Mark Cavendish narrowly missed out on his first win since returning from illness on the final stage of the Tour of Slovenia, which went to Ireland’s Sam Bennett.
Cavendish had been sidelined with glandular fever since the middle of March, but showed on Sunday that some of his form was returning just a couple of weeks before the Tour de France gets underway.
He had finished 10th behind Bennett in Thursday’s opening stage, then cruised home on Friday after a mechanical issue late on before finishing 24 minutes down in Saturday’s mountain stage.
But Cavendish (Dimension Data) looked more like himself in Sunday’s uphill finish in Novo Mesto, albeit clearly upset when he lost out in the closing metres to Bennett.
Bennett’s Bora-Hansgrohe team had plenty to celebrate, with his team-mate Rafal Majka winning the overall prize after having claimed victory in the summit finish at Rogla on Saturday.
Cavendish is set to race on home soil next weekend when the British National Road Race Championships take place in the Isle of Man.
Should he be selected by his team, Cavendish will head to the Tour de France start line in Dusseldorf looking to add to his 30 stage victories, four short of Eddy Merckx’s all-time record.
Stage 4 result:
1 Sam Bennett (Ire) Bora-Hansgrohe 3hr 41min 48sec
2 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) Team Dimension Data same time
3 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Merida +1s
4 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Willier Triestina same time
5 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates same time
1 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 15hr 16min 23sec
2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain Merida +7s
3 Jack Haig (Aus) Orica-Scott +17s
4 Gregor Muhlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe +35s
5 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) ROG-Llubljana +46s