photo credits @ La Vuelta / Twitter
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) claimed stage 4 of this year’s Vuelta a Espana today, during a final uphill finish in Vejer de Lafrontera.
The Spanish rider came to the fore just shy of the final bend to snatch the stage victory from Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) – after Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) had led the way onto the final part of the undulating climb, before Valverde proved too fast.
Meanwhile, race leader Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) lost time on the stage, but held onto his red jersey as he finished in the day’s second group.
After a fast start, a six rider breakaway group containing Mickael Delage (FDJ), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nikolaes Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing), went on to open up a slight advantage over the peloton.
From there, the escapees proceeded to stretch out their lead to more than 13 minutes over the chase, making Irizar virtual leader on the road, before Orica-GreenEDGE took on pace-setting duties for Chaves.
However, a determined peloton being lead by Tinkoff-Saxo, eventually brought the gap down to a much more manageable lead, while Sagan was clearly fancying his chances for a victory.
With 32 kilometers remaining, several riders over shot one of the roundabouts, which in turn led to a large group of riders becoming ensnared in a pile up along the narrow roadway.
Van Garderen was one of the riders who had to be led back to the front, while compatriot Andrew Talansky also found himself having to chase his way back as well, after suffering a mechanical problem.
With 20 kilometers to go, Engoulvent and Irizar continued to press on, while Tinkoff-Saxo lead the chase in earnest.
However, as the race entered into the final 8 kilometers, the race as back together – with Tinkoff-Saxo once again leading the pace.
The sharp, right-hand bend onto the final climb saw the road kick up considerably though, with several riders suddenly ground to a halt on the steep slopes.
Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) hit the climb with a fierce pace, but the peloton quickly brought the curtains down on his efforts.
From there, Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros) was next to strike out alone, but Katusha controlled the bunch with Joaquim Rodriguez at the ready, while Valverde and Sagan remained close by.
However, Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing) read the road lay-out perfectly, subsequently launching an attack as the gradient kicked-up, while Roche countered his move.
Indeed, Roche passed Sanchez as they approached the final bend on the climb, but Valverde came up fast from behind too – quickly bridging across to the two leaders – with Sagan on his wheel.
In the end, Valverde’s timing was perfect, as the Spanish rider ultimately powered his way to the finish ahead of his Slovakian rival.
Stage 4 Results
ESP 1 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) 5:07:30
SVK 2 SAGAN, Peter (TINKOFF – SAXO)
ESP 3 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA)
IRL 4 ROCHE, Nicolas (SKY)
POR 5 GONÇALVES, José (CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA)
ESP 6 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA)
FRA 7 SIMON, Julien (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 3
POL 8 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO)
COL 9 QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR)
COL 10 CHAVES RUBIO, Jhoan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE)
FRA 11 HARDY, Romain (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
COL 12 HENAO MONTOYA, Sergio Luis (SKY)
NED 13 DUMOULIN, Tom (TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN)
ITA 14 POZZOVIVO, Domenico (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
GBR 15 FROOME, Christopher (SKY)
ESP 16 BILBAO LOPEZ DE ARMENTIA, Pello (CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA) + 6
ESP 17 LANDA MEANA, Mikel (ASTANA)
ITA 18 BRAMBILLA, Gianluca (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
FRA 19 JEANDESBOZ, Fabrice (EUROPCAR)
ITA 20 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA)
ESP 21 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, Samuel (BMC RACING)
ESP 22 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY)
IRL 23 MARTIN, Daniel (CANNONDALE – GARMIN)
ESP 24 SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (ASTANA)
LUX 25 SCHLECK, Frank (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 11
POR 26 CARDOSO, Andre Fernando S. Martins (CANNONDALE – GARMIN)
USA 27 CRADDOCK, Lawson (TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN)
POL 28 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
ESP 29 NAVARRO GARCIA, Daniel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 14
FRA 30 GAUTIER, Cyril (EUROPCAR) + 18
ESP 31 MAS BONET, Luis (CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA) + 24
RSA 32 JIM, Songezo (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 29
FRA 33 ELISSONDE, Kenny (FDJ) + 41
ESP 34 VERONA QUINTANILLA, Carlos (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
NZL 35 BENNETT, George (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
BEL 36 DE CLERCQ, Bart (LOTTO SOUDAL)
ITA 37 ROSA, Diego (ASTANA)
FRA 38 BOUET, Maxime (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
CRC 39 AMADOR BAKKAZAKOVA, Andrey (MOVISTAR)
COL 40 TORRES AGUDELO, Rodolfo Andres (COLOMBIA) + 45
General Classification after Stage 4
COL 1 CHAVES RUBIO, Jhoan Esteban (ORICA GreenEDGE) 13:11:34
NED 2 DUMOULIN, Tom (TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN) + 5
IRL 3 ROCHE, Nicolas (SKY) + 12
ESP 4 VALVERDE BELMONTE, Alejandro (MOVISTAR) + 25
IRL 5 MARTIN, Daniel (CANNONDALE – GARMIN) + 27
ESP 6 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER, Joaquin (KATUSHA) + 32
ESP 7 MORENO FERNANDEZ, Daniel (KATUSHA) + 33
COL 8 QUINTANA ROJAS, Nairo Alexander (MOVISTAR) + 36
GBR 9 FROOME, Christopher (SKY) + 40
ITA 10 ARU, Fabio (ASTANA) + 50
ESP 11 LANDA MEANA, Mikel (ASTANA) + 54
ESP 12 NIEVE ITURALDE, Mikel (SKY)
ITA 13 POZZOVIVO, Domenico (AG2R LA MONDIALE) + 1:04
COL 14 HENAO MONTOYA, Sergio Luis (SKY) + 1:06
ITA 15 BRAMBILLA, Gianluca (ETIXX – QUICK STEP) + 1:07
POR 16 CARDOSO, Andre Fernando S. Martins (CANNONDALE – GARMIN) + 1:12
POL 17 MAJKA, Rafal (TINKOFF – SAXO) + 1:14
ESP 18 SANCHEZ GIL, Luis Leon (ASTANA) + 1:17
RSA 19 JIM, Songezo (MTN – QHUBEKA) + 1:18
ESP 20 NAVARRO GARCIA, Daniel (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS) + 1:34
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