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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 4 – Live coverage

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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Today's stage finishes atop the Sierra de Bernia. 

Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) leads the Spanish stage race after taking fifth on the stage 2 uphill finish and in the two sprint finishes.

Today's 170km stage will culminate with the ascent of the gruelling Sierra de Bernia (5.3km, 11.9%), a climb whose maximum ramps exceed 20%.

As we join the action with the Cyclingnews blimp, there are six riders away, including Matteo Trentin and Greg van Avermaet of the CCC Team.

The six are:  Bilbao (BAH) Carboni (BCF) Declerq (DQT) Serrano (CJR) Van Avermaet (CCC) Trentin (CCC).

The peloton is at 2:50.  

This was the roll out of the stage in the warm Spanish sun. 

Here's Jack Haig in the leader's jersey on the start line.

This profile of the stage shows just how hard the Sierra de Bernia climb is. 

Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana

(Image credit: Twitter)

After 50km of racing, the break leads by 2:40. 

It's another busy day of racing around the globe. To catch up with the Herald Sin Tour, click here. 

Race leader Jai Hindley (Sunweb) took his second stage victory at this year's Australian stage race on the summit finish at Mount Buller, Victoria, on Saturday, and in doing so extended his advantage in the general classification to 10 seconds over St George Continental's Sebastian Berwick.

After 70km of racing, the riders are climbing into the hills.  They face three testing climbs, with the climb of Tudons touching 1000m and 6.9km long. 

We have a correction, it is not Trentin in the break with van Avermaet but Nathan Van Hooydonck.   

The six riders are in the break are: 

Greg van Avermaet and Nathan Van Hooydonck (CCC Team), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren), Tim Declerq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Gonzalo Serrano (Caja Rural).

Txomin Juaristi (Fundación - Orbea) has been distanced. 

The peloton is riding tempo and keeping the break under control at 2:50. 

Meanwhile in the Saudi Tour, Phil Bauhaus has snatched overall victory by winning the final stage. He moved across the road, causing Nacer Bouhanni to ease up twice but kept the stage victory and won thanks to the time bonus. 

For results click here and a photo of the sprint, click here. 

Today's finish will be a real test of strength and form. These are the final metres. 

The next 40km will see the peloton chase the break and begin to prepare for the final climb to the finish. Positioning will be key.

This is the climb up to the finish. 

And this is the final 1500m of the climb to the finish. Brutal! 

This was the break on a descent a few minutes ago. They seem to be enjoying the sun.

It's lunch time as the kilometres tock down.

There are 75km to go. This is the breakaway, with Tim Declerq leading the way.

The break still leads by 2:40 but the chase is on.

Golden Greg van Avermaet is working hard in the break. He perhaps knows he has little chance of staying away but is looking for a hard day in the saddle as he works on his sprint form. 

Mitchelton-Scott are leading the chase to protect Jack Haig's leadership. Behind them we  can see the UAE,  Movistar and Tam Ineos squads lined out protecting Pogacar, Valverde and Kwiatkowski.   

It's hard in the saddle but the local riders and fans at the top of the final climb seem to be enjoying themselves.

40km to go.

The high pace in the peloton has reduced the gap to 1:30 with 33km to go.

The peloton is lined out as it sweeps through the olive groves and huge green houses and holiday buildings. 

However the breakaway riders are refusing to give up, working smoothly to try to stay away. It's a fast dash to the foot of the final climb.

25km to go!

The gap is down to 1:20 as the peloton ups the pace even more.

The road is flat and fast until the 5.1km climb up to Sierra Bernia. The climb has an average of 12 % with steep corners and easier sections.

20km to go.

As the road rises, the break's lead falls. It is less than a minute now.But they fight on.

An important reminder, there are no time bonuses at the finish of stages at the VCV. Every second won or lost out on the road and today's finish counts.  

15km to go. 10km to the foot of the final climb!

Serrano and Carboni have been dropped from the break, leaving just four riders up front. The peloton is at 30 seconds.

