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Vuelta a Espana 2016: Stage 4

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Welcome to live coverage of stage 4 of the Vuelta a Espana from Betanzos to San Andrés de Teixido.

 

Good afternoon, it's racing time again and the teams and riders have descended on the medieval city of Betanzos as the race continues its way along the north western coast of Spain. 

We're only a few days into the 2016 Vuelta a Espana but yesterday saw a big shake-up of the overall classification with Alberto Contador and Steven Kruijswijk losing time while Ruben Fernandez moved into the overall lead. This is how the top 10 looks ahead of the start.

While we saw the big GC names go up against each other yesterday it was Alexandre Geniez that stole the show with his breakaway victory. Geniez was part of the early break and just held on for his second career stage win at the Vuelta a Espana. Want to re-live yesterday's stage? Watch it here

Yesterday saw our first abandon of the race with Warren Barguil dropping out due to sinusitis. It looked like Miguel Angel Lopez might be about to follow him when he suffered a spectacular crash in the final kilometres. Despite breaking three of his teeth, the Colombian will start today. Read the full story here

A battered and bruised Lopez talks to the press ahead of today's stage. 

There are 11 points available in the mountains classification today. Current classification leader Geniez is on 10 points, so we can expect to see him try and wrap up some points early on to secure that jersey for another day. This is how things stand right now. 

Before the riders set of, this is what they're going to face today, two third cat climbs and a second cat summit finish. 

And the riders are on their way. They've got a 7.7km neutral section before the racing proper gets going. 

Ruben Fernandez with teammate Alejandro Valverde at the start of today's stage. 

Carthy has had a rocky start to his debut Vuelta a Espana, losing 14 minutes yesterday, but the longer climb to the finish should be much better for his skill set. Riders such as Contador will be hoping to fair better on this finish as well. 

We have racing proper now with 197 riders signing on today. Warren Barguil is still the only rider to leave the race thus far. 

The attacks are already flying and there's a rider from BMC trying to g up the road. He'll want some company if he wants to make it stick. 

The attack wasn't successful and it's all back together. The pace is extremely high as lots of teams look to get into a move, perhaps spurred on by the success of Geniez yesterday. 

Almost 10km ridden and still no successful breakaway. 

Eurosport journalist Laura Meseguer reporting that Alberto Contador was caught out by dehydration yesterday. He said that this morning that he 'cannot let it happen again.'

In other news, Etixx-QuickStep has announced that they have signed Eros Capecchi who currently rides for Astana. He's also a former Movistar rider. 

148km remaining from 163km

Never mind, the peloton was clearly not happy with that collection of riders and they've brought them back almost immediately. 

Making the break in the opening week of a Grand Tour is always a game of luck.There are always jersey's on the line and plenty of teams interested in trying to get them for at least a day. riders are also feeling a little more sprightly and therefore more willing to work a bit harder at the start to control things. As the race progresses, we'll see the breakaways going much quicker on many of the stages. 

As the riders begin the first climb of the day the Alto Da Serra Capela, we have 18 riders trying their luck off the front. They've got a growing gap now, could this be the one?

The answer to that appears to be no as the peloton keeps the 18-man group at close quarters. Movistar is not happy to let just any old move get up the road. 

139km remaining from 163km

Good news for the riders today is that it is a little cooler than it has been in the past couple of days. The temperature is in the mid-20s for the moment.

We now have a group of 12 riders attempting to snap the elastic. Will Movistar be happy with this one?

A group of five has bridged over to that group out front, one of them is Dani Moreno. Movistar might be happy with this but Astana aren't and it's now the team in light blue that is setting the pace at the front of the bunch. 

The effort of Astana has brought it all back together and we're back to square one. The group is about to crest the Alto da Serra Capela after almost an hour of racing.

Here is one of the large groups that tried to break free in the opening kilometres of this stage. 

129km remaining from 163km

Movistar DS Jose Luis Arrieta spoke to the race website. He said that the team has to balance defending the jersey and thinking about the long game. 

Finally it looks like we've got our move of the day with 19 men jumping off the front. No Fernandez in it this time. These are the riders in the breakaway: Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Andrey Zeits. (Astana), Nikias Arndt (Giant Alpecin), Thomas Se Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), Ben King (Cannondale-Drapac), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Nathan Haas (Dimension Data), Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data), Larry Warbasse (IAM Cycling), Marcel Wyss (IAM Cycling), Tsgabu Grmay. (Lampre Merida), Stéphane Rossetto. (Cofidis), Cesare Benedetti (Bora Argon 18), Scott Thwaites (Bora Argon 18), Angel Madrazo (Caja Rural), Jaime Roson (Caja Rural), 213 Lilian Celmejane. (Direct Energie).

