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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2017: Stage 4

Welcome to our live coverage of stage 4 of the Ruta del Sol. We have Alejandro Valverde back in the lead, with the narrowest of leads over Alberto Contador.

 

 

Welcome back to the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol! Stage four is a lumpy one, at least in the middle. Roughly the final third is just about as flat as can be, so we look for another exciting sprint finish.

The day’s break group formed after 27 km. The lucky riders are: Martijn Keizer (Lotto-Jumbo), Diego Rubio (Caja Rural), Jerome Cousin (Cofidis), Lukasz Owsian (CCC), Martijn Budding (Roompot) and Jens Walays (Sport Vlaanderen). At last report they had a gap of 2:20.

The first ranked climb of the day came at km 52.4, the Puerto de Las Minas (cat. 3), and the points went to Budding, Wallays and Cousin, in that order.

It will be difficult for today’s stage to top yesterday’s dramatic action, which saw Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) move into a one-second lead over Alberto Contador (Trek Segafredo). Lost in those headlines was Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-Jumbo), who actually won the time trial ahead of, you guessed it, Valverde and Contador.

Benat Txoperena (Euskadi) has abandoned the race.

 

The second climb was the cat. 2 Puerto de Constantina. It went to Budding, ahead of Wallays, Owsian and Rubio.

Some 70 km into the stage, the gap has crept up to 2:30.

 

 

The top five coming into today’s stage:

1 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 9:01.34

2 Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) +0.01

3 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +0.06

4 Wout Poels (Sky) +0.21

5 Diego Rosa (Sky) +0.45

The intermediate sprint at Cazallo de la Sierra was won by Keijzer ahead of Owsian and Budding.

 

Valverde leads the points ranking with 61 points, ahead of Pinot (48) and Contador (46).

King of the Mountains so far is Georg Preidler (Sunweb), followed by Daniel Turek (Israel Cycling Academy) and who else but Valverde.

Alasdair Fotheringham is at the race for us and tells us this about the finish:

Identical stage finish to the one where Bennati won stage 1 of the race last year, in a bunch sprint. Flat and on broad avenues, although there is a very slight rise in the final 500 metres. Finish is technical, swings round the side of a big park in the middle of Seville and there’s a sharp chicane in the last 300 metres.

Weather is warm, around 20 degrees. Clear skies. Only a little wind.

79km remaining from 179km

100 km down on the day, and the gap is holding steady at 2:25. The sprinters aren't going to let this one get away from them.

 

Contador might have won the time trial yesterday, but there was this dog, you see....

 

Valverde leads this race by a less-than whopping one second, and is not about to take the overall victory for granted.

 

65km remaining from 179km

With 65 km to go the gap has dropped under two minutes. 

 

Sadly, cycling must also face up to the realities of the world situation these days. The Belgian Classics are preparing to counter any possible terrorism problems. 

 

The Tour of Oman had its Queen Stage today, with the finale atop the Green Mountain. Race leader Ben Hermans took the win to cement his overall lead. 

 

80km remaining from 179km

The peloton has never let this group get very far away, and although there are still 80 km to go, they are starting to pull them back. The gap is down to only 1:36.

 

Update from the finish: 

Weather is getting noticeably cooler and cloudier at the finish. Still no wind.

37km remaining from 179km

The group is all together, less then 40 km to go and a gap of 1:42. 

 

We had one non-starter today, Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida). He crashed yesterday in the time trial but fortunately came out with no serious injuries. 

 

Now the field has apparently decided it is time to gather in the escapees. 33km and 1:18.

 

Warren Barguil (Sunweb) is opening his season at this race, but his eye is on the Classics. He missed them last year but the Ardennes are now his top priority. 

 

29km remaining from 179km

We are under 30 km and under one minute 

 

Rubio isn't ready to get caught, and takes off from the lead group.

 

The lead group has gathered Rubio back in.

 

Everything points to a bunch sprint coming up. Who will it be? Coquard, Felline, Hoffman, or ???

 

Direkt Energie at the head of the field. 

 

15km remaining from 179km

15 km and an ever smaller gap. Movistar is also near the front of the peloton, protectively around Valverde. 

 

The gap is hovering around the 30 second mark.

 

The peloton is spread out across the entire road. The pace does not appear to be particularly high at the moment but that will certainly change soon.

 

WE have passed the 10km-to-go marker.

 

There was a very large and rather strange crash in Oman this morning, as the road flooded. Yes, in the desert. 

 

6.6km and still 20 seconds. No doubt the break group is still holding on to hopes of staying away to the end. 

 

The lead group has worked well together so far but now that is over, as they all scramble to survive.

 

Only 3 in front, only a few seconds ahead of teh field. And now only one. 

 

Cousin is the last to be caught with 3.2km to go.

 

The lead-outs are settign up, and we have only 1km to go.

 

Coquard starts the sprint, from rather far out, and is able to hold on to it for the win!

 

It was HOfland who went first for the sprint, but Coquard was able to power his way past him.

 

It was HOfland who went first for the sprint, but Coquard was able to power his way past him.

 

Second was not Hofland but Daniel Hoelgaard of FdJ, with Hofstetter of Cofidis third.i´

Top ten on the stage:

1 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie

2 Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) FDJ 

3 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits

4 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal

5 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij

6 Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy

7 Roman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo

8 Maxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise

9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac

10 Eduard Prades (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA

No changes in the GC after today. Valverde still leads by one second over Contador, with Pinot third at six seconds. 

 

The GC going into the final stage: 

1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 13:12:07

2 Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:01

3 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:06

4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:21

5 Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky 0:00:45

6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:48

7 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ 0:00:52

8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:29

9 Ondrej Cink (Cze) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:48

10 Javier Moreno (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:01:50

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