Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) has successfully defended the leader's jersey going into Sunday`s final stage at the Tour d'Azerbaidjan.
Edwin Avila (Team Illuminate) has won stage 4 of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan after an impressive breakaway effort, followed by a strong finishing sprint. Besides the stage victory, Avila also assumes the lead in the green Points' jersey competition ahead of tomorrow's final stage. In the GC battle, the queen stage was always under control for the Synergy Baku Cycling Project team, who successfully defended the blue leader's jersey of Kirill Pozdnyakov.
After yesterday's chaotic final which saw six crashes in total, the peloton of 115 riders took off in Gabala for the queen stage of the race from Gabala to Pirgulu. With a high pace and some climbs in the beginning of the race, the results of the crashes were visible with abandons in the first hour of the race.
After some attacks of smaller groups that never gained more than a few seconds on the peloton, with 65km to race a breakaway was formed by three riders: Jan Andrej Cully (Dukla Banska Bystrica), Manabu Ishibashi (Bridgestone Anchor) and initiator Simon Pellaud (Team Iluminate). The three worked well together, building a maximum gap of 4'45". In the chase behind the peloton broke in two and several riders were dropped as the pace increased when climbing the final climbs of the stage.
The final of the stage would decide the stage win and most probably the overall general classification, as riders tackled two final climbs - a 1st category and HC category to finish. The three leaders were eventually caught at the top of the first classified climb of the day by a group of chasers, with the first KOM points of the stage going to Ishibashi. After the descent, going into the final 30km, the four chasers - Ildar Arslanov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia), John Anderson Rodriguez Salazar (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) and Edwin Avila (Team Illuminate) - dropped the three leaders and built a lead of 1'35" on the reduced peloton.
Going into the final 20km and at the start of the final climb the four leaders had an advantage of 2'20" on GC leader Pozdnyakov. On the climb proper, the peloton started to splinter, and the four leaders were able to hold their gap to a select chase group that included Pozdnyakov. In the final sprint it was Avila who gave Team Illuminate a deserved win after the team's coordinated efforts and attacking display on the day.