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Bryan Coquard (Team Cofidis) upset the favourites to win stage four of the Tour Down Under in Willunga. Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) lost his KOM leaders jersey but retained his leader’s ochre jersey ahead of tomorrow’s finale around Mount Lofty. Coquard was 20 metres ahead of Stage 1 winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First-EasyPost) with Hugo Page (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) in third place at the conclusion of the wind swept stage. The 49th win of Coquard’s career was his first at WorldTour level and first for France at the Tour Down Under since Stéphane Bergès in 2000.
“I wait ten years for this win. I am very proud and happy for this win,” Coquard said after crossing the line. “I win a lot of lot of races but never at the WorldTour. I am very, very happy.”
Coquard hit out early on the long drag in Willunga, timing his run to perfection, raising his hands to head in disbelief and celebration. Vine, who looked assured throughout the stage, will start the final stage of the race 15 second ahead of Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) and Simon Yates (Jayco-Alula). Asked about the stage, Vine stated “It was pretty stressful” but he is “looking forward to Lofty.” Tomorrow’s fifth and final stage, from Unley to Mount Lofty is a new finish for the race. Should Vine retain his lead at the conclusion of the 112km stage, he will become the ninth Australian winner of the race.
How it unfolded
The 130-rider strong peloton rolled out of the picturesque beachside town of Port Willunga with Jay Vine, the 19th Australian to wear the leaders jersey at the Tour Down Under, resplendent in ochre.
With the threat of early crosswinds, it was a tense start to proceedings on the familiar roads to the Tour Down Under. Albeit on a stage suited to the sprinters rather than the traditional Old Willunga Hill finish. Rolling through the vineyards of McLaren Vale on roads that the peloton would traverse in reverse later in the day, the peloton wasn’t letting any early breakaways get away.
With the early lap taking the peloton south, east, north, east, north – the ever changing directions of the course exposed the bunch to winds from almost all directions.
On his third attempt of the day, Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-EasyPost) forced the first…