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Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2018: Stage 4


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Volta ao Algarve race preview

We have a sprint stage today, a long one with 199.2 km from Almodovar to Tavira. There are two small climbs (cat. 4) along the way, and it is a rolling course, but a nice flat finish.

We have a six-man break today: Benjamin King (Team Dimension Data), Rory Sutherland (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Bruno Silva (Efapel), Aleksandr Grigorev (Sporting-Tavira), and João Rodrigues (W52-FC Porto). They got away just under 7 km into the day, and halfway through the day, they have a lead of 3:20.

Jacopo Guarnieri (FDJ) did not start today.

Our race preview says: The following stage from Almodôvar to Tavira is another replication from last year’s race with the sprinters given their chance to shine. In 2017 it was Andre Greipel who came out on top in a close battle with John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo). The latter returns this year, along with Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).

As expected, KOM Ben King took the points at the Santa Marta climb at km 121.

Sky’s Geraint Thomas won the individual time trial yesterday, to increase his overall lead in the race. It was quite a day for Sky, with four riders in the top ten on the day.

There is not quite a minute between the top five in GC. Today shouldn’t make much difference, but tomorrow’s mountains could do so.

Kwiatkowski leads the points classification, but Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) is tied with him on points, 25. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) is only five points back in third place.

Ben King (Dimension Data) has joined the break group today to build up his lead in the mountains ranking. He has 15 points, ahead of Kwiatkowski (10) and Ricardo Mestre (W52-FC Porto).

54km remaining from 199km

Sam Oomen (Sunweb) leads the young rider ranking, and not surprisingly, Sky the team rankings.

Meanwhile, over in the Ruta del Sol, Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal won the stage and took over the race lead. 

We have 40km to go and the peloton looks to have no rush or pressure at the moment.

38km remaining from 199km

Dan Benson is at the race and chatted with a few riders before the stage.

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)

The gap is holding around the one minute mark, with 28 km to go. Still plenty of time for the field to catch those six leaders.

Nelson Oliveira (Movistar)

Sky is moving to the front of the field. They had a lot of luck yesterday, winning here and in Ruta del Sol. They weren't so lucky in Ruta today, losing the stage and the GC title. Plus, Christopher Froome had a puncture at a bad time and lost enough time to fall out of the top ten.

Louis Meintjes (Dimension Data)

20km remaining from 199km

Efapel is the first to fall out of the lead group.

Philipe Gilbert, a BMC rider and a Cofidis jump from the field, with the gap at 50 seconds.

Gilbert's companions are Dylan Teuns (BMC) and Guillaume Bonnafond (Cofidis),

16km remaining from 199km

Jasha Sutterlin of Movistar has moved up to the Gilbert group.

21 seconds now for the Gilbert group. We still have 13 km to go. We still suspect everything will come back together for a bunch sprint.

Bonnafond didn't want to take his turn at the lead, which the other three didn't appreciate. It almost broke up the group.

Things are very close now. The Gilbert group is only 7 seconds behind the leaders, and the peloton has them all in their sights. 10 km to go.

The lead group looks back and tries desperately to stay away. It doesn't work and they are caught. Bonnafond, however, has dropped back. 

7 km and 8 seconds.

Sam Oomen (Sunweb)

It is every man for himself in the lead goup now, with Gilbert leading the way. The catch will come any second now, with 4km to go.

3 km and everything together!

Lotto Soudal has taken control of things.

Bora-hansgrohe had moved up to the front but sees its sprinter is not around, and moves back. LottoNL-Jumbo, with Groenewegen, heads up towards the front.

Through the final turns, and Groenewegen leads the way. He takes the easy win!

it really was an easy win for Groenewegen, who had 2-3 bike lengths over second placed Matteo Palluchi. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) was third.

Looks like no changes in the GC.

This is of course Groenewegen's second stage win here. He won Stage 1 and was the first race leader.

Groenewegen had so much time in hand, he could look back to see where the others were and raise his arms in celebration.

Top ten on the stage:

Cyclingnews photographer Bettini has shot a superb sequence of images of the sprint. Here Groenwegen has just launched his sprint.

This image captures the moment Groenwegen leads by so much that he has time to check on his rivals.

Here Groenewgen celebrates his win and indicates which team dominated the sprint finish.

To see the full sequences of photos from the sprint, click here for our stage report and photo gallery.

Thanks for joining us for live coverage of the thrilling stage.  Join us tomorrow for live coverage of the final 173km road stage from Faro to Malhão.

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