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Vuelta a Espana 2017: Stage 4

 

 

 A net descent all the way to Anella Mediterránea, near Tarragona. The only real obstacle is the Alto de Belltall, a gentle road in Catalonia. The destination is going to host the 2018 Mediterranean Games, including championship level pétanque. This is one of only four undeniable bunch gallop stages.

 

Contador: 'I could tell it was going to be a bad one' | https://t.co/1oidQljo4m https://t.co/qyUiPFRN16

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 10:30:11

We're around 20 minutes until the start of the stage, with Froome in red already through the sign-on.

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 8:53:44
2 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:02
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:10
6 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:38
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:39
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:43
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:48

 

After yesterday's opening stage in the mountains its Froome that leads from De La Cruz, Roche and van Garderen. Today, as we said, should be all about the sprinters though. 

 

Fernando Escartin, a former Kelme rider, has this to say about today's route. Over to you, Fernando:



"Flat. This will be the second sprint to the finish-line, another of the few opportunities for sprinters in the 2017 Vuelta. We may have a few breakaways at the beginning, but the sprinter teams will be able to control them and head down to Tarragona in order to win the stage."

 

Okay so we don't have a Kittel or a Gaviria, or Cavendish here but we've still got some high calibre sprinters with Degenkolb, Theuns, Modolo, Lobato, and eh a few others. My how we long for the days of Wust and Svorada tearing it up at the Vuelta. 

 

Recon Ride: Vuelta a Espana Preview - Podcast #LV2017 | https://t.co/dm9QeM4giu https://t.co/q44AAng6zA

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 10:53:40

It's a sunny 27C here at the start. There's a slight head/cross-wind which should help the peloton if there is a break away early in the stage.

 

Adam Blythe! I totally forgot him when listing off the sprinters. He's here too. I'm sure more will come to mind as we head out from the start. 197km to go. 

 

And with just 5km covered we've already got a break up the road with Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Diego Rubio and Nicholas Schulz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana Postobon) going clear by 40 seconds. We've got one rider in between the break and the bunch and he's trying to make contact with the leaders. 

 

Le Bon is the rider trying to make contact with the leaders. They're not making it easy for the FDJ rider, who sits 30 seconds down on the four up the road. The bunch are now at 1'25 so the race has settled into a pattern for the next couple of hours at least. 

 

186km remaining from 198km

So the four leaders have 30 seconds on Le Bon, and 1'25 on the main field. Scratch that. They have 1'45 on the bunch and Le Bon is losing further ground. It looks like the Frenchman is fighting a losing battle. 15 wonderful kilometres covered. 

 

Back in the pack we have one Alberto Contador. He lost significant time yesterday and his chances of a high overall place in the race are firmly over. Here's what he had to say yesterday. This is of course his final race of the season, and his career. 

 

Nibali won the stage and promptly celebrated by pretending to be a shark. As a result, and because it's a fairly quiet day, we've put together this gallery of other unique race celebrations. Tell us what your favourite is in the comments below.

 

In real news Alejandro Valverde's miraculous recovery continues and he might be racing again this season. Here's the latest on the Movistar rider's rehab

 

175km remaining from 198km

Le Bon has made it. The leaders have waited so we now have a group of five up the road with a lead of 3'45 over the bunch. 32km covered so far. 

 

Our break consists of:
 

Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Diego Rubio and Nicholas Schulz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana Postobon) and Johan Le Bon (FDJ)

 

And the gap goes out to 4'15 after 32km of racing. 

 

It's Chris Froome's Team Sky who set the pace at the moment. They'll look to keep the break in check at around 6-7 minutes and then they'll expect the sprinters' teams to chip in. 

 

Froome sits at the back of the Team Sky train and takes on a drink. It's been a quiet day so far for the race leader. Here's a reminder of how things stand coming into the stage.

 

1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 8:53:44
2 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:02
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:10
6 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 0:00:11
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:38
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:39
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:43
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:48

 

Whisper it quietly but Tejay van Garderen came through the first mountain test at the Vuelta in fine form. Way, way to early to talk about GC ride for the American but the signs are positive. Here's what he had to say.

 

First hour of racing and the break have 5'15 on the bunch. The leaders, once more are, Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis), Diego Rubio and Nicholas Schultz (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Juan Felipe Osorio (Manzana Postobon). They're working well together with Team Sky setting the pace on the front of the bunch.

 

143km remaining from 198km

Under 150km to and the gap has moved out again to 5'40. Still a long way to go but we've ditched the headwind, and w've a slight crosswind at the moment. 

 

140km remaining from 198km

The break's lead nudges north of 6 minutes. Sky will be content to allow the move to continue to meander clear, and the sprinters' teams will eventually have to take up the reins in the peloton.

Michael Morkov is riding the Vuelta for Katusha-Alpecin, but next season the Dane will be riding in the colours of Quick-Step Floors. Patrick Lefevere's squad made the announcement this morning that Morkov has agreed a two-year deal. 

 

135km remaining from 198km

As the break's advantage begins to yawn towards 7 minutes, Quick-Step Floors join Team Sky on the head of the peloton and begin to contribute to the pace-making.

