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Santesteban climbs to 4th to catapult herself up to 2nd on the general classification in Ardeche – Team BikeExchange

Spanish climber Ane Santesteban has once again shown her continuously building form, by climbing to a strong fourth place on today’s summit finish stage at Cycliste Féminin de l’Ardeche. The strong performance on the tough 119.6km stage sees the 30-year-old climb the overall classification into second position.

Santesteban had teammate Lucy Kennedy by her side towards the final, on the penultimate climb, before Ruth Winder attacked away from the group and was able to hold off the chasers to take a solo victory.

Santesteban dug deep up the final first category ascent and was able to finish in fourth place, on the same time as race leader Leah Thomas who finished second place and third place Mavi Garcia

The Team BikeExchange rider will start tomorrow’s fifth stage in second place overall just nine seconds down on Thomas and on the same time as Garcia, who currently sits in third place.

Ane Santesteban – 4th place
“The team was awesome again today. They keep me out of trouble and out of the wind all day and the last two climbs were hard. There were some moves from the main general classification riders, and we had to control them

Today we actually had the plan to try to go for the stage win with Lucy Kennedy. The girls perfectly executed the plan, and she was able to get away. In the end, she missed some good legs but I’m sure she will find again her moment here and finish her career in the best way. This is the same place where everything started for her as a professional cyclist.

I am really motivated and feeling confidence for the next three stages. It’s so nice to see how strong we are as a team. That really helps me. Fourth place in the end today and now up to second place overall, so it is exciting.”

2021 Cycliste Féminin de l’Ardeche – Stage 4 results:
1. Ruth Winder 3:28:23
2. Leah Thomas +2:18
3. Mavi Garcia +2:18
4. Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) +2:18

General Classification after stage 4:
1. Leah Thomas 13:44:39
2. Ane Santesteban (Team BikeExchange) +0:09
3. Mavi Garcia +0:09

Photo courtesy of Getty Images 

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

Clarke climbs to 8th on explosive Tour of Britain stage 4

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) powered to the Tour of Britain stage 4 victory, beating Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quickstep) into 2nd place with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up) rounding out the podium.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Britain was the longest of the race, covering 210km from Aberaeron to Llandudno. There was also a fair amount of climbing in the final half of the stage, with two short sharp climbs placed in the final 7km.

The tough nature of the course meant it would be an important stage for the GC men and the punchy climber specialists in the bunch. For Team Qhubeka NextHash, this meant Simon Clarke would be the go-to-guy for the day.

An early break did animate the beginning of the stage, and a few opportunists did also try their luck by jumping across the lead group with around 60km to go, but the up and down finale ensured the likes of Jumbo-Visma, Ineos and Deceuninck-Quickstep kept the pressure on at the front of the race.

Team Qhubeka NextHash played its first card with 35km to go, as Mauro Schmid attacked on one of the hills outside of Llandudno. He was joined by two others, but they never got more than 25 seconds before being caught with 19km remaining.

The peloton stayed together until the penultimate climb but the battle to reach the foot of the hill was intense. Team Qhubeka NextHash did a fine job though, looking after Clarke into the climb, Giacomo Nizzolo and Carlos Barbero in particular doing some fantastic work to keep their teammate in the top 10 places.

An acceleration over the top of the climb by Movistar was again shut down, just before the final 2km climb to the line began. Riders were greeted with an explosive gradient of 18% and it was here where the favourites made their moves.

Van Aert was matched by Alaphilppe and Woods right up to the line, the Belgian champion just having enough to edge the World Champion into 2nd. Clarke fought valiantly and brought home a credible 8th place finish on the stage, 16 seconds behind Van Aert.

It was a pretty good day. The team was pretty keen to bounce back after an unfortunate day yesterday, with the crash in the TTT. The plan was to look after me all day and I would do what I can in the final. I had the full support from the team and I have to say it was super teamwork. I really appreciated everyone’s help, they all did their job and each person made a difference. I had great help in the lead out to the climb which was crucial with the final climb being so steep. Every meter you were behind the front was a disadvantage so I got dropped off in the perfect position without having to use much energy at all, which was really good. I did my best, getting up the wall as best as possible. 8th place, happy with that and happy to get a top 10 for the team and hopefully we can keep building upon the positivity.

Simon Clarke

— Damian to teamqhubeka.com