Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 4 of the Volta a Catalunya.
- Volta a Catalunya race preview
- Volta a Catalunya start list
- Contador takes on Froome and Valverde at Volta a Catalunya
- BMC awarded Volta a Catalunya TTT victory after Movistar penalised for pushing
- Valverde gets revenge with stage 3 victory at La Molina
- Volta a Catalunya stage reduced by 58km due to snow and cold weather
Hello and welcome to the action. As you may have seen, today's stage has been shortened by 58km due to snow at the original start in the heart of the Pyrenees.
The riders travelled down the valley by bus and started the 136km stage in the village of Montferrer. They found temperatures of 11C at the start instead of wet snow and 3/4C at the original start, with concerns of the long descent in the cold conditions.
For now the peloton is lined out on the fast road down the valley, with no escapes going clear.
181 riders started today, with Pascal Ackermann (Bora) the only non-starter, despite leading the sprints competition.
111km remaining from 136km
After 25km of fast racing on the descent, the peloton remains together.
Unfortunately Pieter Weening (Roompot) has been forced to abandon the race after a high-speed crash.
This is the updated stage profile, with the new start (salida real) indicated 58km down the original route.
As you can see the rolling profile suits a breakaway group but the sprinters and especially Andre Greipel of Lotto Soudal may fancy his chances.
We are starting to see some serious attacks now. A first group is pulled back but a second 10-rider move has opened a gap.
In there are José Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin), Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Diego Rubio (Caja Rural) and Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana Postobon).
However the peloton is refusing to let them go away.
@quickstepteam Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 13:51:56
The peloton has eased and seems to have had a change of heart. The gap is up to 1:45.
We'll have the full list of riders in the attack very soon.
We've listed the five riders in the break in our situation column. Check it out for their teams and the updated time gap to the peloton.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) is in the main peloton with his teammates helping control the break so they do not gain too much time.
@Movistar_Team Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 14:03:41
This images shows van Garderen in the leader's white and green leader's jersey on the podium after stage 3.
85km remaining from 136km
The first hour has been covered at a fast 45km/h.
It will be interesting to see how the break and the peloton handle the first climb of the day: the Alt del Pubill (3rd cat) after the fast descent from the Pyrenees.
While one peloton is racing in Spain, another is in action at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in Italy and riders are also in Belgium for tomorrow's very important E3 Harelbeke race on the cobbles.
The 2.7km climb has seen the peloton cut the gap to the break to 2:40, with Osorio first over the top.
To read about the morning road race stage at the Coppi e Bartali and see a gallery of images, click here.
Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo) took the win in Gatteo.
To read about yesterday's Volta a Catalunya stage and see the action via photo gallery, click here.
The climb to La Molina is hard but fast on a wide road, making a selection in the peloton before Valverde sprinted past Dan Martin to take the stage victory and the important time bonus.
The peloton is keeping the five-rider attack under control. the gap is down to 2:30.
@BMCProTeam Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 14:36:03
The sun is out on the race now as they head towards the hills behind Barcelona.
The two late climbs will shape the finale of the day and decide if the break stays away.
The break is working together smoothly but the gap is coming down as BMC and Lotto Soudal lead the peloton.
The peloton is closing in, with the gap down to 1:40. There are two climbs to come but Lotto Soudal seem confident that Greipel can handle them.
Our man Alasdair Fotheringham is at the finish and sent us some key info on the finale. It seems to suit Greipel's power.
"400 metres from the finish there is a sharp right hand turn and then a very gradual rising gradient to the finish, all on a straight, broad and well surfaced roads," Alasdair told us.
Van Garderen spoke briefly before the start of the stage. He knows he faces a fight to win the Volta a Catalunya.
"For sure it's a big task ahead of us but it's always nice to wear a jersey in a major stage race," he said.
"Of course they're going to attack us, I don't expect they'll let us take the jersey all the way to Barcelona. But I feel my form is good and I'm ready for the fight."
"There's a big climb to the finish on stage 6 but there are other big climbs and even the last day wont; be easy. We've got to be ready for anything."
50km remaining from 136km
As we reach the 50km to go point, the gap to the break is down to 1:30. Cofidis is also helping the chase now and thinking that Nacer Bouhanni has a chance to fight for victory in the sprint.
@TeamUAEAbuDhabi Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:08:55
@BMCProTeam Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:12:53
Thomas De Gendt is doing some big licks on the front for Greipel.
The peloton is playing cat and mouse with the break. The road is climbing again as they approach the 40km to go point.
The race is 5km from the intermediate sprint point. The pace is high now, with both the break and peloton in a tussle.
The Movistar team is also moving up and so the other GC contenders are active and watching him.
40km remaining from 136km
The pace is high because the road is wide and smooth as it rolls in the Catalan hills.
@Lotto_Soudal Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:25:46
The break makes it to the intermediate sprint in Calaf on a downhill section of road.
The break took little time to fight for the bonuses.
Indeed the speed has split the break, forcing Osorio to chase hard.
36km remaining from 136km
The tam cars are being pulled out from the behind the break, indicating the gap is below a minute.
We are soon to see the catch. And perhaps some action on the final climb.
Zakarin is down and in pain. It could be his collarbone.
Several Lotto Soudal and Cannondale riders are involved.
Most of the peloton avoided the crash and are back riding. Zakarin is back on his bike and riding again but it is unclear how much pain he is.
