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Itzulia Basque Country stage 4 - live coverage

Itzulia stage 4

(Image credit: Itzulia Basque Country)
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-120km

Cristian Rodriguez (TotalEnergies), Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Mauri Vansevenant (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost), Tsgabu Grmay (BikeExchange-Jayco), Ruben Fernandez (Cofidis), Mark Donovan (DSM), Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Oscar Rodriguez (Movistar), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), Mikel Iturria (Euskadi-Euskaltel) and Felix Grossschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) escaped after 20km or so of racing.

Kern-Pharma have joined Jumbo-Visma in setting the pace at the head of the peloton. Primoz Roglic carries the yellow jersey, 5 seconds up on Remco Evenepoel and 14 ahead of Aleksandr Vlasov. 

General classification after stage 3

-114km

-106km

Pello Bilbao denied Julian Alaphilippe a second successive win in yesterday's gripping finale in Amurrio, pipping the world champion in the sprint. As on Tuesday, Remco Evenepoel played a key role in teeing up Alaphilippe, and QuickStep-AlphaVinyl will hope that duo can combine to similar effect in the Ardennes Classics. "It was incredible," Evenepoel said of yesterday's finale. "The two major climbs in the final were really hard. It was actually really tough to hang on, especially when Yates put in an attack on the [second] climb, it was really hard. I just tried to put a really big pace to at least hang on with the group." Read more here.

-95km

The shift in date of Paris-Roubaix for this year has also slightly altered the rhythm of the Spring. The Circuit de la Sarthe is taking place this week with a number of Roubaix contenders using the French race to keep their form ticking over for the big appointment a week on Sunday. There are doubts, however, about Peter Sagan's participation in Paris-Roubaix after he was forced to abandon the race on stage 2. It is rare indeed for Sagan to pull out of a race of any description. "As far as I know, it’s the first time he abandons a stage race other than because of a crash. Paris-Roubaix is the next race on his calendar," his spokesperson Gabriele Uboldi said. "It’s not yet decided if he will do it or not, but looking at how riders like Pedersen are going here, it seems difficult for Peter to get back in shape on time to challenge him.” Jean-François Quénet has all the details here.

-82km

-73km

-70km

Situation

Jumbo-Visma continue to set the tempo in the peloton. This climb's relatively gentle gradients shouldn't cause too many issues in the bunch, but the high tempo to this point will surely weigh on the legs come the rather punchier climbs in the finale this afternoon.

Felix Grossschartner loses contact with the front group on the climb of Jata. Meanwhile, Cristian Rodriguez (TotalEnergies) sets out in pursuit of the king of the mountains points on offer at the summit. 

-57km

Cristian Rodriguez led his namesake Oscar and Mikel Iturria over the summit of Jata, while the Jumbo-Visma controlled peloton crested the top of the climb just over three minutes back.

-53.5km

Grosschartner, dropped from the break on the climb of Jata, is caught by the Jumbo-Visma-led peloton. 

-49km

Grmay looks fully committed to this solo effort, and the Ethiopian has built a lead of half a minute over his erstwhile companions. They may be hoping the rugged terrain will doom this move, but he is dealing well with the rolling roads for the time being.

-47km

That looks like an increasingly smart move from Grmay, who perhaps sensed there would be little collaboration in the break. He is happily padding out his advantage on the rest of the break, though the speed is ratcheting up in the peloton behind, with Ineos also moving up on behalf of Adam Yates. Ineos also, of course, have Geraint Thomas posted in the group just behind Grmay.

-43km

-42km

-40km

Grmay is on the climb. The road is viciously steep and the road is also very, very narrow, which makes positioning of pivotal importance. Julian Alaphiilippe figures the safest place to be is at the very head of the bunch.

Alaphilipp and Evenepoel are well placed at the head of the bunch alongside a strong Jumbo-Visma delegation. Sepp Kuss takes up the reins as the climb begins...

Grmay is struggling to keep the gear turning over, and he is caught by Ruben Guerreiro (EF-EasyPost), Geraint Thomas (Ineos) and Victor Lafay (Cofidis). They move past the Ethiopian and move to the head of the race on this harsh climb.

The bunch is now 1:30 down on the three news leaders, Guerreiro, Thomas and Lafay, but the pace is relatively steady on the early slopes of the Urruztimendi.

Bruno Armirail has come past Grmay and made it up to Lafay, Thomas and Guerreiro, leaving four riders at the head of the race in the final kilometre of the climb of Urruztimendi. This quartet has 1:33 in hand on the bunch. 

-38km

Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ), Victor Lafay (Cofidis), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost) lead over the summit of Urruztimendi, and they appear to have distanced the rest of the day's early break. Armirail was first over the top, and these four riders have 1:43 in hand on the bunch. Their hopes of fighting it out for stage victory are still alive, though it all depends on how the bunch tackles the final ascent of Vivero. 

There was a fierce battle for positions ahead of Urruztimendi, but the GC riders have been happy to take the climb on together. It remains to be seen if that détente will hold on the day's final ascent of Vivero.

