Stage 4 of the Itzulia Basque Country was dominated by rain and withdrawals. The breakaway was formed after 30 km by 7 riders: Verona (MOV,7), Williams (TMB,17), Monfort (LTS,66), Grmay (MTS,97), De Marchi (CPT,124), Storer (SUN,156) and Iturria (EUS,194). The peloton didn’t let them go far and the maximum gap they reached was 3’52”.
With the rain falling and the gap going down, the peloton neutralized the two last escapees with 15 km to go. The rhythm was increasing in the last kilometres before the last climb of the day. A crash with 8 km to go broke the head of the peloton: Honore (DQT,44), Serry (DQT,46), Bilbao (AST,32) and Lutsenko (AST,36) were affected.
Zaratamo was an electric and fast climb: the top riders showed up. A quick attack from Adam Yates was followed by three other riders: Schachmann (BOH,27), Pogacar (UAD,104) and Fulgsang (AST,31). The descent was fast before the final sprint. Schachmann and Pogacar took some metres of advantage but the rider from Bora-Hansgrohe could finish it off to culminate in a hat-trick.
Schachmann keeps the lead on the overall and his rivals will have to play their cards on the two last mountain stages.
Schachmann: “I wanted to win again; I knew that the finale suited me and I wanted to try. It has been a special day, with difficult weather conditions. We were all suffering but the team has done an incredible job and I was motivated to go for the win. I’m very happy with this new stage victory”.
“The two stages left are dangerous but today I felt well on the climb. We’ll see what happens in the next two days but of course I’ll try to defend the jersey”. “Not winning the Itzulia wouldn’t be a failure nor a disappointment. If someone would have told me before the beginning of the race that I was going to win three stages I would have not believed it. I’m progressing as a rider, I’m still 25 years old and I’m happy to see that I’m in good shape. Hopefully I can keep it for the rest of the season”.