Stage 4 - El Kelaa - Alnif

Alnif, Morocco - Thursday 6 October 2022

The second longest stage of Roc du Maroc today guaranteed 200% adventure in a spectacular landscape. Because let's face it, how often do you cross an entire mountain range by bike in 1 day? For many participants it was a long day of climbing and descending with fantastic views and, as icing on the cake, a sublime location for the bivouac. A nice reward for the suffer fest.

After today we leave the high mountains behind us for good. From the reactions of the jaded participants who crossed the finish line today, it is clear that no one is mourning this.

How the race was won

Today the riders crossed the Sahro mountains and were treated to long climbs, breathtaking views, and kilometers of descending gravel roads. In the final part of the stage, the riders also made it to the first sand sections of the week.

Stage winners, for the fourth time in a row, Michael Ossieur and Simon Stevens, were joined today by ex-pro Kristof Vandewalle. He participates in the Challenge but today decided to check how fast the people were driving at the front. “They are crazy. This was good for one day, but I wouldn't want to ride with them every day," he laughed at the finish. “I've wasted most of my strength in catching up with Simon and Michael over and over again. My heart rate was higher on those parts than uphill, need I say more?”

More than 24 minutes after the all-round and Men winners, the Master’s winners also crossed the line: “It was terrible,” Pascal Leplae and Benoît Hustinx tell their story. “That wind really bothered us in the beginning, the cooperation in our group didn't get going either. One minute everyone rode together nicely, the next they didn’t take over anymore. While it would have made such a difference in the headwind if we had been able to ride well in group there. But don’t get me wrong, apart from that, it was magnificent again, simply beautiful.”

The big smile on the tired faces of many finishers told and tacitly confirmed what Pascal and Benoît said: it was a very difficult but oh so beautiful stage.

Father and daughter, Andreas and Lien Suls, the only mixed duo in the race, also agreed: “This is really the most beautiful stage of the whole week. We started a bit conservative today because I've been having some stomach problems since yesterday and those guys always start extremely fast. I didn't want to blow all of my strength from the start, because of course I knew what was coming." Fun fact: Despite the cautious start, Lien and Andreas did improve their time from last year by 17 minutes. Well done!

Famous first words

- Are we really tenth today? I'm quite content with that!

- Epouvantable! Et magnifique a la fois.

- Seventh in our category? Well, then I didn't kill myself for nothing today!

- Man, my companion is strong. He always goes all the way and never backs down.

- I don’t think I ever went this deep, I am so, so tired. I even felt in the descent that I was less concentrated than usual.

- I don't think I'm made for this, for stage races (laughs).

Results Stage 4

1. Michaël Ossieur and Simon Stevens (leaders all-round and MEN) in 5:07:30

2. Bart Hoornaert and Dieter Verhaeghe (MEN) in 5:15:29

3. Sven Driesen and Vincent Meyvis (MEN) in 5:15:30

4. Korneel Monbailliu and Peter Van Praet (MEN) in 5:26:05

5. Benoît Hustinx and Pascal Leplae (winners and leaders MASTER) in 5:31:50

6. Sébastien Kestelyn and Paul Winnock De Grave (MEN) in 5:35:21

7. Chris Maes and Alex Moonen (MASTER winners) in 5:37:28

8. Ronald Boers and Jan-Willem Huising (GRAND MASTER) in 5:45:13

9. Vaast Bogaert and Diederik Libbrecht (GRAND MASTER) in 5:49:04

10. Christophe Bostyn and Kristof Saelens (MEN) in 6:07:07

Tomorrow will be the fifth and penultimate stage from Alnif to The Mummy, over a distance of 151 km and 404 altitude meters.

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