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Vuelta a España 2015: Stage 4

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Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage four of the Vuelta a Espana. 

Check out our full coverage of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana by clicking below. 

Today's sees the rider in action for 209.6km between Estepona and Vejer de la Frontera in the southern tip of Spain. 

As we join the action, there are 170km left to race.

The riders have covered the first hour at a steady 40km/h, with the break of the day established and leading by 12 minutes.

Mickael Delage (FDJ), Bert Jan Lindeman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Nikolas Maes (Etixx-Quick Step), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Kristijan Durasek (Lampre-Merida) and Markel Irizar (Trek Factory Racing) are the six riders in the break.

The six went on the attack when the flag dropped at the start of the stage and the peloton let them go away.  

Their lead was 5:30 after just 15km and then 13:30 after 30km. 

Orica-GreenEdge eventually took up the chase and so the gap has begun to fall.  

Today's stage is expected to finish in a sprint finish but the short, steep climb at 4km to go is going to hurt and perhaps cause problems for the pure sprinters.

The official race guide shows the climb kicking in with four kilometres to go. It last for a kilometre before easing as the road twists through the streets.     

There are several corners in the final kilometre before a slight dip and then rise to the finish line. 

It seems a perfect finish for Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) and so could see the Slovakian rider take his second consecutive stage victory. 

Several bikes are fitted with on-board video cameras during each stage of the Vuelta and they captured Nacer Bouhanni's crash and Peter Sagan's sprint win on Monday.

151km remaining from 209km

The teams seem to be trying to avoid doing the work in pursuit of the breakaway. On Monday Sagan lamented that Tinkoff-Saxo did much of the work with Orica-GreenEdge, with Giant-Alpecin and Cofidis only hitting the front in the final kilometres.  

134km remaining from 209km

The big debate following the opening weekend was if Vincenzo Nibali deserved to be disqualified from the Vuelta for taking a tow from his team car. 

The average race speed has eased to 38.3km in the second hour of racing.  

After being in the eye of the storm following Nibali's exclusion, the Astana team is trying to keep a low profile in the race, as Barry Ryan reports from Malaga. 

The Vuelta is also a key meeting place for rider agents and team managers. The latest rumour and news we've discovered concerns Rein Taaramäe, who is almost certain to move from Astana to Katusha for 2016. 

Nacer Bouhanni has stopped due to a mechanical problem but will not have any problems getting back to the peloton. 

After 100km the gap is down to 7:50. The Tinkoff-Saxo team is also helping the chase now, riding in the hope Sagan can win the sprint finish.    

The riders are happy to reach the mid-stage feed zone and take on some food and drinks. It's a hot day out in the saddle with temperatures of 29C.

The gap between break and peloton was 7:00 but this will probably increase as the peloton eases to enjoy their lunch.

100km remaining from 209km

The six attackers are still working together but their lead is melting in the afternoon sun. It is down to 6:30 now. 

The IAM Cycling team video reveals jus how difficult the finish is today. The road twists and turns through the narrow streets as it climbs, with some tight corners.

The riders are getting closer to Cadiz on the Atlantic coast of southern Spain. They will then turn south and face an exposed section of road before heading inland. 

77km remaining from 209km

66km remaining from 209km

Dan Martin spoke to Eurosport before the start but played down his chances of winning the stage.

The six riders are working smoothly together, following the wheels and doing equal turns on the front. 

The teams are moving up to the front on the approach to Cadiz and the high bridge over the bay which is exposed to the wind.  

Tinkoff-Saxo has several riders on the front of the peloton, setting a solid and consistent pace. 

Crash! Leonardo Duque (Colombia) touches wheels and goes down. He needs a bike change from his team car. 

57km remaining from 209km

However the peloton is taking it steady as a headwind slows their progress.

The El Puente de la Pepa bridge is still to be completed and has yet to be opened to road traffic. 

The gap is 3:10 to the peloton after the bridge, with huge crowds cheering the riders. 

Team sky is on the front, upping the speed. 

As a result the peloton is stretched out, with the wind coming from the right.  

43km remaining from 209km

The flat roads are passing through the salt fields south of Cadiz.

Movistar is on the front and seems to be hoping for a strong side wind.  

However the wind is more of a tail wind than a cross wind. 

The Tinkoff-Saxo team has taken over from Movistar and trying to make the rest of the peloton suffer by riding on the left side of the road, forcing the others into the wind.  

The road will soon reach a very narrow section which is only a car wide.  

Crash!

Several rider in the peloton go down. 

It looks like Tejay van Garderen was caught up in the crash.

Riders in the final part of the peloton were unable to get through a sweeping curve. 