10km to go as Astana take over at the head of the peloton.

This is the gradient of the final climb. Look at all that red! 

8km to go. The peloton can almost see the break up the road now. 

Here we go! The climb starts with a bang. 

Nathan Van Hooydonck has been dropped but Bilbao, van Avermaet and Declerq refuse to give up. 

But here comes the peloton packed with all the overall contenders.

4km to go. 

British champion Ben Swift is doing the early work for Ineos.

Haig is just behind the Ineos trio.

Van Avermaet pushes on alone but he's going to be caught very soon.

Vamos, Vamos! Venga, Venga! The local crowd cheer on the riders from the roadside.  

3km to go! 

Van Avermaet is going deep.

The road has fresh asphalt, making it perfect for racing and riding.

Ineos take control in the peloton and Bilbao is caught. Only Golden Greg remains out front from the break of the day.

Pogacar is there, Haig too but Valverde is losing ground. 

Boom! Pogacar surges away. It's early but he's got a gap.

Tao Geoghegan Hart of Ineos tries to limit the damage but is suffering. 

Poels and Teuns are there for Bahrain.

Pogacar stomps on the pedals to fight the gravity. He's decided to ride his own high-speed race off the front. 

Pogacar leads by 100m. He seems stronger than the others.

The road steepens, splitting the chase group. The 20 % graident makes it a battle of strength against gravity. 

2km to go, 2km to climb.

As the gradient eases, Pogacar spins his legs a little. He seems in total control. 

1km to go. The chase group has reformed but Pogacar is away alone.  

Dan Martin attacks behind in pursuit. 

The gradient has eased, helping Martin close the gap a little. 

Martin is at his limit and closing the gap but might not catch Pogacar before the finish.

Pogacar stays in the saddle to put down max power. He's riding to victory. 

This is a steep and nasty climb. 

500m to go! 

Poels kicks but Pogacar is nearing the finish.

Tadej Pogacar of UAE wins the stage! 

Poels holds on to take second a few seconds back.

Tao Geoghegan Hart is also there, plus Haig. 

However Pogacar is the new race leader with one stage to race. 

That is Pogacar's tenth career win. He's only 21 but has already won the Tour of California, three stages at the Vuelta and the 2018 Tour de L'Avenir. He won three stages and finished third overall at the 2019 Vuelta a Espana- his first ever Grand Tour. 

As riders cross the line, they are pushed by race staff and their soigneurs, such is the steep finish. 

A road sign shows a gradient of 20%. It definitely was!

This is one of the first images of Pogacar winning.

And this is the top ten for the stage. 

Initial results show that Pogacar finished six seconds ahead of his rivals, despite attacking early. He will pull on the new yellow leader's jersey. 

Sunday's Paterna  to  Valencia stage is largely flat and only 97km long, giving him a strong chance of overall victory.

Valverde finished more than a minute behind, age seems to be catching up with him. That's a piti. 

Stage results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
2Wout Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren
3Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Ineos
4Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation
5Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
6Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren
7Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team
8Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana Pro Team
10Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea

Pogacar pulls on the leader's jersey.

Pogacar also pulls on the orange combinada jersey ands the white best young rider jersey. 

The UAE team are already celebrating. 

Meanwhile other riders, including the sprinters and Dylan Groenewegen are just reaching the finish, careful to finish inside the time limit and save their legs for Sunday's final stage.

The new GC
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 16:38:28
2Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:06
3Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Ineos
4Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00:13
5Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:23
6Wouter Poels (Ned) Bahrain McLaren 0:00:25
7Ion Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:32
8Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Fundacion-Orbea 0:00:49
9Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:01:11
10Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:14
11Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Ineos 0:01:19
12Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:22
13James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-Quickstep
14Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:36
15Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:43

Thanks for joining us for live coverage from the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. That was a huge performance by Pogacar. 

To read our full report and see our growing stage report, click here.

We'll be back on Sunday with more live coverage from the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. We'll also have reports and photos from all the other race plus the latest news and interviews. 

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