We can now add Chad Haga (Giant-Alpecin), Axel D0mont (AG2R La Mondiale) and Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL-Jumbo) to that group out front, making it 21 riders. 

111km remaining from 163km

The break hits the lower slopes of the Alto Monte Caxado (7.3 km of climbing at an average gradient of 4.5%) and the buffer over the peloton has edged out beyond the two-minute mark.

Federico Zurlo (Lampre-Merida), meanwhile, has abandoned the Vuelta a Espana. The 22-year-old Italian was riding the first Grand Tour of his career.

104km remaining from 163km

101km remaining from 163km

De Gendt led over the summit of Monte Caxado, incidentally, and he picks up another three points towards the king of the mountains classification. Alex Domont was second to the top, ahead of Angel Madrazo.

97km remaining from 163km

91km remaining from 163km

The escapees have reached the base of the descent of Monte Caxado and are now on a short, uncategorised climb. Cannondale duo Ben King and Pierre Rolland set a steady tempo on the front.

83km remaining from 163km

79km remaining from 163km

The lead group is now just 20 riders with Arndt now back in the peloton. As a sprinter, it was always going to be tough for Arndt to stay up there.

As the riders head towards the feed zone, the pace knocks off a little bit and the gap is growing out past four minutes. Movistar with most of their team up front and Sky sitting right behind them. 

70km remaining from 163km

Cannondale-Drapac has two riders in the break today. They've posted this photo of the inside of their musettes. Ice in tights very common at the Vuelta. 

The riders are almost at the 100km mark in today's stage with 67km still to run. They've got that one final classified up to the finish to contend with. The 4km ascent isn't too steep but it is very narrow and exposed meaning that we could have a bit of wind at the finish. 

The advantage over the peloton is now almost up to five minutes. It's normal for this to happen around the feed zone as riders inspect the contents of their musettes and try and take on as much sustenance as they can. The gap is likely to stay how it is for another 10km or so before the peloton begin picking up the pace again. 

Esteban Chaves is having a good race so far and sits up in forth place overall. His DS Neil Stephens is happy with the Colombian's performance until now.

56km remaining from 163km

Ruben Fernandez is at the back of the Movistar train at the head of the peloton. He tried to get away in the break earlier today, perhaps forgetting that he was in fact in the red jersey. Sitting in front of Fernandez is Nairo Quintana with Alejandro Valverde in front of him. All three riders are in the top 10 as the moment, as is Daniel Moreno. If they play this right, they should still have the red jersey at the end of the day. 

We mentioned earlier that Eros Capecchi had signed for Etixx-QuickStep. He has come on board to help bolster their Grand Tour line-up. You can read the full story here

50km remaining from 163km

If the gap were to stay as it is right now, Darwin Atapuma would be the new race leader. Atapuma is only 1:35 down in the overall classification, although BMC is looking to Samuel Sanchez for their GC ambitions. 

The leaders are onto a short descent, which is narrow and twisting and could cause some problems when the peloton go through. Let's hope not though. 

There are four Grand Tour stage winners in today's breakaway. They are Enrico Battaglin - who has won two stages of the Giro d'Italia, Thomas de Gendt - who has one stage at the Giro and the Tour de France, Pierre Rolland - who has won two stages of the Tour, and Zdenek Stybar - who won a stage of the Vuelta in 2013 and a stage at last year's Tour. 

Darwin Atapuma came close to winning his first Grand Tour stage at the Giro d'Italia earlier this year. He finished fourth, third and second in stages of the Giro. He was caught late on the penultimate stage and burst into tears upon crossing the line. 

As we said before, it is Sanchez that BMC is pinning their hopes on. Team DS, Valerio Piva had this to say on the Spaniard ahead of the stage. 

Information on the final climb from our reporter on the ground Alasdair Fotheringham.

35km remaining from 163km

As the pace f the break goes up, the peloton looks like it's slowed a little. Orica, AG2R, Dimension Data have all moved up to help them but there doesn't seem to be any impetus to chase the leaders down. The gap came down to around 4:20 but it's growing out again. 

Attacks coming from the lead group and the breakaway briefly splits. The pace is really chugging along in the break as they close in on this final climb. 

27km remaining from 163km

The peloton is still taking it relatively easy and they really do look like they're giving the glory of the stage win to the breakaway. If the do allow this to keep creeping out, Atapuma could well find himself in red at the end of the day, the leader's red that is. 

