Australian Damien Howson moved into the race lead at the Tour de Hongrie with one day to go, thanks to a stunning victory on the summit finish to stage four.
The day was always set for a general classification showdown on the final climb, with Team BikeExchange taking a backseat for most of the day before the breakaway was reeled in and the race hit the slopes of the category one ascent.
Both Kaden Groves and Barnabás Peák set a strong pace on the climb before swinging off and leaving it to Howson and Italian youngster Kevin Colleoni with four kilometres remaining. Howson then bided his time and didn’t panic when Jhojan García made his move with two kilometres to go and instead waited to launch his bid for glory inside the final kilometre.
With Colleoni setting a strong pace behind, Howson powered across the gap and straight pass the Colombian, with nobody able to follow the 28-year-old’s stinging acceleration as he crossed the line. The victory propels the Czech Tour winner into the overall race lead by 16 seconds with just one stage remaining.
“I feel bad for the Caja Rural rider, he did exactly the move I did last year, and I knew if a team still has more than one rider it’s virtually impossible to stay away.
From the beginning of the race, from the first 30 kilometres until the break went, the team was flawless, the communication was fantastic, they marked every move that we knew was dangerous and we didn’t have to commit anyone to the front until the final climb.
It was quite an easy stage until the final climb, but I needed to make the race as hard as possible to get rid of some of those faster guys. So, we took it up from the bottom and once the solo rider attacked with two kilometres to go, I was lucky to have Kevin Colleoni there.
He just rode a really hard tempo, I think everyone was uncomfortable on the wheels and I was able to time my move to perfection and essentially copy last year’s stage winner and the way he won, so I couldn’t be happier!”
Mat Hayman (Sport Director):
“What can I say? We came here with a team with only two climbers with Kevin and Damo, but the boys really stepped up today and a lot of the boys that we’ve been using for the lead out started climbing and it was really nice to see how everyone pulled together to give Damo that opportunity.
He came close last year, he made a little bit of a mistake last year and this year he fixed that mistake and won the stage convincingly and it was really nice to see. It was pretty impressive how some of the guys were climbing on a course that doesn’t really suit them.
Also, without Kevin there, who knows what would have happened? To have a guy that young to be able to react that quickly and to ride tempo for Damo was great. So all round a great team performance and I’m super happy for Damo to get the win after last year when he came ever so close.”
2021 Tour de Hongrie Stage 4 – Results
1. Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange) 2:55:50
2. Ben Hermans +0:09
3. Antonio Tiberi +0:15
2021 Tour de Hongrie Stage 4 – GC
1. Damien Howson (Team BikeExchange) 16:11:24
2. Ben Hermans +0:163. Antonio Tiberi +0:24
Photo Courtesy of Vanik Zoltan.
— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com