Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won the feared Norton Summit stage at the Tour Down Under, winning the select group sprint from Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana). Sagan also assumed control of the overall race lead.
While a 128km stage isn’t all that testing in terms of distance, the 43 degree average temperature between Norwood and Uraidla made today’s 4th stage of the Tour Down Under one of the most arduous. 2 riders from the UniSA team braved the heat and went on the attack, establishing a lead of 9-minutes.
The gap to the breakaway meant the peloton could not rest, making for an all-round difficult stage heading toward Norton Summit. The peloton got the better of the break in the end, reeling them in just before the cat 1 climb began at 13km to go. The main group flew into the base of the climb and riders were instantly getting dropped. It wasn’t long until only 35 riders remained in the lead group.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were well poised for the finale with 3 riders positioned in the group of favourites. Team leader, Tom-Jelte Slagter had the support of Ben O’Connor and Scott Davies going over the top of Norton Summit. Richie Porte was first to crest the climb, closing the gap to Nicholas Dlamini’s King of the Mountain’s jersey to 16 points. Our South African will no doubt be out to defend his jersey tomorrow once again.
As the 35-rider lead group made its way over the rollers that populated the final 7km, a few attacks went off the front but with 1km to go it all came back together. Sagan was the fastest from the group despite a strong challenge from Impey. Sanchez rounded out the stage podium while our 3 African Team riders didn’t lose anytime finishing with the front group.
Scott Davies – Rider
Today was another hot day, making for a difficult stage. My responsibility was to look after Tom and provide support to him on the final climb. I was able to make the final group with Tom and Ben but to be honest, I was very much on my limit during the climb so I wasn’t able to provide much support. The group finished together in the end which was relieving, but I expect tomorrow will be equally as difficult as today if not more, so I hope to recover well and contribute where possible tomorrow.