It was a long time coming but Bryan Coquard finally took the first WorldTour victory of his career on Stage 4 of the 2023 Tour Down Under. The French rider had come achingly close before, including an infamous photo finish in the 2016 Tour de France. Somehow, despite 50 wins in his career, the 30-year-old has had to wait until now for a WT win. The slightly uphill finish to the line in Willunga saw Coquard go long into a headwind and take first place ahead of Prologue winner Alberto Bettiol and Hugo Page of Intermarché-Circus-Wanty in a small group.
“I’m very happy to win my first WorldTour race,” he said. “Ten years ago I wait for this win and it’s a lot of, I think before this win, I win 49 or 48 [times before] but never [in a] WorldTour race.
“I’m very happy. It’s my first objective this year, to win in WorldTour and [to do so] before the final of January, it’s perfect.Bryan Coquard
Pre-stage favourite Michael Matthews could only finish 6th as his slightly disappointing week at the Tour Down Under continues. Despite that, Matthews still leads in the points jersey competition.
“After yesterday’s performance from myself I had really high hopes for today. Unfortunately, the legs weren’t there. I struggled most of the day, really tried to profit from some of the sprinters missing the front group in the crosswind there, but all through the day it was a battle against myself. I wasn’t good enough today.”Michael Matthews
Caleb Ewan was another disappointed sprinter, finishing 10th today. Stage 4 was the last chance on paper for the sprinters to take something from the Tour Down Under. Tomorrow’s final stage has a summit finish on Mount Lofty.
“[Coquard’s] really good on a finish like this, uphill. He’s a small sprinter like me and if he gets the jump, it’s hard to close the gap on him. I was kind of coming and saw how far in front he was and kind of knew the race was over there. It was really a finish where you needed teammates. It was a big headwind; we had to really take the gamble and sit behind and it’s just so easy to get swamped there.
We did one big effort to come back to the front but to be honest it kind of killed me a little bit and then I was struggling to fight for position again and there were teams coming from every side. I was way too far back in the sprint. I knew I was too far back, and I tried to gamble and hope that something opened for me, and I could come with speed, but I just didn’t have the legs in the final, especially with an uphill like that.”Caleb Ewan
Jay Vine kept himself out of trouble on today’s stage despite the crosswinds. Vine now has lead of 15 seconds over Simon Yates and Pello Bilbao. The gap between the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium is particularly small. It comes down to tenths of seconds splitting the Brit and Spanish rider from the Prologue.