At what point will Remco Evenepoel have had more solo wins than hot dinners?
On stage four of the Tour of Poland 2020, the 20-year-old hit out with 50km to go and held it until the finish line, the bunch behind failing in their ability to get a competent pursuit together.
The Belgian held up Fabio Jakobsen’s number 75 in tribute to his team-mate who crashed on stage one, as he crossed the line nearly two minutes ahead of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in second.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) came third and fourth having set off with 30km remaining to try and catch Evenepoel, as Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) rounded out the top five.
How it happened
The queen stage of the 2020 race featured a circuit containing multiple ascents of two category one climbs around the Bukovina resort.
CCC’s Kamil Małecki, Nathan Haas (Cofidis), James Whelan (EF), Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) and Patryk Stosz (Poland) were the group of five riders that came together for the day’s breakaway.
Gradek and Stosz were present to try and mop up some KoM points early on, but the first was taken by Harper before Haas got the second.
Stosz eventually got his revenge on the third climb of the day, taking the KoM to leapfrog Gradek into the lead as the break maintained a nearly three minute lead over the bunch.
Richard Carapaz and Ian Stannard (both Ineos) were among the riders caught in a crash with 67km to go, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Max Scachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) also involved, with Ryan Gibbons (NTT) remaining on the ground.
As the race started to come back together with 60km to go, Haas and Stosz were dropped, leaving Whelan, Harper and Małecki up front, the peloton now only 1-30 behind.
Remco Evenepoel had been quite quiet so far, which meant it was time for the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to launch a long-range attack, going from 50km out.
The Belgian quickly built up a 20 second lead as the bunch stuttered in organising the chase, doubling it over the next 12km.
A competent chase was still failing to materialise, with Evenepoel taking a minute lead into the final 30km.
Bora-Hansgrohe’s Rafal Majka had soon had enough, setting off in pursuit, followed soon after by Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) completed the experienced trio clubbing together to hunt down a 20-year-old, and were just over a minute behind him with 18km remaining.
On the penultimate climb of the day, Fuglsang dropped both Yates and Majka, but the Dane had left it to late to bring back Evenepoel, who crossed the line first.
Yates took second ahead of Majka, more than two minutes down and 35 seconds behind Fuglsang.
Evenepoel now takes a near two-minute lead into the final stage five.
Tour of Poland 2020, stage four: Bukovina Resort to Bukowina Tatrzańska (152.9km)
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 3-55-52
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-48
3. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 2-22
4. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-05
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at same time
7. Kamil Małecki (Pol) CCC, at 3-08
8. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Mitchelton-Scott
9. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, both at same time
10. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 3-09
General classification after stage four
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 16-58-28
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 1-52
3. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 2-28
4. Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 2-32
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-09
6. Kamil Małecki (Pol) CCC, at 3-12
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 3-15
8. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma, at 3-18
9. Mikel Nieve (Esp) Mitchelton-Scott, at same time
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-19