Fortunately nobody seems to be have been hurt in the crash and BMC is chasing to get back on.  

The gap to the break is down to 45 seconds now. 

We're set for a high-speed final 30km of racing when the break is caught.   

It seems Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin) was caught up in the sprint, with a road-side fan, trying to ride his bike. King rightly pushed him aside and got going again.  

There are four BMC riders off the back chasing after the crash.

Van Garderen seems to have landed on his left knee. He and his teammates are 40 seconds back, as Tinkoff-Saxo keep up a high pace on the front.   

up front the break has broken up, with Engoulvent and Irizar going clear. The others seem to have eased up.  

Van Garderen and his teammates are now in the long line of team cars and working their way back to the peloton. 

Andrew Talansky has a mechanical and has to chase back on. 

20km remaining from 209km

15km remaining from 209km

Now its about control and waiting until the five 5km and the climb up to the finish.

It's going to be a hectic fight for position before the climb.  

The sprinters' teams will be fighting for position and the overall contenders will also want to stay out of trouble at the front. 

13km remaining from 209km

The race is all together with 11km to go. Tinkoff-Saxo is on the front of the peloton, controlling the pace and any attacks.    

10km remaining from 209km

Lampre and Team Sky are at the front too. 

8km remaining from 209km

There is a sprint to the foot of the climb. 

Movistar is also fighting for position.

The speed at is up to 60km/h. 

A strong tailwind is blowing the riders along. 

Ag2r are riding to set up and protect Pozzovivo. 

Geraint Thomas is working to protect Froome. 

The corner is tight and forces the riders to slow and accelerate again.

The peloton splits after some early attacks. 

3km remaining from 209km

Sagan -in the green jersey, is on the front of the group, riding steady for now. 

Sagan slams the door shut on a Caja Rural rider.

The clim is steep and painful for everyone. This is not for the sprinters.

Katusha is leading the chase for Purito. 

They are sweeping up the Caja Rural rider. 

Valverde is also up front, with Aru and Sagan. 

The gradient has eased in the street. 

Pello Bilbao (Caja Rural) is hanging off the front as the big-names wait for the surge to the line. 

Here they come.

Sagan is still there. 

Majka alongside Sagan. 

Attack! Sammy Sanchez (BMC) goes early.  

1km remaining from 209km

Nico Roche gets across to Sanchez but the peloton is coming back. 

The road kicks up again after a brief descent. 

Here we go. Last 500m. 

Majka leads the chase. 

Roche kicks ahead but is about to be caught. 

He is caught with Sagan and Valverde clashing before the line. 

Valverde gets it ahead of Sagan. 

Sagan seemed surprised the finish came so quickly. The curves and catching Roche meant he was unable to past Valverde. 

Dani Moreno (Katusha) finished fourth, with Roche hanging on for fifth place.  

Sagan perhaps made the mistake of letting Valverde open a slight gap in the final 200 metres. He should have been glued to Valverde's wheel. 

Instead he had to fight to get back up to him and even use his shoulder to get past a Katusha rider.  

Thanks to winning the stage, Valverde took a ten-second time bonus. However Chaves was not too far back and so should keep the leader's red jersey. 

What another great finish at the Vuelta.

Provisional results show that Chaves finished three seconds down on Valverde after a gap in the peloton.

Roche is third at 12 seconds, with Valverde moving up to fourth at 25 seconds.

Valverde admitted immediately after winning that he only studied the finish this morning, using google earth to check out the roads, gradients and turns.

Valverde looks mean as he speaks post stage. He seems the Movistar leader at least for now. 

A smiling Esteban Chaves has pulled on another red leader's jersey. It's been a great start to the Vuelta for the Colombian rider and his Orica-GreenEdge team. 

Stay with us on our live coverage as we bring you all the reaction and news from the finish line. 

Valverde spoke after collecting a cake on the stage winner's podium. 

As always we will have a full race report, massive photo galleries, news and exclusive interviews from today's stage at the Vuelta.

The Movistar team celebrated Valverde's win at the finish, with sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil, revealing theteam's tactics.

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) admitted he made the mistake of letting Valverde open a slight gap in the final sprint to the finish but accepted defeat, while pointing out that Movistar did not want to do any work during the stage.

Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge) was happy to have kept the leader's jersey for another day after the hectic finish. 

It seems to have been a bad day for US riders at the Vuelta. Andrew Talansky suffered a late mechanical and finished the stage 4:40 down on Valverde.  

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was caught out in a late crash but managed to fight his way back up to the leaders to limit his losses.

Thanks for joining us for another dramatic and entertaining stage at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana. 

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