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Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious) edged the final stage sprint of Tour de la Provence on Sunday, winning by a wheel’s length ahead of Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic).
Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers) rolled home in the group to secure the overall victory, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the GC by 18 seconds.
Bauhaus scored his win after a hectic finale through the streets of Salon de Provence that saw a handful of sprinters jostling for space.
Pre-stage favorite Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) was out of position throughout the final kilometer as Alaphilippe led the Deceuninck-Quick-Step train at the front of the bunch. Ballerini sat poised in the wheels of his teammates with Bouhanni and Bauhaus sat behind him, making the most of the Quick-Step lead out.
Ballerini opened the taps first as he hunted his third win of the tour, and the Italian edged clear as Bauhaus took the long route around the side of the accelerating bunch.
The German sprinter stayed strong as Ballerini faded and Bouhanni found himself boxed in at the barriers, leaving the 26-year-old to take the opening victory for his newly renamed Bahrain-Victorious team.
Bauhaus said that the looping course, which had already passed through the finishing line earlier in the stage, played in his favor.
“It’s nice to see the finish before so you can make a final plan,” he said. “I knew I had to be in the front at 600 meters to go and it went really well for us. I’m pleased I was strong enough to finish it off.”
The win was Bahaus’ first since the Saudi Tour last February.
“It’s always good for a sprinter to win races, and I’m also happy for the team, it takes some pressure off us,” he said.
Alaphilippe started the stage swinging in a brave bid to move up to second overall. Having started the stage third on GC, two-seconds back on Egan Bernal, the Frenchman punched to win the intermediate sprint in the first 10km and grab the bonus points that enabled him to leapfrog the Ineos rider.
Once the dust had settled from the early dash for bonuses, the day’s break pulled away, with Tony Gallopin (AG2R Citroën), Luis Mas (Movistar), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Jérémy Leveau (Xelliss-Roubaix) gaining around a four-minute gap through the first half of the race.
The quartet’s advantage began to tumble at around 60km as Groupama-FDJ and Arkéa-Samsic took control of the bunch. With 25km to go and the gap static at 90 seconds, Mas gambled to punch off the front of the break and lasted through to the final 10km before falling back into the escape group.
The pace in the bunch ramped up in the urban drag into Salon-de-Provence as Ineos Grenadiers and the sprint teams looked to maneuver their leaders into position. The break fought to the last and was only scooped back into the peloton at 2km to go as Arkéa-Samsic and Deceuninck-Quick-Step paced the race toward its conclusion.
Top-3 on stage 4
- Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain-Victorious): 3:47:01
- Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck Quick Step): ST
- Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic): ST
- Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers): 17:21:00
- Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers): +0:18
- Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): +0:19