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Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2018: Stage 4

Hello and welcome to the action. Today's stage ends with a nasty cobbled climb up to Alcalá de los Gazules.

We join the race mid-stage as the riders tackle the big climb of the day. 

 

The Puerto de las Palomas is a huge climb, reaching 1200m. However with more than 90km left to race, it is not expected to affect the overall classification. 

 

After three stages, this is the top ten overall, with Wout Poels (Team Sky) in the leader's red jersey after his stage 2 victory.

 

 

1 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 12:48:00
2 Luis León Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:04
5 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:17
7 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:27
8 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 0:00:34
9 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:38
10 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40

 

Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) won stage 3 on Friday. 

 

To catch up with the action, click here to read our full stage report and see our photo gallery.  

 

 

85km remaining from 194km

As expected the climb has split the break and the peloton.

 

Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and teammate Marco Minaard lead over the summit, taking most of the points. 

 

This clearly a planned attack by the Belgian squad.

 

 

The two attacked at the foot of the climb and opened a 40-second gap. 

The peloton is 2:00 behind.

 

Team Sky, Astana, Lotto-Soudal and EF Education First-Drapac are leading the pack.

 

The peloton is timed at 1:30 over the top of the climb. Froome, Poels and the other big-name contenders are in the reduced peloton.

 

The mid-stage mountain includes two peaks with the Puerto del Boya KOM coming after a short descent. It is followed by a long descent down to rolling roads that lead to the finish.

 

The break is regrouping on the easier roads and descent. 

Ramon Carretero (Movistar), Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Drapac) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) have joined Martin and Minaard up front. 

 

It will be interesting to see who else joins the move and if it can stay away.

 

 

Cyclingnews reporter Alasdair Fotheringham has just arrived at the finish in Alcalá de los Gazules.

 

He confirms that the finish is very tough, describing it as "narrow, twisting and with cobbles right to the top. Easily 12-15 percent in final segment."

 

 

 

He adds: "It's 700 metres of twisting narrow road in the last km. Too short, I think to make for massive differences, but positioning is going to be really important."

 

He warns: "If you get stuck behind someone, you're stuck..."

 

65km remaining from 194km

Both the break and the peloton have started the long descent from the climbs. It will be a fast 15 minutes down via twisting roads.

The stage  passes through the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park and finishes just north of Gibraltar. The race is the southern tip of Spain. 

 

AS we expected the break has split on the descent, with Vanmarcke and Amador going clear. They are the better descenders.

 

 

Today's stage started in the spectacular centre of Seville, with the tourists more interested in the architecture  and history that seeing Chris Froome. 

 

Indeed interest in the Briton and his case seems to have faded after all the hype and attention of the opening stages.

   

 

 

Pascal Eenkhorn (Lotto NL-Jumbo) and Jeroen Meijers (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) were the only two riders not to start today.

 

The stage started nervously with the break only going clear after 44km. An exposed section of road saw the peloton split into two parts, sparking some aggressive racing for a while.

 

13 riders eventually got away but then the move split when Martin and Minaard attacked on the slopes of the Puerto de las Palomas climb. 

 

We are now entering the finale of the race on the twisting, rolling roads on the way to Alcalá de los Gazules.

 

Amador and Vanmarcke now lead Carretero by 1:00 with the peloton at 2:30.

 

The two are trying to gai as much time as possible on the descent before a final pursuit match in the final 50km of the stage.

 

44km remaining from 194km

Vanmarcke wins the intermediate sprint but the peloton is chasing hard. The gap is down to 2:10 now.

 

This image was posted by Velon on Twitter and shows the cobbled climb up to the finish in Alcalá de los Gazules. It will be a real fight for position.

 

 

 

This is the view of the finish line at the end of the cobbled climb.

 

 

35km remaining from 194km

The gap to the peloton is down to 2:05 but the duo of Amador and Vanmarcke are on exposed roads now.

 

Behind both Astana and Team Sky are leading the chase and keeping the pace high.

 

The peloton is line out in pursuit. The race is on!

 

Amador and Vanmarcke take drinks before the 20km limit.

 

Their lead is down to 1:40. The peloton is hunting them down.

 

 

27km remaining from 194km

The sun is out now as the race heats up. 

 

This is going to be a hectic finale.

 

Amador and Vanmarcke are on an exposed climb. This will surely cost them valuable seconds as Astana and Team Sky do huge turns on the front and line out the peloton.

 

Amador is virtual race leader - he is only 48 seconds behind Poels in the GC. However he is giving it everything up front in the attack.

 

22km remaining from 194km

Astana has three riders doing the work, riding for Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang.

 

Amador flicks his elbow to call Vanmarcke do do a turn but it seems he's been told by his team not to share in the work anymore. 

 

18km remaining from 194km

Amador and Vanmarcke hit a late climb, with the Movistar rider trying to crack his rival.

 

The two stay together over the top as Vanmarcke takes over for the fast descent.

 

 

Behind Dylan van Baarle is leading the peloton for Team Sky. 

 

The road is descending gradually, giving the duo in the break a chance of success. 

