Tour de l'Aude
Lezignan Corbières - Lezignan Corbières, 120km
With two major category climbs in the stage, the race did not get going until after the first climb, which was a 3km climb at 30km. This was a Category 1 climb, the Col du Fer à Cheval. A small break went away on the descent, with riders from Équipe Nürnberger, T-Mobile, AA Drink, Bianchi Aliverti and the National squads of Belgium and France. Missing from the break was a representative of the race leader's team, Buitenpoort-Flexpoint. Loës Gunnewijk may not be expected to hold the jersey, or to defend it, but without anyone in the break and hopes for a high overall classification when the race finishes on Sunday, the Dutch squad were forced to chase down the small breakaway.
By the time the race reached the foot of the second climb, the face of the race had changed again, with everything coming together again before the Category 2 Col de Villegrouge. By the summit, there were three distinct groups, with the main bunch at the front containing the top end of the general classification. T-Mobile and Colnago Fenixs were the teams forcing the pace on the climb. The main protagonists were Lyne Bessette, Kim Anderson, Kim Baldwin (T-Mobile), Svetlana Bubnenkova (Colnago Fenixs). Also there were Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint) and Edita Puckinskaite (Nobili Rubinetterie).
After the 8km descent, there was still 40km to race and several attacks were launched. A largish group managed to get away and established a lead of over 1 minute over the chasers. They managed to stay away thanks to a series of attacks off the front of the race by stage-win hopefuls trying for a long, lone breakaway. None of these were successful and as the race entered Lezignan Corbières, the sprinters were vying for position.
Without the luxury of team-mates, the sprinters were forced to lead themselves out and it was Jo Kiesanowski (Univega) who was at the front of the race after a left handed turn with 200m to go. She was strong enough to stay in front and crossed the line just ahead of Adrie Visser (AA Drink) and Chantal Beltman (Netherlands). A quick glance as she crossed the line confirmed her win; Kiesanowski celebrated with a victory salute and a cheer.
The race lead was transferred from one young Buitenpoort-Flexpoint rider (Loës Gunnewijk) to another, Madeleine Sandig, who has spent the past couple of days in the pink jersey of the young rider competition leader. She will start stage 5, a 119km loop around the towns and villages west of Carcassonne in the Aude region, in yellow. The stage starts and finishes in Castelnaudry.
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