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Tim Merlier dominated stage 4 in Nitra, Soudal – Quick-Step achieved fourth win in a row

Tim Merlier dominated stage 4 in Nitra, Soudal – Quick-Step achieved fourth win in a row

16.9.2023, 14:50 | News | mediálny tím pretekov
Once again, the rider of Belgian team was the fastest in the mass sprint, just like in the second stage. Soudal – Quick-Step has thus far won all the stages in the 67th edition of Tour of Slovakia. Rémi Cavagna remained the leader of the race.
The day after the royal stage, a simpler race came up. It started in Prievidza near the Magura Hotel and ended in Nitra. On the 149 kilometer long route, riders had to pass three categorized climbs and the same number of intermediate sprints. Ascents Bojnický kopec, Jankov vŕšok and even Skýcov were not too difficult and were located far from the finish line, so a mass sprint of the bunch was expected in the final.
Immediately after the start of the stage, the cyclists began to ascend Bojnický kopec. The peloton reached the top and Mirco Maestri (EOLO - Kometa) collected all the points. Riders in the bunch started attacking right from the top, during the descent. Several cyclists tried their luck, but the Belgian team Soudal – Quick-Step caught all attempts. It was only before the second mountain premium that they allowed three cyclists to jump away, and then gave them a lead of three minutes.
Michael Konczer (Hrinkow Advarics) and Daniel Turek (ATT Investments) got into the breakaway of the day, and the Slovak team RRK Group - Pierre Baugette - Benzinol represented by Tomáš Kalojíros was also at the front. Czech cyclist Turek won the mountain sprint on Jankov vŕšok. The leading trio lasted in the breakaway until summit Skýcov, which was followed by the intermediate sprint in Bánovce nad Bebravou. Kalojíros won it and Turk was the first to climb Skýcov.
After categorized climb Skýcov, it was already decided that Milan Vader (Jumbo – Visma) is the King of the Mountains of the 67th edition of Tour of Slovakia. His team together with Groupama – FDJ divided the peloton into three parts in Skýcov, and even Rémi Cavagna (Soudal – Quick-Step) in the yellow jersey also dropped from the front. However, the leader of the race returned shortly after the premie to the first part of the peloton, which caught the breakaway of the day.
 
All the owners of the most valuable jerseys except for Colby Simmons (Jumbo – Visma) in a white jersey were at the front.  The best U23 rider was in the second group, whose loss at times was up to 45 seconds. There was another group behind them as well. At last, the second part of the bunch returned to the front of the race.
It was at that moment that Javier Serrano Rodriguez (EOLO - Kometa) and Alessandro Tonelli (Green Project - Bardiani CSF) attacked and gained up to 30 seconds on the peloton. Their breakaway lasted ten kilometres, then Tonelli went solo, dropped Serrano Rodriguez and went alone on for another ten kilometres. However, before entering Nitra, the peloton led by Soudal – Quick-Step caught him. Before the last intermediate sprint, Bruno Armirail (Groupama – FDJ) also attacked, but without success.
The final intermediate sprint was located in Nitra on the first crossing of the finish line. It was won by Milan Vader (Jumbo – Visma), who also won another intermediate sprint in Topoľčianky. After that, cyclists had last five kilometers ahead of them. Rémi Cavagna (Soudal – Quick-Step) in yellow then worked for Tim Merlier at the front of the peloton. The sprinter of Soudal – Quick-Step team showed his speed in full glory in the final sprint and beat the second Cees Bol (Astana – Qazaqstan) by a bicycle length. Luca Colnaghi (Green Project - Bardiani CSF) finished third.

Rémi Cavagna (Soudal – Quick-Step) finished the stage within the peloton and continues to lead the provisional classification with a generous advantage. He remained the leader of the points competition, but Tim Merlier (Soudal – Quick-Step) in second place was now losing only four points.  Colby Simmons (Jumbo – Visma) remained the best U23 rider, Lukáš Kubiš (Dukla Banská Bystrica) kept the jersey for the best Slovak rider. The most combative rider of the stage was Tomáš Kalojíros (RRK Group - Pierre Baugette – Benzinol).
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