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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018: Stage 4

Welcome to the Queen Stage! 181 km of up and down! We have seven, count 'em, seven ranked climbs on tap today!

96km remaining from 181km

85 km into the day, we have a group of six riders nearly three minutes ahead of the field. 

 

Those six riders are:13- Kiryenka (SKY), Hollestein (KAT), Rodríguez (CJR), Sáez (EUS), Camacho (PLK) and Insausti (EUK.

They have now started up the third climb of the day, the cat. 2 Tibi.

Heavy rain yesterday forced organizers to make some changes on the stage. The Team Time Trial was still held, but the results did not count towards the GC rankings.

Speaking of bad weather, there was snow yesterday on today's mountaintop finish. Well, there is still snow, but today the road is clear. 

 

Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise swept up all the points at the first climb of the day, the cat.3 La Garganta, in this order:

 

The day's second climb was the PM Maigmó (cat. 2) and it went this way:

1- Van Hecke (SVB)

2- Rodríguez (CJR)

3- Sáez (EUS)

4- Insausti (EUK)

It took a while for this group to form. As so often happens, many tried to get away, but Movistar put in a lot of work to stop them. After about 65 km, this group was able to make it work.

 

Just a reminder as to who is where in GC:

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leads by four seconds over Luis Leon Sanchez and six seconds over Jakob Fuglsang (both Astana). Fourth is Wout Poels, and fifth is Diego Rosa, both Team Sky and both at 29 seconds.

The mountain jersey may change hands today – or not, who knows? -- but going into today’s stage it belonged to Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias), who is ahead of Mathias Van Gomel (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and Valverde.

Tibi was also a cat. 2 climb and the points went to:

1- Van Hecke (SVB)

2- Rodríguez (CJR)

3- Insausti (EUK)

4- Kiryienka (SKY)

The gap is still at 2:52.

77km remaining from 181km

 It looks as if the gap is falling, now 2:20 after 104 km.

Yesterday’s TTT was an interesting one, since it was decided that it would not count towards the GC, due to bad weather conditions. Some teams went all out, like winner BMC, and others decided to play it safe and just get around the course with minimal damage. In the end, BMC won with a time of 27.24, with Astana second at 1:08 down and AGR third only four more seconds back.

 

 

Things will heat up here soon, with the cat. 1 La Carrasqueta looming at km 110. It is followed by two cat. 3 climbs and then we end up atop the cat. 1 Canteras de Cocentaina.

 

There is lots of racing going on today. For example, the World ‘cross championships in Valkenburg. The first title went to the Junior men, with Britain’s Ben Tulett taking the win. Right now the U-23 women are in action, and later we will have the Elite Women.

Tulett's brother Dan won silver here last year, so this is quite the family tradition. You can read here as to how Ben claimed gold. 

 

73km remaining from 181km

The six leaders must be flying up the mountainside (the gradients aren't all that bad), as they started with 2:20, moved it up to 2:33 and with only some 2 km to go to the top, have a gap of 2:57.

 

More gold for Britain on the 'cross bike, as Evie Richards has won the U23 Women's title. Unfortunately we hear she has collapsed after winning the title, but is of course receiving expert medical care. 

 

The day's first cat. 1 climb, La Carrasqueta, has been conquered, and in this order:

 1- Van Hecke (SVB)

2- Rodriguez (CJR)

3- Insausti (EUK)

4- Hollestein (KAT)

5- Kiryienka (SKY)

6- Saez (EUS)

 

69km remaining from 181km

And after 112 km, the gap is up to 3:00.

 

There is racing going on all over the world. Earlier today in the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) stormed to the lead by winning the Queen stage. 

 

And let us not forget the Etoile de Besseges, where Marc Sarreau (FDJ) leads the race after having won two of three stages. 

 

58km remaining from 181km

Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) has jumped from the peloton and has a few meters' gap.

 

We are happy to tell you that U-23 'cross World Champion Evie Richards is fine again and is on the podium to receive her gold medal.

 

Things are happening! The gap to the lead group has fallen to 2:02, and Kwiatkowski is at 1:50. 

 

53km remaining from 181km

The gap is indeed plummeting. The lead group now has only 1:09, and Kwiatkowski only some 10 seconds on the field. 128 km have been done.

 

48km remaining from 181km

Did we say plummeting? Now Kwiatkowski has 13 seconds on the field, and the lead group only 40 seconds. 

 

In other news, Zico Waeytens (Willem's Verandas) crashed on a bidon on Wednesday in Etoile de Besseges, was found to have a broken wrist and was to undergo surgery this morning. He was amused to discover the hospital carried the "Dumoulin" brand of hospital gown.....

 

Only 11 seconds now for Kwiatkowski.

 

The next climb is the cat. 3 Bennilup, and it looks like everything is coming back together. About 45 km to go.

 

The lead group has not yet been caught, as they took the points on the cat 3 climb. 

PM Benillup

1- Van Hecke (SVB)

2- Rodriguez (CJR)

3- Kiryienka (SKY)

We are at km 146 and the gap is 40 seconds.

