Louis Meintjes wins the fourth stage of the Itzulia in Legutio  

  • Louis Meintjes takes the fourth stage of the Itzulia 
  • After the hard fall, several runners have abandoned the race, including Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic 
  • Mattias Skjelmose is the new leader of the race 

The fourth stage of the Itzulia 2024 is on, starting in Etxarri Aranatz and finishing in Legutio, the race has come to Araba. The stage involves 159 kilometres and 4 scoring mountain passes. After yesterday’s hard falls, the main favourites for the general classification took to the starting line. Which was great news.  

The day started fast and slightly windy, with a breakaway that materialised at kilometre 12, with 6 escapees:  Reuben Thompson (87, GFC), Louis Meintjes (121, IWA), Mathieu Burgaudeau (141, TEN), Mikel Retegi (195, EKP), Joseba Lopez (213, CJR) and Karel Vacek (223, BBH). Enekoitz Azparren (177, EUS) tried to catch them, but was ultimately absorbed by the peloton.  

The peloton let the escapees open up a lead of more than 6 minutes. The wind picked up with 60 kilometres to go and the peloton upped the pace just in case it caught any of the favourites by surprise. The group eventually broke up, with the leaders at the front of the peloton. The main group reduced the pace and again concentrated on controlling the distance of 3’50” to the breakaway.  

The race approached the last 3 short but steep climbs of the day. The pace was upped again to catch the breakaway. Which was losing riders due to the competition for the mountain points. Having reached the summit of Olaeta, 32 kilometres from the finish line, the riders began to descend when several crashed out hard, including Primoz Roglic, Remco Evenepoel, Jonas Vingegaard and others. The fall happened on a high-speed curve where the riders involved exited the outside of the curve of the road, landing and hitting several rocks and other elements. The race was stopped as medics and ambulances attended to the many injured. For safety reasons, it was decided to cancel the Untzilla mountain pass and neutralise the route until the town of Aretxabaleta. The organisers waited for the medics to rejoin the race. These were very stressful moments, with much concern for the cyclists.  

In the end, the UCI commissaries, riders and organisers agreed to neutralise the stage until the finish line, the 6 leading riders would compete for the stage, but their times would not be counted for the general classification. The peloton would be neutralised to the finish line.  

The last few kilometres of the stage were very strange, with the peloton riding at a neutralised pace and the escapees competing to win in unpleasant circumstances. The strongest escapee was Louis Meintjes (121, IWT) who took the stage. After Primoz Roglic’s withdrawal, Mattias Skjelmose becomes the new race leader.  

Standings after Stage 4 

Stage winner: Louis Meintjes (121, IWT) 

Overall individual ranking: Mattias Skjelmose (71, LDT) 

Mountain classification: Louis Meintjes (121, IWT) 

Overall points classification: Quinten Hermans (202, APC) 

Overall ranking best young rider: Juan Ayuso (UAD, 101) 

Overall team classification: Bora-Hansgrohe 

Overall ranking best Basque rider: Pello Bilbao (TBV, 111) 

Most combative: Louis Meintjes (121, IWT) 

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