Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) sprinted back into the Aviva Women’s Tour GC lead in the fourth stage of the race after the pack swallowed up a dangerous breakaway inside the final kilometer.
Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) broke clear of the peloton inside the final 30 kilometers of the stage and opened up a gap that almost reached one minute on rain-soaked roads in southern England, but the fast finishers in the bunch were not to be denied their chance at stage honors. The peloton kept the break’s advantage under control and finally swept up the two escapees inside the final 1000 meters as the sprinters’ teams lined up for a bunch kick.
Lisa Brennauer was the fastest to the line, outsprinting Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Lotta Lepistö (Bigla) for the stage win. After losing the yellow jersey to Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) in stage 3, Brennauer was able to retake the race lead with the bonus seconds she earned in stage 4. Majerus finished fourth on the stage and is now nine seconds behind Brennauer in the general classification.
“When the rain came I knew it would be tricky but I went around the final corners safely and chose a good wheel in Emma Johansson and came off from there,” Brennauer said after the stage. “The chase was difficult because of the undulating course and the quality of the riders up the road and I wasn’t quite sure we would see them again before the finish.”
The race continues with a decisive stage 5 that will challenge the GC contenders and will force Brennauer to fight hard to hold onto her overall lead.
“It’s going to be an exciting day and it is so close that there are seconds on the road that everybody will fight for before the final finish but me and my team are going to do our best to bring this jersey home now that we have it back,” she said. “We raced very well today as a team and that will give us confidence for the final day. Our morale is very good. We have had a rider on the podium of every stage. The spirit is good and that is a very good way to start the final stage.”