Following Bastien Tronchon's triumph on Thursday, stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos brought another young winner in the form of Bahrain Victorious neo-pro Matevž Govekar, who swept to victory on the uphill finish at Ciudad Romana de Clunia.
The 22-year-old beat out another AG2R Citroën youngster, Valentin Retailleau, in the final metres of the stage, the breakaway triumphing after splitting 40km from the line. Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech) took third place having launched the finishing sprint from the seven-man group.
Dashing into a headwind, it was Goldstein who jumped first inside the final 200 metres. He couldn't make it last to the line, however, with Retailleau sprinting past into the final 100, before Govekar came alongside and pushed past in the dying metres of the stage.
Three minutes later, the peloton sprinted home with no gaps between any of the GC contenders in the group. The result means that Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) continues with a 23-second GC lead to the final stage showdown atop Lagunas de Neila on Saturday.
How it unfolded
The penultimate stage of the Vuelta a Burgos took the peloton 169km from Torresandino to an uphill finish in Ciudad Romana de Clunia, a finish last used in the 2019 race as Alex Aranburu took the victory.
Despite the complete lack of categorised climbs on the way, the roads were nonetheless rolling, though there would be little to battle over for any prospective breakaway, save for the finish – should they survive that far.
A large break of 14 men duly got away within the first 10km of the stage, and a strong one at that with the likes of Dario Cataldo (Trek-Segafredo), David de la Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan), and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) among those in the move alongside Lennard Hofstede (Jumbo-Visma), Brandon Rivera (Ineos Grenadiers), Fernando Barceló (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), David Martin (Eolo-Kometa), and more.
Ineos Grenadiers controlled the break's advantage at around three minutes for much of the day, helped out by Burgos-BH and Kern Pharma, the Spanish squads having missed the move.
For 120km after the break was formed, there was very little to report as the situation remained stable – the break sticking together with nothing to fight over and the peloton rolling along three minutes back.
But at 40km from the line, the attacking started up front with Omer Goldstein (Israel-Premier Tech) and Xabier Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi) leading the charge. The group split up as a result, with Pieter Serry (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), joining them alongside Lluís Mas (Movistar), Matevž Govekar (Bahrain Victorious), Patrick Gamper (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Valentin Retailleau (AG2R Citroën).
The seven men built their gap over the starrier chase group in the following kilometres, while the peloton knocked off the pace to let the gap grow out from 2:30 to over four minutes.
In the chase group, despite the seemingly superior strength – Gaviria, Hofstede, De la Cruz, and Cataldo were all in there – the riders could do little to bring the attack back. Their disadvantage grew and grew as the kilometres ticked by, with the gap up to a minute as the leaders raced into the final 10km.
Those breakaway attackers stayed together well into the final, before Gamper tried the first move just inside the final 4km of the stage. His breakmates quickly chased on, though, with Azparren the slowest to make it back up.
The seven hit the final climb still all together, heading onto the steeper ramps inside the final kilometre with no further attacks. It was Azparren who broke the truce, jumping at 750 metres to go, but soon enough the group was back together again.
Spread across the road, the seven men raced into the closing metres of the climb all together, with Mas taking the right-hand side of the road and Goldstein the left. The Israeli launched the final dash for the finish before Govekar came past him and Retailleau to claim the win.
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