Stage 4’s 117.5km race from Yiti (Al Sifah) to the Ministry of Tourism is likely to be an explosive affair, with a shorter total distance and several punchy climbs which will force the favourites to attack hard in order to break the race apart. Yesterday’s stage provided some further insight as to who is best to watch out for on this testing course and it could be those same faces which end up deciding today’s outcome again.
Greg Van Avermaet is using this race as some final preparation ahead of the start of his classics campaign and he is already looking to be on track for some serious form once again this year. His showing yesterday was impressive, distancing a strong group of rivals in the final kilometre with ease and never really looking up against it when fighting for the stage honours. An expected frontrunner again today, it would be of little surprise to see him form part of an elite breakaway and see the stage out with another strong sprint finish. On such a short stage, he will need to make the race as hard as possible for his rivals, as there are several stronger sprinters who have the potential to survive with him to the final kilometres.
Fabio Felline suits this stage profile extremely well, and if he continues his rise to the sort of form which made him such a threat in the past, there is a good chance he can finish the day with a win here. He stayed in contention throughout Stage 2, already proving he can match the likes of Greg Van Avermaet for example, which shall give him the confidence to follow the key moves again here. One of the fastest riders most likely to feature at the end of the day, if he can make the cut, then it could be an easy surge to the line for him.
Alexander Kristoff performed impressively yesterday and is another rider who certainly looks to be building his form convincingly ahead of the spring classics which begin next month. On such a short stage, the likelihood of him making the moves increases, though the flip side of this is that many other are also more likely to survive; specifically those faster in a sprint finish. Regardless, if he can make his rivals suffer, then we might get an early glimpse of what the next couple of months hold with a Alexander Kristoff versus Greg Van Avermaet sprint for the line.
Nathan Haas will believe he can win this stage in a similar fashion to Stage 2 earlier in the week, looking to pounce from an elite group of riders and get the jump on the likes of Greg Van Avermaet and a potential Alexander Kristoff. He needs the race to ditch the fastest riders in the bunch, but not at such an intensity that he suffers enough to give the classics focused riders the upper hand. Regardless, he is an intelligent rider and will know how to pace himself alongside the big names today, potentially doubling up on his current tally of wins this season already.
Others to consider are Alexey Lutsenko, Rui Costa, Magnus Cort and Giovanni Visconti.
1st Fabio Felline 2nd Nathan Haas 3rd Alexander Kristoff