Having had a run of bad luck thus far at Paris-Nice, Johann Tschopp refused to be defeated, and rather responded like any champion by going on the attack in the challenging fourth stage from Brioude to Saint-Vallier (199 km), won by his compatriot Michael Albasini (Orica GreenEDGE).
With his determination and strong climbing legs, the rider from the Valais region in Switzerland broke away along with two other riders after only 8 kilometers of racing. With six categorized climbs, five of which he crested first to gather top points, Tschopp (30 years old) collected 29 points in the King of the Mountain competition, winning him and IAM Cycling the lead in the classification.
After such an effort, Tschopp was dropped up the final climb just 9 kilometers from the finish once the race for the stage and GC kicked in; nevertheless Tschopp was able to express satisfaction with the way his day unfolded.
“I had a good day. The sun joining us again changed our fortunes and I was in my element. I made the first attack on my own with two other guys hanging onto my wheel before Voeckler came back to us. After that, I just focused on the climbs and was able to take enough points to have a lead in the classification. It is important for the team that we prove that we can play a solid role in the main action of important races. Now I will concentrate on recovering and considering our tactics for the rest of the race. This jersey is very important for us and we hope to defend it until Sunday.”
Directeur Sportif, Eddy Seigneur praised the diehard determination of his rider who refused to give up in spite of the race until now not going his way: “Johann was able to slip into the break, and as a climber in a difficult stage like this, he succeeded in reaping his reward. With 12 points ahead of Voeckler, he has a realistic chance to defend the jersey. We will play it day by day.”
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