 

Don't forget you can download the latest Cyclingnews podcast, right here. Listen as we go behind the scenes with Marcel Kittel's leadout train.

Out on the roads the conditions are much better than they were 24 hours ago. The sun is out there's no rain for the main field. 

 

31km remaining from 181km

Just over 31km to go and the break has split with the two Sky riders pulling the pace at the moment. That means that it's up to Astana and Movistar to do all the chasing.

 

The four leaders are Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky), Reto Hollenstein (Katusha-Alpecin), Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA).

 

The gap is down to under a minute now with 28km to go but there's no let up from the bunch as they look to hunt down this Team Sky controlled move. 

 

The four leaders are rapidly approaching the final climb of the day, with the gap holding at 56 seconds. Movistar seem content with the position at the moment but they still have plenty of road to play with. 

 

The four leaders are rapidly approaching the final climb of the day, with the gap holding at 56 seconds. Movistar seem content with the position at the moment but they still have plenty of road to play with. 

 

It's the two Sky riders who are continuing to set the pace as they look to soften up their rivals who are chasing. 

 

Movistar set the pace with Rojas. CCC are also up there and helping the pace setting duties. Valverde, in yellow, looks comfortable at this stage. 

 

22km remaining from 181km

22k to go and the gap is down to 45 seconds as Movistar continue to do the chasing. And here come Astana on the right hand side as they look to set up Fuglsang for the final climb. The Dane has started the season in decent form.

 

And here come Astana. A huge acceleration and that's cracked Movistar for the time being. Valverde is still there though. 

 

And Kiryienka cracks. A huge effort from the Team Sky rider. The three leaders have a gap but it's down to maybe 10 seconds and we're not even on the final climb yet.

 

Just 10 seconds for the leaders with Astana still bossing the front of the bunch. They've split the main field already with 18km to go.

 

Ag2R and Bahrain have put two men up the road qith 17km to go. Astana have sat up and that's allowed for a few riders to attack. There's another rider, this time from EF, who attacks.

 

It's Vanmarcke.  16km to go.

 

10km remaining from 181km

Now just 10km to go and the chasers link up with the leaders and Visconti has attacked from the group ahead of the final climb. Kwiatowski has gone after the Bahrain rider.

 

And the two leaders are working well together but they only have 13 seconds on the Valverde group. It's going to come down to the final climb as Astana once again set the pace.

 

AG2R again send a rider up the road before the climb. It's an admirable tactic but it's asking a lot. The rider has 10m but he's about to caught as Astana hunt him down. 7km to go.

 

And now Visconti is on his own, having dropped the Sky rider with 6km to go. The climb starts in around 1,000m.

 

17 seconds for Visconti.

 

5km remaining from 181km

We're onto the final climb and Visconti is holding a 17 second lead. Here's there to soften up Astana and the other GC rivals for his Bahrain teammates later on. 

 

And now BMC are setting the pace. Visconti is out of the saddle now and rising up the climb but he still has 5km to go.

 

3km remaining from 181km

Inside the final 3km now as Visconti is about to be caught. No one team are in control of the bunch but there's less than 30 riders left in contention. 

 

Fuglsang and Valverde are both there. Yates is there as well. Roglic sets the pace.

 

Down to around 14 riders now.

 

Roglic out of the saddle and powering up the climb. 

 

Team Sky Poels and Moscon are both starting to crack.

 

Just seven riders left in the front group and Amaro Manuel Antunes has attacked. Mitchelton are looking to shut the move down with 2km to go.

 

And Adam Yates has attacked. Fuglsang is pulling this back, but it's just giving Valverde a free ride for now.

 

Yates, Sanchez, Fuglsang, Roglic and Valverde. That's all we have left. 

 

More and more riders are coming back. Van Avermaet is also there for BMC, I think.

 

And Yates again goes but Sanchez closes it down. 

 

Astana go again and this time it's Valverde who marks the move with 1km to go.

 

The group has swelled to around 12 riders. 

 

All out of the saddle as the road once again rises. They're all watching each other and Amaro Manuel Antunes goes again.

 

Yates marks that move and then goes again. Now he has a gap.

 

This looks good with just over 1km to go. Roglic is chasing.

 

And Yates is still clear of the main field but Valverde is closing. 300m to go. 

 

250m to go and Valverde is closing.

 

Valverde is gaining. 

 

The catch is made. 

 

He's just playing with the field.

 

Valverde out of the saddle, he takes the stage win and the bonus seconds. Yates is second and Fuglsang is third.

 

 Finally, here are today's stage results.

 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 4:48:35
2 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:04
3 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:05
4 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:09
5 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:10
6 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:11
7 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:15
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:18
9 Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:00:24
10 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy 0:00:30

And here are the results on GC:

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 13:16:23
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:14
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:26
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:37
5 Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:48
6 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:49
7 Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:54
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:57
9 Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:01:03
10 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice 0:01:09

 

Over in Holland, Cant has won the women's world title in cross. You can read about it, see the images, and scan the results, right here.

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