Samuel Sanchez claimed stage 4 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco today, after administering a blistering counter attack to Albert Contador’s aggressions during today’s final uphill finish.
As a result of today’s standings, race leader Mikel Landa (Astana) was forced to concede his yellow leader’s jersey to LottoNL – Jumbo’s Wilco Kellerman, who moved up into the overall lead, after finishing ahead of his Colombian rival today.
An early breakaway group containing Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Christopher Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) and Angel Vicioso (Katusha), enjoyed being out front with a comfortable margin for most of today’s stage.
However, once inside of the final 20 kilometers, the escapees’ advantage had dwindle to just around one minute over the peloton.
With 15 kilometers to go, Roman Kreuziger attacked from within the ranks of the peloton along one of the many short, steep climbs, subsequently opening up a slight gap for himself.
But, Team Sky was sure to keep the Czech rider within sight at all times, while Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Soudal) tried to make a go of it as well.
Back up front, Verona decided to jettison his breakaway companions and ride clear, while Wellens tried to latch onto the Etix-QuickStep rider’s wheel in earnest.
Behind in the peloton, Henao initiated an attack along the super-steep 29% grade of the final climb, while Contador and Nairo Quintana remained locked in stiff competition with one another.
Once the incline eased, Contador, Quintana, and Henao managed to reach the two leaders. However, a determined Verona attacked once again, quickly opening up a slight along the descent.
With the peloton coming back together along the final descent, Wellens attacked in an effort to bridge his way back up to Verona, while Luis Maté (Cofidis) shadowed his move.
It wasn’t along before the duo caught Verona during the final 3 kilometers. But, a lack of organization between the lead trio, allowed the peloton to reel them back in.
At that moment, Contador surged, with his move being quickly marked by Henao.
With less than a kilometer to go, Sanchez commenced a blistering counter-move, that saw the Spanish rider open up a quick gap over the crest of the final climb.
From there, Sanchez succeeded in sprinting his way to victory, finishing just ahead of a select group of climbers and GC favorites, to seize the stage win.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 4:13:12
2 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida
3 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
4 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
10 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha
General classification after stage 4
1 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 17:52:48
2 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:04
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:07
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:08
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:10
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:12
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre – Merida 0:00:14
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
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