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Tour de Yorkshire 2018: Rossetto takes stage after 120km alone; Van Avermaet wins overall

Joe Robinson
6 May 2018

Stephane Rossetto wins Stage 4 of the Tour de Yorkshire; Van Avermaet takes the General Classification

Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) proved why cycling is a beautiful sport after winning a tough stage 4 from Halifax to Leeds after riding solo for over 120km. The Frenchman attacked on the insidiously steep Cote de Park Rash after 77km and never looked back.

Rossetto crossed the line alone, with a wry smile, and deservedly so after having been so brave earlier in the day. Behind in the race for second, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) outsprinted Ian Bibby (JLT Condor).

In the race for General Classification, it was BMC Racing that outsmarted Astana to allow Van Avermaet to snatch the overall win from the grasps of Magnus Cort Nielsen.

By putting Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) in the day's early break, BMC played a tactical masterclass forcing Astana to do all of the chasing. This inevitably saw the men in baby blue fade and allowed Van Avermaet and his men to distance a isolated Cort Nielsen. 

With Nielsen falling to wayside, Eduardo Prades (Euskadi-Murias) and defending champion Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) finished second and third respectively.

What happened?

Stage 4 was arguably the hardest stage of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire with a 189.5km route from Halifax to Leeds with six classified climbs en route and many more unclassified along the way.

A relatively large and handy group escaped including the like of Owain Doull (Team Sky), Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) and Tom Pidcock (Team GB). They gained a comfortable gap over the peloton which was marshalled and paced by Astana in aid of race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen. 

Ahead, the break contested the first three classified climbs of the day with Max Steadman (Canyon-Eisberg) taking the lion's share of the points on offer.

After a while Steadman along with Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) nipped off of the front looking for some glory. Steadman soon found himself dropped by Rossetto who set off on a solo adventure. The young Brit found himself in no-mans land between the leader and the remaining break.

The peloton hit the base of Park Rash, a frighteningly steep climb that reached 20 per cent gradients on multiple occasions. The break struggle in its ascent, especially Tom Baylis (One Pro Cycling) and Gabriel Cullaigh (Team GB). Meanwhile back in the bunch, Laurens De Vreese (Astana) grinded the group to its summit some seven minutes behind Rossetto.

A man on a mission, the Cofidis man extended his lead over the main group to almost nine minutes which was impressive although unlikely to stick.

Rossetto seemed to be on a one in a million day, snapping up the remaining King of the Mountains points to secure the overall competition. 

While the solo rider ahead raced alone, the race behind became an intriguing one with members of the breakaway threatening the overall race lead of Cort Nielsen.

Among the poursuivants, Bryan Couquard (Vital Concept) hit out with Doull in attempt to bridge to stage leader Rossetto yet Coquard found himself by the surging peloton on the final climb of the day, Cote de Otley Chevin.

Eddie Dunbar (Aqua Blue Sport) was next to roll the dice distancing the peloton as he entered into the final 500m of the climb. Behind, splinters occurred with Cort Nielsen distanced from rival Van Avermaet who was surrounded by three teammates.

The final intermediate sprint was one by Rossetto, obviously, but saw Van Avermaet attack for bonus seconds which he grabbed taking him closer to Cort Nielsen. 

The race entered the final 10km with Rossetto still in the lead by 90 seconds and Van Avermaet seemingly racing to overall victory.