Thomas de Gendt looks particularly keen to put himself forward for this stage victory though so he can complete his collection of Grand Tour stage wins. He's made another couple of attacks and has forced some fractures within the group. 

There's a small descent and Stybar is really going for it. He knows that he doesn't have the climbing ability of many in this group. He's got Ben King for company but they haven't got much of a gap yet. 

21km remaining from 163km

De Gendt is once again the rider that will try and drag back the move. He's pulling back Domont pretty much on his own. 

Domont back in the group and there is a brief ceasefire. But probably not for long. 

And Madrazo has a punt. The Spaniard has one stage win from Etoile de Besseges earlier this season. He's got a decent gap at the moment. 

No surprise in who is trying to track Madrazo down. It is the indomitable De Gendt, who is hell bent on claiming the stage win today. Will he burn his matches too early?

Grmay attacks from the break too. 

15km remaining from 163km

Orica-BikeExchange is now setting the pace at the front of the bunch with Tinkoff as Domont attacks from the breakaway. The gap between the leaders and the peloton is still up at 5:15.

The leaders passed through the intermediate sprint a few moments ago with Stybar taking the full points, King going through in second and De Gendt in third. 

11km remaining from 163km

Domont has 23 seconds on the group chasing behind him. Still 10km to go for him. 

A mix of teams chasing in the peloton now. Tinkoff still has one man at the head of proceedings with Sky, Orica-BikeExchange and Movistar doing some work. 

Nairo Quintana is keeping himself right near the front of the bunch. He doesn't want to get caught out. 

9km remaining from 163km

Domont has been reeled back by a diminished looking breakaway group. We've certainly lost a few riders. 

8km remaining from 163km

Tejay van Garderen has been shelled from the peloton, he was dropped yesterday too. 

Rolland is trying to chase down Calmejane. It's been an unlucky year for Rolland and a stage win would be a big boost for him.

Rojas has done his job for the day and immediately drops off the back of the peloton. 

6km remaining from 163km

Calmejane still pushing on alone. He's got 15 seconds over Rolland at the moment and 30 seconds over the main breakaway group. 

4km remaining from 163km

The Direct Energie rider tries to do up his jersey on the descent but he quickly gives up on what is a futile exercise. He can't waste any time here. 

At this point, Calmejane is still extending his lead over Rolland. He has 21 seconds over his compatriot and 41 seconds on the chasers. 

Meanwhile, Nacer Bourhanni has but the disappointment of the weekend behind him to win at Poitou Charentes. Read the report here

2km remaining from 163km

Back in the peloton, Kennaugh has gone off the front. Interesting tactic by Sky, perhaps they are trying to draw out some of their rivals. 

Word coming in that De Gendt has been given the most aggressive rider award. He's been dropped from the breakaway group at the moment. 

1km remaining from 163km

Atapuma has Rolland and Zeits for company now as they chase down Calmejane.

Fernandez has waved goodbye to the red jersey as he is dropped from a very small peloton. Moreno takes up the pace with Valverde in his wheel. Valverde is the only rider that can snap the red jersey from Atapuma. 

Calmejane out of the saddle and sprinting for the line

Calmejane finally manages to zip up his jersey and he punches the air as he crosses the line for victory. 

Atapuma sprints past Rolland on the line to take second. He gets some bonus seconds but now he has to wait and see what the gap to the peloton is. 

De La Cruz leads the favourites up the final climb with Brambilla, Contador, Chaves and Chaves all behind him. Froome is there too. 

The clock ticks up and Atapuma should be in red now. 

It looked like there might be an attack from the group of favourites but in the end they come over the line together led by Valverde. 

Calmejane's win is the first for Direct Energie since Pierre Rolland and Thomas Voeckler netted three stages of the 2012 Tour de France. It is also Calmejane's first professional victory. 

Confirmation of the top 10 in the stage

Stage winner Calmajane had this to say after the stage. 

This is how the GC looks after that little shake up. 

Thumbs up from Atapuma as he heads to the podium to collect his red jersey. 

Today's victory is the culmination of a very strong debut season as a professional for Lilian Calmejane. The 23-year-old finished second in the youth classification at the Tour de Wallonie, won the youth classification at La Méditerranéenne and came close to a stage win at La Provence. We can certainly expect more from him in the future. 

Looking to tomorrow's stage, it's lumpy but much flatter compared to today's offering and could be a chance for the likes of Philippe Gilbert or perhaps Simon Gerrans. This is what the profile looks like. 

That is it from us today, remember to check out our report here with full results and photos. We'll have race highlights too.

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