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Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Soudal) took an impressive solo win on the queen stage 4 of the Saudi Tour.
The win is Van Gils’ first as a professional in his second season as a pro and puts him into the overall race lead with one stage remaining. He was part of a small group that went clear mid-way through the stage after crosswinds demolished the peloton for the second day running.
Van Gils made his stage-winning move with just under 10km to go as the road rose to a leg-sapping 19 percent gradient on the final climb to the line following an attack from Andrea Bagioli (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). The Italian tried to stick with him, but he ran out of steam before the finish and was caught by a group of chasers, with Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange-Jayco) taking second, and Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) in third.
“It feels special to have my first pro win but I’m not a rider to win a lot of pro races so it’s really special,” Van Gils said. “I had a really good day today and the team did a really good job in the echelon and then it was just my job to stay there and save my energy and finally I finished it on the end.
💪 STAGE 4 💪
— Saudi Tour طواف السعودية (@thesauditour) February 4, 2022
“We are here with Caleb for victories in the sprint stages, but I was here for the GC and Caleb put a lot of trust in me and motivated me every day. It was my job to do a good GC and today was the perfect day and I finished it off.
“Tomorrow is a new day, I need to be focused. I have a good team and tomorrow we will go again for the stage win in the sprint, but I also need to take the victory home.”
Overnight leader Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) made it into the front group but was unable to bring back Van Gils.
Buitrago now sits some 36 seconds behind the Belgian rider in the overall classification with Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) holding onto his third place at 48 seconds.
The final stage of the Saudi Tour is a 138.9km loop from Al-Ula Old Town and back with the sprinters likely to contest the stage win. While an overall victory looks destined for Van Gils, he’ll have to be wary of crosswinds and echelons along the way.
Saudi Tour stage 4 results
- Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Soudal) 03:32:39
- Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange-Jayco), at :40
- Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), at s.t.
- Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Soudal) 17:09:38
- Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious), at :36
- Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), at :48