooydonck: “It was a planned action. We study the Tour course down to the last detail every year. We knew we could do a few things today.”
Wout van Aert celebrated his stage victory with his team.
Jumbo-Visma hoped for time gain for Roglic and Vingegaard
Sports directors Niermann, Frans Maassen and Arthur van Dongen decided on Monday evening that Jumbo-Visma would set up an attack on the Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez.
“The plan was to cause a lot of damage on the climb, and then see what the situation was like at the top,” said Maassen. “We had thought that maybe a group of twenty to thirty riders would be able to pull away, but Wout was stronger than everyone.”
In the perfect scenario, leaders Roglic and Vingegaard could have kept the wheel of Van Aert and thus already have some time on their competitors for the general classification. “I could almost follow Wout, it would have been nice if I had been there,” said Vingegaard. “But of course we are very happy with Wout’s victory.”
For Van Aert, the stage win was a reward for a very strong Tour start, after three consecutive second places in the first three stages. “Very special, Wout can do anything”, says Niermann. “He was terribly disappointed that he had not won three times. You saw today how eager he was to win a stage as well.”
Van Aert called his victory in Calais one of the best of his career. “We had already circled this stage long before the Tour. To win solo in yellow is very special. This beautiful jersey gives me wings, it really felt like I was flying in the final.”
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