Mattias Skjelmose also finishes in the front group to cement 5th place overall in La Route d’Occitanie
Matteo Moschetti ended the Team’s four days in France with a close second place, inches from being declared the winner. He played the finish as perfectly as possible, playing off the sprint train of Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) and showing incredible patience, but just when he thought he had his 3rd victory of the season in his pocket, Niccolo Bonifazio (TotalEnergies) pipped him at the line.
On paper, Stage 4 of La Route d’Occitanie was supposed to be a mostly straight-forward day for the sprinters with a flatter second half, but out on the road strong winds created havoc and blew apart the bunch.
Matteo Moschetti and Mattias Skjelmose, who was coming into the final day in 5th overall, were attentive to the danger, joining the first echelon that contained all the top GC rivals and the fast sprinters.
There was little incentive for a regrouping with most teams having their key riders represented up front, and the race settled for the final 50 kilometers.
In the sprint, Viviani jumped first. While Matteo overtook Viviani on his right, somehow, Bonifazio found open space on the left side barriers to snatch away what looked like a certain victory.
“After we passed the 2 climbs of the day we hit the flat part where it was quite windy and the bunch completely exploded. I was in the front with Mattias, which was good for the GC. A few guys caught back, so we were 25-27 guys in the front.
“In the end, I was just hanging on in the small climbs in the last kilometers. I tried to keep good position in the last kilometers I followed the Ineos lead-out train. Viviani launched his sprint and I was waiting, waiting, waiting. Then I launched mine and I was almost sure I had the win, but yeah…I missed a bit in the last meters and Bonifazio passed me.
“Disappointed to not get the win, but on the other side we had a nice team performance again and Mattias showed that he is fucking strong. We came home with a second, a bit disappointing, but now I focus on the next week.”
With the top of GC separated by seconds, Mattias stayed at the front in the fast finish. The Danish climber sprinted to 6th and sealed his 5th place in the overall classification, a respectable showing against an elite field in France.