Dubai: David De La Cruz took over from teammate Davide Formolo as the UAE Team Emirates team maintained their pressure on the top pack at the end of Stage Four of the Criterium Du Dauphine, late on Saturday.
Formolo, who won Stage Three of the race on Friday, inherited the Mountain Leader’s jersey after yet another fine ride on Saturday. Formolo had powered his way to a solo ride from the breakaway for well over 50km.
On Saturday, it was the turn of teammate De La Cruz as he chased down stage winner Lennard Kamna who took a solo win after attacking the breakaway in the final 3km.
The day saw three of the top General Classification riders drop out of the race. Egan Bernal of Team Ineos, Jumbo-Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Emanuel Buchmann all abandoned to leave the field open for the rest of the challengers. Dauphine yellow jersey leader Primoz Roglic pulled out before Sunday's final stage.
The Slovenian withdrew after a nasty fall on Saturday which left the former ski-jumper badly grazed and limping onto the podium at the Megeve summit.
His departure leaves France's Thibaut Pinot heading the general classification by 10 seconds ahead of the concluding 153.5 kilometre fifth stage.
After Formolo’s exploits on Friday, it was left up to De La Cruz on Saturday as the Spaniard initiated a long breakaway, which ended with a second place and a jump to the top of the Mountains standings.
De La Cruz went in the break, a few moments after the flag dropped from Ugine, together with 12 other escapees, a brave move considering that the 153.5km towards the uphill finish of Megeve (Category 2) had five mountain passes.
The group was reduced to eight on the final ascent to see Bora-Hansgrohe rider Kamna showing his form to win, followed by De La Cruz at 41 seconds.
“It was a very hard day. It was the most demanding stage of the Dauphine. Until now I hadn’t had great sensations. I think I paid a little for having just come down from training at altitude, but today I had very good legs, which allowed me to get in the break,” De La Cruz said.
“Being up front would also have allowed me to eventually help Pogacar, but in the end I found myself fighting for the win and for the ranking of best climber. It would have been nice to win, but Kamna was stronger and second place is a good result.”
Tadej Pogacar arrived at the finish line together with the other big names of the race at 3.01 minutes from the stage winner. That position helped the Slovenian ride knock climb back into ninth place in the General Classification.
Meanwhile at the Il Lombardia (World Tour), the in-form Diego Ulissi put in a brave ride to finish in eighth place at the event affectionately known as ‘the race of the falling leaves’.
Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang proved the strongest on the day as he came home to win solo after 231km and become the first Dane to win a stage.
UAE Team Emirates were well represented from the early stages with Aleksandr Riabushenko making it into the main break of the day before being reeled back in the closing stages.
The race, however, was marked by crashes, especially to Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck Quickstep) and Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Criterium Du Dauphine Stage 4
1. Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:27:56
2. David De La Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) +41s
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) +56s
1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 17:45:32
2. Thibau Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +14s
3. Guillame Martin (Cofidis) +24s
9. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +1:17