He was perhaps winded rather than any other injury.
@quickstepteam Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:36:41
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:37:35
The crash seemed to have been caused by riders touching after a roundabout split the peloton and then they came back together.
Zakarin has given the thumbs up and so does not seem injured. He was arguably lucky.
The consequence of the crash is that the GC teams are all trying to protect their leaders.
Movistar are on the front and setting a high pace. Quick-Step also doing the same on this approach to the final climb of the day.
25km remaining from 136km
The GC teams are fighting for position before the turn off the main road.
The road could explode very soon.
Orica-Scott are also protecting Adam Yates.
Here we go. The left turn lines out the peloton.
The speed means the break has been quickly swept up even if Osorio tries to stay clear.
20km remaining from 136km
The peloton has eased after the dangers of the tight turn. The real climb is about to start at 6.5%.
Osorio has been caught as the speed rises again.
Team Sky is near the front protecting Froome and Thomas.
@Lotto_Soudal Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 15:52:42
It will be fascinating to see who survives the climb and fights for stage victory.
Can Greipel make it over the top and sprint?
Attack. Astana make a move!
14km remaining from 136km
Cataldo leads Fuglsang on a double attack. The Italian forces the move away and the Dane pushes on.
Cataldo drops back but the peloton is chasing Fuglsang. He leads by just 50 metres.
Team Sky are up front chasing behind Orica-Scott and Movistar.
The descent will be fast and furious for the next 10km.
Bardet attacks! And Dan Martin follows him.
Here comes Contador, with Thomas. The race has exploded!
Van Garderen is in the front selection but its hard to get away as the climb eases.
The peloton is lined out with small gaps between riders.
Have any sprinters made it in the move?
Marc Soler of Movistar kicks to off now. He's in the best young rider's white jersey.
12km remaining from 136km
Valverde and Froome are coming across to Soler and a FSJ rider.
The descent is fast and twisting.
The riders are passing some wind turbines and descending like mad men.
This is a stunning descent to watch but the riders need nerves of steel to avoid touching their brakes.
10km remaining from 136km
The quartet of Froome, Soler, Valverde and Gaudu (FDJ) lead by 10 seconds.
Valverde is working hard with Soler to try and gain as much time as he can.
@TeamSky Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 16:05:59
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 16:05:15
Froome is logically not working to defend Thomas' overall hopes.
7km remaining from 136km
The four are moving fast but the peloton is on their tail, 100m behind.
Gaudu is the 20 year-old neo-pro but is showing his talents today.
4km remaining from 136km
The move looked good for a moment but has been caught.
Now it time to think about a late attack or the sprint finish.
Bouhanni is there, wearing his black helmet.
FDJ is riding for Cimolai.
3km remaining from 136km
As they take the final corners of the descent, there's no sign of Greipel.
2km remaining from 136km
Vichot is working for Cimolai but FDJ are running out of riders before the big roundabout.
Movistar are working to set up Valverde and Rojas.
500m to go.
Cimolai leads it out but Bouhanni was on his wheel and comes past him with a perfectly-timed sprint.
That was a good sprint from the Frenchman but an even better rider on the aggressive and hilly finale.
Daryl Impey takes third for Orica-Scott.
@TeamSky Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 16:14:35
Alex Edmondson was fourth for Orica-Scott.
There was a small gap in the peloton and Contador seemed to be behind it. We will see if he loses any time.
Nacer Bouhanni was happy to have won the sprint.
"I'm super happy with what the Cofidis team has done for me today and by helping me to win this race," he said.
"It was my fault on stage 1, I went too far out. I wasn't happy to lose by 2cm and so I really wanted to win today. I did what I needed to do."
The replays show that Bouhanni won it by more than a bike length.
There are no changes in the overall standings, with van Garderen still in the leader's jersey.
The American finished safely in the front group.
Van Garderen leads teammate Samuel Sanchez by 41 seconds, with Geraint Thomas third at 44 seconds, Alejandro Valverde fourth at 45 and Chris Froome fifth at 49 seconds.
This is the full top ten for the stage:
1 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 03:04:27
2 Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ
3 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott
4 Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Orica-Scott
5 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
6 Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
7 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
8 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
9 José Joaquín Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek - Segafredo
General Classification after stage 4:
1 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 13:29:00
2 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 00:00:41
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:44
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:00:45
5 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 00:00:49
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:10
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:13
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:01:18
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:25
10 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo.
Watching the replays of the finish, it seems that Contador was lucky that a FDJ rider filled the gap between the front group and his wheel. He could have risked losing a few seconds.
@TrekSegafredo Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 16:21:17
@TeamCOFIDIS Thu, 23rd Mar 2017 16:24:42
Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha crashed in the finale but he chased, got back on and didn't lose any time today.
This was the stage 1 sprint that Bouhanni was referring to. Today he got his revenge after a thrilling finale.
For a full report, results and photo gallery fro today stage, click here.
We'll also have lots of reaction interviews from the race on Cyclingnews as we analyse the late attacks of the stage and look forward to Friday's all important mountain stage when race leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC) will have to fight to defend his leader's jersey.
Thanks for joining us for the live coverage from the shortened stage.
We'll be back on Friday with more live coverage from the Volta a Catalunya and the E3 Harelbeke race in Belgium.
We're calling it fantastic Friday.
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