Lafay, Thomas, Armirail and Guerreiro are collaborating quite smoothly and they have opened their lead on the bunch out to two minutes. All of a sudden, the break's prospects of fighting out the stage honours appear to be rising.

-32km

-31km

The seven leaders pass through the finish line in Zamudio for the first time with a lead of 2:42 in hand on the bunch. The road rises slightly in the final kilometre, though the key moment in this finale comes on the 6km ascent of Vivero.

Bruno Armirail began the day 2:45 off the yellow jersey, and he is just about the virtual race leader right now, though Jumbo-Visma will surely slice that advantage on this final lap.

-28km

-26km

-25km

Geraint Thomas take up the reins on the lower slopes of the climb but the previous spirit of collaboration in this move appears to have dissipated slightly.

Grmay and the riders dropped from the break have been caught by the bunch, which is being led by Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos).

Out in front, Victor Lafay (Cofidis) attacks on the 14% slopes at the foot of the climb. Armirail comes with him, and this French tandem has a gap over the rest of the break. The bunch, meanwhile, drops to within 1:02.

Victor Lafay presses on alone at the head of the race as Armirail struggles to match his pace. The rest of the break is splintered along the hillside behind them.

Back in the bunch, TotalEnergies set the pace and now Pierre Latour accelerates... Primoz Roglic and Adam Yates are prominent in the reduced bunch that follows him.

Now Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) presses on from the bunch and he opens a small gap over Roglic, Yates et al. Roglic is content to let the Italian go, but he immediately follows when Latour kicks again.

Out in front, Victor Lafay is all alone and dealing quite smoothly with the stiffest part of this climb. He still has 4km of climbing to go, but he has a decent lead over the rest of the break and a buffer of 1:19 over the yellow jersey group.

-23km

-22.5km

Victor Lafay is through the steepest part of the climb, though the upper reaches are not devoid of difficulty. The Frenchman is pedalling very smoothly. Armirail, Thomas and Guerreiro are his immediate chasers...

In the yellow jersey group, Remco Evenepoel shuts down a Bahrain Victorious move on the climb. The steepest section is past, and this strongman's plateau over the top might be better suited to the Belgian's qualities. 

-21km

Remco Evenpoel sets a very brisk pace at the head of the yellow jersey group. He stretches things out considerably, but it will be difficult to create separation on these gradients...

And, at that, Julian Alaphilippe rides along the gutter and accelerates viciously... Only Dani Martinez can come with him, but now Jonas Vingegaard scrambles across in pursuit...

Martinez, Alaphilippe and Vingegaard have opened a gap of 5 seconds or so over the yellow jersey group. Vingegaard is not contributing for now, and Movistar are managing to keep the gap at just a handful of seconds.

-19km

Alaphilippe, Martinez and Vingegaard are brought back nearr the top of the climb, but still the world champion doesn't relent. Alaphilippe kicks again in a bid to force clear, but the slopes are too gentle to split things here.

Alaphilippe continues to drive the 40-strong yellow jersey group on the descent off Viivero. They are 1:11 down on the leader Lafay.

-17km

-15km

-13km

-11km

-10km

-9km

-8km

-7.5km

It appears that Pierre Latour was the unfortunate faller from TotalEnergies, and that will be very costly for his GC hopes. 

-6km

-5km

The gap drops to 32 seconds, though it's unclear if the time gaps reported are reliable. Lafay still looks to be pedalling well, but it's not certain if that will be enough...

-3km

-2.5km

-2km

The chasers can't afford a moment's hesitation, however. And at that, Evenepoel takes over the chase on behalf of Alaphilippe...

-1km

What a show of force from Evenepoel, who leads into the final 300 metres...

Dani Martinez opens the sprint from distance ahead of the final chicane...

Julian Alaphilippe closes, but he has ground to make up...

Daniel Martinez (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 4 of Itzulia Basque Country

Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) was second, just the width of a tyre behind. Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) took third ahead of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), who retains the overall lead.

Result

General classification

Daniel Martinez on his victory: “The finale was very hard and the rivals were very hard to beat, riders of great quality like Alaphilippe. But I felt good and I had good legs and I wanted to go for the sprint. When I saw nobody was going for it before 200 metres to go, I decided to go for it.

Itzulia Basque Country 2022 - 61st Edition - 4th stage Vitoria Gasteiz - Zamudio 185,6 km - 07/04/2022 - Daniel Martinez (COL - INEOS Grenadiers) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

(Image credit: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

Julian Alaphilippe on a second successive second place: “Honestly at the summit of the final climb, I didn’t think we’d bring back the break. I heard it was Victor Lafay who was still in front and he’s a very strong rider. I wanted to try for the win but I would also have been happy if Victor had won. But in the end, Remco did a great job again. My legs were good but I was just missing a little something. I don’t know what was missing. My confidence was missing a little, even if I won a couple of days ago, which did me good. But you can’t win every day either.”

Itzulia Basque Country 2022 - 61st Edition - 4th stage Vitoria Gasteiz - Zamudio 185,6 km - 07/04/2022 - Daniel Martinez (COL - INEOS Grenadiers) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

(Image credit: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency)

A full report, results and pictures from today's stage are available here.

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