TOULON, France (AFP) — Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Leopard) seized the overall lead in the 40th Tour Méditerranéen on Saturday as Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) won the crucial fourth stage to Mont Faron.
Péraud took the 145km stage from Rousset to the summit of Mont Faron by 19 seconds ahead of Francesco Reda (Androni). Bauke Mollema (Blanco) rounded out the day’s podium in third, 24 seconds down.
Monfort, who had moved into second overall behind Lars Boom (Blanco Pro Cycling) after the stage-2 time trial, said the team “was well prepared” for the queen stage of the tour, which saw Boom slip to second overall, just a second out of the lead.
“The only thing not foreseen was that I had a very bad day today,” he said. “But I gave everything I had. It was a fight within myself the last two, three kilometers. Thanks go to my teammates who worked all day for me. Thomas Rohregger was the last guy with me until 2k from the top and then it was up to me. Just at that moment Boom was dropped.”
Monfort now heads the overall standings going into Sunday’s fifth and final stage, a 192km leg from Bandol to Grasse that includes a final climb to Tanneron before a fast descent to the finish.
“Now we will defend this jersey tomorrow in a hard stage,” said team director José Azevedo. “It won’t be easy. We only have six riders as Robert Kišerlovski was sick and didn’t start today. If a lot of riders survive the climb of Tanneron we might be lucky that the sprinters’ teams will work. Otherwise it will be up to us alone.”