Pena Reigns: Holland Stage 4
– Reported by Dan Osipow for Tailwind Sports –
Following a winning effort in today’s time trial stage, the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team’s Victor Hugo Pena took over the race lead at the Tour of Holland with two stages remaining.
Pena, a member of the last two USPS Tour de France winning teams, turned in a strong performance in the 18.3 kilometer stage four time trial today in Almelo, held following a shorter road stage this morning. A former time trial stage winner at the Tour of Italy, Pena clocked a time of 21 minutes and 23 seconds to average just over 51 kph for the stage. The performance was one second faster than runner up Roberto Bartko of Telekom and two seconds faster than Rabobank’s Marc Wauters. In the event’s first stage on Tuesday, Pena, who earlier this season won the Tour of Murcia, was involved in a long breakaway in which he gained four seconds in time bonuses.
The USPS team placed five of its eight riders in the top 20 in the TT and also have five in the top 20 in GC. Dylan Casey rode well in placing eighth in the stage, 15 seconds back of Pena, while Benoit Joachim , Christian Vande Velde and Tom Boonen finished 14th, 18th and 19th, respectively. In the overall GC, Casey is in eighth, Joachim 14th, Boonen 16th and Vande Velde 19th.
“It’s good to see that we have five riders in the overall top 20,” said Dirk Demol, the USPS team’s assistant Director Sportif. “It leaves many doors open for us. Normally, being in the race lead would cause the team to ride at the front for 200 kms to defend the lead, but this race is different; that would be too dangerous for us. Victor’s lead is only five seconds and there are many time bonuses left on the road. And as always, this race is very important to Rabobank and they have brought there best team here, with Levi (Leipheimer), Wauters, (Erik) Dekker and (Michael) Boogerd, so we expect lots of attacks from them. It may be tough to keep the jersey, but with five in the top 20, we can do something.”
Tomorrow’s nearly 200 km stage from Arnhem to Sittard is relatively flat, but the final stage on Saturday, a 205.5 km race from Sittard to Landgraaf, is similar to the Amstel Gold World Cup event with many challenging climbs.
“We will see lots of attacks and need to have a rider in each breakaway over the next two days,” added Demol.
STAGE FOUR, TOUR OF HOLLAND
1. Victor Hugo Pena, U.S. Postal Service; 18.3 kms in 21:23
2. Roberto Bartko, Telekom; at :01
3. Marc Wauters, Rabobank; at :02
4. Raivis Belohvosciks, Lampre-Daikin; at :04
5. Erik Dekker, Rabobank, at :06
8. Dylan Casey, U.S. Postal Service; at :15
14. Benoit Joachim, U.S. Postal Service; at :25
18. Christian Vande Velde, U.S. Postal Service; at :33
19. Tom Boonen, U.S. Postal Service; at :34
30. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service; at :50
34. Pavel Padrnos, U.S. Postal Service; at :57
43. Matt White, U.S. Postal Service; at 1:14
GC AFTER FOUR STAGES, TOUR OF HOLLAND
1. Pena; 10:45:49
2. Bartko; at :05
3. Wauters; at :06
4. Belohvosciks; at :08
5. Dekker; at :10
8. Casey; at :19
14. Joachim; at :29
16. Boonen; at :34
19. Vande Velde; at :37
31. Cruz; at :54
33. Padrnos; at 1:01
43. White; at 1:18