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.
Stage three report
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.
@LottoJumbo_road Tue, 25th Aug 2015 11:48:13
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.
@katushacycling Tue, 25th Aug 2015 12:08:44
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.
Click here to see the video.
151km remaining from 209km
The peloton is slowly closing the gap on the break but seems happy to let the six hang out front in the heat of the day. The gap is now 10:40.
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
With 75km covered, the gap has dropped below 10 minutes and is now at 9:10. The chase is on.
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.
Why not listen to the weekly Cyclingnews podcast to hear what we had to say on the Italian's exclusion.
Click here to hear and subscribe to the Cyclingnews podcast.
The average race speed has eased to 38.3km in the second hour of racing.
@Etixx_QuickStep Tue, 25th Aug 2015 12:39:45
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.
Fabio Aru is now the sole leader of the Astana team.
Click here for the full story.
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.
Read the full story here by clicking here.
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.
Fortunately there is little wind blowing from the coast.
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 riders face 100km of racing before the uphill finish in Vejer de la Frontera.
@TeamMTNQhubeka Tue, 25th Aug 2015 13:20:23
The six attackers are still working together but their lead is melting in the afternoon sun. It is down to 6:30 now.
@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 25th Aug 2015 13:27:54
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.
@katushacycling Tue, 25th Aug 2015 13:49:30
77km remaining from 209km
The Tinkoff-Saxo team is back on the front riding to close the gap on the break. However the gap remains at 6:30.
66km remaining from 209km
We are just 10km from Cadiz now and the turn in direction along the coast.
Dan Martin spoke to Eurosport before the start but played down his chances of winning the stage.
“Everyone says it’s a good finish for me but looking at map I’m not so sure,” he said. “I think its good for Sagan and he’s a little faster then me…. It’s a long hot stage so well try to do something.”
“I just rested since the Tour de France but it was good for me and the team to get a good result early in the race (on stage two). Hopefully it continues.”
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
The gap has fallen as the bridge hurt the legs of the six breakaways.
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.
@Lotto_Soudal Tue, 25th Aug 2015 14:20:52
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 peloton is closing down on the break of the day.
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.
@TrekFactory Tue, 25th Aug 2015 14:41:52
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.
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.
@LottoJumbo_road Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:02:40
Andrew Talansky has a mechanical and has to chase back on.
20km remaining from 209km
Engoulvent and Irizar stay out front but they are only 30 seconds clear.
15km remaining from 209km
Five Tinkoff-Saxo riders are doing turns on the front of the peloton.
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
FDJ are also on the front, as the gaps falls to 10 seconds.
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
Five kilometres to the foot of the climb. This is going to a crazy finish.
Lampre and Team Sky are at the front too.
8km remaining from 209km
The race turns off the main highway with 4.3km to go. That will be a vital pinch point.
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
It is still early to give it 100%.
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.
@Movistar_Team Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:38:27
What another great finish at the Vuelta.
It's been a crazy race so far, with lot to talk about, including Vincenzo Nibali's expulsion from the race.
Why not listen to our special podcast and join the debate.
Click here to listen to the podcast.
Provisional results show that Chaves finished three seconds down on Valverde after a gap in the peloton.
However he remains race leader, five seconds head of Tom Domoulin (Giant-Alpecin).
Roche is third at 12 seconds, with Valverde moving up to fourth at 25 seconds.
@Andymcgra Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:46:52
@robhatchtv Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:46:30
Valverde admitted immediately after winning that he only studied the finish this morning, using google earth to check out the roads, gradients and turns.
@Movistar_Team Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:50:57
Valverde looks mean as he speaks post stage. He seems the Movistar leader at least for now.
@TeamMTNQhubeka Tue, 25th Aug 2015 15:55:49
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.
"Our team set the tempo today like we did on the first road stage. Today we stayed calm and we knew it’s a long race and we need to keep some strength in the bank," he explained.
"We sat with Katusha who were good but so were we. We sat on and didn’t need to accelerate too hard and then in the last 200m I just flew."
"I knew it was Sagan on my wheel because I kept seeing his hair. I knew he was strong on these finishes but know with 200m to go I know it would be my victory today."
As always we will have a full race report, massive photo galleries, news and exclusive interviews from today's stage at the Vuelta.
Check out the early photos from the stage and see the provisional results by clicking here.
@AstanaTeam Tue, 25th Aug 2015 16:02:44
The Movistar team celebrated Valverde's win at the finish, with sprinter Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil, revealing theteam's tactics.
“Alejandro said this morning he wanted to win the stage," he revealed when speaking to Eurosport. "
"I’ve raced with him for a while and I know when he wants to win. I know he wanted to win and so had huge motivation. I let him go ahead of me on the finishing climb and it was okay."
"It was all about being near the front and waiting for the finish. It was very tough and we tried to recover so we could have a nice finish before the final climb and in the end it was okay and Alejandro took the victory."
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.
“It was very hot. I spent a lot of time at the front of the group with my team today. I asked Movistar if they would help with the pace setting but they weren’t interested in helping us," he said.
"I was thinking about the last climb which was up and down and a very hard climb. I have to be happy with second place because a climb like this was very hard.”
"To be honest I did too much at the start of the climb. Then I started to recover and was on Alejandro’s wheel but in the last few meters he just pulled away. There’s not much more I could have done. I just didn’t have the legs today.”
Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica GreenEdge) was happy to have kept the leader's jersey for another day after the hectic finish.
“The guys on the team have a lot of experience and were with me all day. In the last 60km it was fast and I was scared with the wind and it was crazy but the team put me in at the front," he explained.
"I started on the final climb near the front and the team were great with me. It was really explosive on the final climb. I saw at the last corner that Roche had attacked and I was in bad position and so I was a worried but I could see him in the finale with Valverde and Sagan and that they had caught him. It was close for sure but I've kept the jersey."
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.
@nicholasroche Tue, 25th Aug 2015 16:22:25
Thanks for joining us for another dramatic and entertaining stage at the 2015 Vuelta a Espana.
Check out our full stage report, photo gallery, news and interviews by clicking here.
Join us tomorrow for bow by blow coverage of the 167km fifth stage from Rota to Ronda.
@ORICA_GreenEDGE Tue, 25th Aug 2015 16:32:15
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