Belgium Tour Stage 4: Boonen 2nd in Another Group Arrival
Once again the Baloise Belgium Tour ended in a bunch sprint, with Boonen on the podium for a third consecutive stage. This time Boonen was 2nd to Arnaud Demare (FDJ), while Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) finished 3rd in the 185.5km Stage 4 in Lacs de l'Eau d'Heure .
The race came back together on the last lap after there was a rider solo from the original breakaway. Etixx - Quick-Step had four riders in front keeping the tempo high and chasing down some late race attacks, including one just before the final kilometer. Niki Terpstra did his best with a long pull as the last leadoutman for Boonen on the front.
Demare launched his sprint very early, and while Boonen was able to pass him initially after going full gas from 3rd position, Demare came around him on the left side for the stage win.
Boonen is 4th GC going into the final stage of Baloise Belgium Tour. He trails Brandle by 8", which is the same time as Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) in 3rd overall. He is 7" down on Arnaud Demare (FDJ) in the GC. He also trails Demare by 5 in the points classification. Yves Lampaert is 8th overall, 24" down.
Etixx - Quick-Step looks next to the final 199.2km Stage 5 on Sunday in Sankt Vith. There are a total of 10 ascents including Cote de Brume, Cote de Wanne, Cote de Stockeau, Cote Bergstrasse, Cote Haute Levee, Cote de Rosier. Cote de Brume, Cote De Wanne, Cote de Stockeau, and Cote Bergstrasse are climbed more than once.
"I think I was a bit too early in front for the sprint," Boonen said. "I was in Niki's wheel on the descent and we were going fast. The move on the right side of the road from FDJ forced me to start my sprint early. At 300 meters from the finish I went. Demare was was on the right side of me and came in my wheel. So, perfect position Demare and congratulations to him for the win today. For the past two days I didn't feel great, but every time in the finale I was surprised how good it went even with that feeling. So considering everything, OK, that's cycling and you can't always win. I'll do my best tomorrow in this last day of the Belgium Tour, which will be decisive for the GC as it has been in the past."