 

There are only 40 or so riders in the peloton. 

 

12km remaining from 194km

The white and blue of Astana and Team Sky continue to lead the chase. But the gap is still 1:10.  

 

This will be close.

 

Vanmarcke takes in a late gel for a final burst of energy.  He is doing some big turns on the front despite being on the attack all day.

 

10km remaining from 194km

This is a real cat and mouse situation. The two up front are clearly strong but should crack and suffer on the cobbled climb up to the finish in Alcalá de los Gazules.

 

It is a real beast of a finish.

 

8km remaining from 194km

The gap is down to 45 seconds now. 

 

Mikel Landa will be Movistar's protected rider for the finish.

Can he match or even beat Poels and Froome?  

 

6km remaining from 194km

The climb to the finish will be a battle between the stage racers and the Ardennes and cobbles specialists. 

 

Watch out for riders such as Luis Leon Sanchez, Tim Wellens and others. 

 

5km remaining from 194km

The roads passes through olive tress but the peloton can see Amador and Vanmarcke now.

 

4km remaining from 194km

Flat for Froome! 

 

He's chasing in the team cars. This is a big moment for his race.

 

He's trying to use the race convoy to get back up but his chances of stage victory and his GC chances seem over.

 

2km remaining from 194km

Here comes the climb.

The peloton is close to catching Amador and Vanmarcke.

 

But the two refuse to give up hope and push on.

 

The climb to the finish will explode the race.

 

1km remaining from 194km

Here we go! 

 

Theo road kicks up and Amador and Vanmarcke are caught as the gradient touches 19%. 

 

1km remaining from 194km

Here comes the cobbles. This is nasty. 

 

Landa leads. But where is Poels?

 

They turn right and start on the cobbles. 

 

Wellens joins Landa.

 

Fuglsang and others are trying to cross the gap.

 

The road dips but will climb again on cobbled roads all the way to the finish.

 

Wellens and Landa are together.

 

Wellens comes to the front and looks for the smoother gutter. 

 

He opens a 10 metre gap. 

 

Wellens wins! 

 

Landa cones in to take second.

 

Poels made a fight back but lost about 15 seconds.

 

Riders are reaching the finish one by one. Everyone is hurting on the steep, cobbled climb.

 

Landa was a little generous early on the climb and paid for it when Wellens blasted past him with 300 metres to go. 

 

In the results Wellens gained five seconds on Landa. 

 

Fuglsang finished third at 12 seconds, with Poels fourth at 13 seconds.

 

Wellens is the new race leader, seven seconds ahead of Landa, with Poels at11 and Fuglsang at 14.

 

With Chris Froome suffering a late flat and losing time, the battle for overall victory looks to be between these four riders.  

 

 

The 14km TT is around the small ton of Barbate.

 

The finish was expected to be spectacular and it lives up to expectations.

 

Wellens is rewarded for his win with a model of the local church and shirt on the podium.

 

Wellens is also awarded the leader's red jersey. That was a superb win by the 26 year-old Belgian. 

 

He is not a great time trialist but has a chance of overall victory on Sunday. 

 

This is the top ten for the stage: 

 

1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 04:26:33
2 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar 00:00:05
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana 00:00:12
4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:13
5 Floris de Tier (Bel) LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:13
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar 00:00:17
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LootoNl-Jumbo 00:00:20
8 Luis leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana 00:00:20
9 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac 00:00:21
10 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert 00:00:24

 

The finish was all about positioning and then power and threshold on the cobbled climb to the line.

 

This is the General Classification after stage 4:



1 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 17:24:25
2 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar 00:00:07
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana 00:00:11
4 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:14
5 Luis leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana 00:00:20
6 Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar 00:00:32
7 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LootoNl-Jumbo 00:00:58
8 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac 00:01:05
9 Mikel Bizkarra (Spa) Euskadi 00:01:14
10 Sergio Pardilla (Spa) Caja Rural - RGA 00:01:24.

 

There are no time bonuses at the Ruta del Sol and so the gaps at the finish made the difference today and shook up the overall classification.

 

It's a busy weekend of racing. With the Ruta del Sol done, why not join us for live coverage of the Volta ao Algarve. 

 

Click here to join the action. 

We're hearing that Chris Froome lost 1:20 due to his late flat. He was forced to chase in the cars and despite catching the tail of the race he was unable to move up.       

This is the first photo of Tim Wellens as he celebrates his victory. 

 

 

 

Stage winner and new race leader Tim Wellens spoke briefly after his successful day.

 

"I'm very, very happy to win the stage but I think tomorrow the losses will decide the GC. Of course I'll do my best and I hope to take GC," Wellens said.

 

"The climb was very steep and very narrow, the cobbles didn't make it easier. We went full gas on the earlier climb too, it was a really hard day."

 

Thanks for following our live coverage today from the Ruta del Sol.

 

We'll be back for live coverage of the final decisive 14km time trial on Sunday to see if Wellens can hold onto the leader's red jersey.

 

Join us for all the action. 

 

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