Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) has won the fourth stage of the 2014 Eneco Tour.
The Frenchman steered clear of a crash in the run-in that has put paid to the title defence of stage two winner, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step), who collided with crowd barriers and has been hospitalised.
In a statement, the Czech rider’s team confirmed that Stybar had been taken to the Hartziekenhuis Roselare hospital, where he will be spend the night under observation after examination by medics.
“Results of the examination showed deep wounds on the upper and lower lip, as well as broken teeth,” a team spokesman said. “He had radiological examinations, as well as scans, which showed no fractures or cerebral lesions. ”
Stybar’s loss was Bouhanni’s gain, with the Frenchman claiming another win in the UCI WorldTour after bagging a hat-trick at the Giro d’Italia and the opening stage of Paris-Nice.
He said: “I produced my effort 200 metres from the line and headwind, and resisted the return of Mezgec. I’m using this race as preparation for the Vuelta, but I really wanted to win today. If I win a stage in Spain, I will be satisfied.”
Giant-Shimano’s Luka Mezgec, another exciting talent in an ever-expanding roster of young sprinters at the Dutch squad, finished second, while Trek’s Giacomo Nizzolo was third.
Stybar was engulfed in the aftermath of a crash involving opening stage winner, Andrea Guardini (Astana), and Janse van Rensburg (Giant-Shimano). The defending champion was forced against the barriers as the bunch attempted to avoid the ensuing chaos.
Lars Boom (Belkin), Eneco Tour winner in 2012, moves up to second after avoiding the remnants of the collision. The Dutchman, winner of the cobbled fifth stage of this year’s Tour de France, had ridden well enough in the stage four time trial to claim the leader’s jersey. Stybar’s enforced withdrawal now leaves Boom well positioned to launch a bid for overall victory with three stages remaining.
Stage four was notable also for two individual attempts at a solo victory. Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) found himself the last remaining survivor of an early five-man breakaway with much of the stage still to ride but carried on regardless, finally bowing to the inevitable as the peloton prepared for the first of two laps of a finishing circuit.
Several riders took this as a cue to launch attacks of their own, with Ag2r-La Mondiale, riding high after a courageous Tour de France campaign that ended with a podium finish for Jean-Christophe Péraud, and Daniel Oss (BMC Racing), the chief instigators. Oss looked like the man most likely for some time, but was recaptured just six kilometres from the finish, effectively clearing the way for a bunch finish.
Tomorrow’s 162.5km fifth stage, which starts and finishes in Geraardsbergen, will take the riders across a demanding parcours that features many of the signature climbs of Tours of Flanders, past and present.
Eneco Tour 2014: stage four – result
1) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – FDJ.fr – 4.13.59
2) Luka Mezgec (SLO) – Giant-Shimano – ST
3) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek
4) Michael Van Staeyen (BEL) – Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
5) Jens Debusschere (BEL) – Lotto Belisol
6) Andrea Guardini (ITA) – Astana
7) Tyler Farrar (USA) – Garmin-Sharp
8) Yohaan Gene (FRA) – Europcar
9) Roy Jans (BEL) – Wanty-Groupe Gober
10) Nikolay Trusov (RUS) – Tinkoff-Saxo
1) Lars Boom (NED) – Belkin – 12.45.53
2) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Giant-Shimano +4″
3) Manuel Quinziato (ITA) – BMC Racing – ST
4) Andriy Grivko (UKR) – Astana +7″
5) Zdenek Stybar (CZE) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +9″
6) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +14″
7) Sep Vanmarcke (NED) – Belkin +17″
8) Niki Terpstra (BEL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +18″
9) Kristijan Korken (SLO) – Cannondale +19″
10) Jens Keukeleire (BEL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +21″