ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Daryl Impey of South Africa won the demanding fourth stage of the Tour Down Under cycle race Friday but New Zealand's Patrick Bevin came in second to retain the tour leader's ocher jersey.
Impey came off Bevin's wheel close to the finish line to snatch the win by less than a bike length ahead of Bevin who increased his overall tour lead from one second after stage three to seven seconds over Impey who took a 10 second time bonus.
Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez again led the dash towards the finish but couldn't grab the stage win, finishing third behind Impey and Bevin. He is in third place on general classification, 19 seconds behind the tour leader.
Impey put himself strongly in tour contention with his ride on Friday but Bevin, a specialist time trialer, continued to surprise with his versatility. He has shown the ability to stay close on the climbs and to compete with the the top sprinters to retain the overall race lead since stage two.
He has the chance to consolidate his lead on the 149.5 kilometer fifth stage on Saturday before the tour concludes with the 151.5 queen stage on Sunday which ends atop Old Wilunga Hill.
Impey's race on Friday was perfectly judged and his win was helped by the work of his teammates in the Australia-based Mitchelton-Scott team.
It's fantastic to win today. We knew it was going to be a hard one to win," Impey said. "The guys put their faith in me.
"I knew if I lined up Paddy Bevin I'd have a big shot at winning so I'm super happy to win today.
"To be honest I had a good mate who passed away in January so I had him in my mind. I hand this win to him because I was really pushing at the end for him and I'm so stoked to have done something like this, so special for him."
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