 

131km remaining from 198km

Quick-Step may be on the front but there is still no great urgency to the chase. The gap stretches out to 7:15.

 

Alberto Contador's hopes of a farewell Vuelta victory effectively ended yesterday as he was distanced on the Cornella, conceding 2:33 to Froome et al. "I could tell it was going to be a bad one, I didn't know what was happening, all I knew was that I just felt very, very weak," Contador said. Alasdair Fotheringham has the full story here.

 

127km remaining from 198km

Adam Blythe's Acqua Blue squad has joined Quick-Step at the head of the peloton, which remains 7 minutes behind the escapees.

 

Temperatures continue to soar on the Vuelta as the escapees reach the 80km mark. UAE-Emirates have jointed the chase in the peloton.

 

110km remaining from 198km

Still 7'23 for the leaders as Le Bon's team car pulls alongside the break and offers some advice. Back with the bunch and UAE have also positioned a rider near the front.

And just like that the break lose about a minute of their advantage with Aqua Blue doing most of the pace setting. Team Sky have moved off the front with around 105km to go. 

 

The peloton aren't in any rush as they chip away at the lead. It's at 6'11 with 99km to go. Bahrain Merida have also moved towards the front of the peloton as well.

 

Day by day for Aru at Vuelta a Espana - News Shorts #LV2017 | https://t.co/p70XrHbRzx https://t.co/kR2d41IdyU

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 13:17:57

Quickstep light up the race and out of nowhere they hit the front and string the entire peloton out. We'd just gone through the feedzone but the entire peloton are forced to ride in one long line. 5'46 is the new gap.

 

Just a reminder that we have this gallery of stage/race winning celebrations to enjoy. From Sastre to Sagan, Cavendish to Carlos [Sastre, again sorry].

 

QuickStep riding for Trentin. The CN blogger is a fine rider but the Belgian team should expect more help in the chase today - and just as we say that Lotto Soudal post a man to the front of the bunch.

 

@albertocontador "Yesterday was something very strange, Obviously that was not my place, but now we have to see how many days to recover."

@TrekSegafredo Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 13:38:10

Enjoying the Manzana Postobon team kit immensely. It has something of the ONCE pink Tour de France kit about it. 

 

The man in the kit - Juan Felipe Osorio - is no slouch. Just 22, he's already had some decent results. He's riding for a contract for 2018 right now and not doing his chances any harm at all. 

 

78km remaining from 198km

Into the final 80km of racing, with the break at 4'42. 

 

Once again the sprinters' teams line the peloton out as we roll along through the Spanish countryside. 4'42 with QuickStep and Aqua Blue doing the majority of the work.

 

The five leaders are climbing a cat 3 climb and they're starting to struggle. The gradient is more of a drag but they've been out there all day. The bunch, meanwhile, are rolling along at a decent clip with the gap down to 4'10.

 

Osorio is leading the break at the moment - his shoulders rocking over his Gios bike frame as he takes on the final slopes of the climb. 

 

71km remaining from 198km

Aqua Blue Sport are at the head of the peloton helping Lotto Soudal with the chase. The gap is still holding over three minutes.

71km remaining from 198km

While the cameras were on the peloton, there's been an attack in the breakaway into a massive headwind. They've shattered the break on this climb - only Rubio and Rossetto are in the lead. The others have been dropped on this climb.

They're on the category 3 Alto de Belltall - the attack was instigated by Rossetto, but is a bit ill-advised as now he's only got one companion with a full 70km of road ahead.

68km remaining from 198km

The attack from Rossetto served to temporarily increase the gap to the leaders, it's up to almost four minutes now as the peloton wrestles with that headwind.

66km remaining from 198km

Rossetto takes the maximum points atop the climb, as their gap goes out again to 4:36.

Behind, in the peloton, Ruben Fernandez has a problem with his right foot and is at the medical car with his shoe off. He's had to stop riding for the moment.

61km remaining from 198km

The two leaders are on a shallow descent, motoring along thanks to Rossetto, who has fully committed to his attack. Rubio is hanging on his wheel doing less work - but the gap goes out over five minutes again.

The peloton pass a "parque eolico" - a wind farm with 30-some windmills turning quite well in this headwind.

58km remaining from 198km

The race is heading through the 'Conca de Barberà' wine country, where the temperatures are a bit warmer than the finish, where it's sunny and 30C. But it's humid, so still rather uncomfortable were it not for the breeze.

 The two leaders are pressing on, while the rest of the early break are about to be caught. 

We're inside the final 50km of the stage and we've not seen much of Trek yet. Degenkolb has been down with illness in the last few days but they still have Theuns in their ranks for the sprint finish. 

 

42km remaining from 198km

QuickStep, Aqua Blue and Lotto Soudal are doing the lion share of the work at the moment with Team Sky and Froome just on their shoulder. The two leaders are almost a spent force but they continue to plug away with the gap at 3'33 with 42km to go.

 

It feels like Declerq has been on the front of the peloton since time began but he's till there, pushing the pace and reducing the break's advantage to under four minutes. 

 

We're about to hit an intermediate sprint. If Froome goes for this and wins I'm going back to bed but Quickstep are looking to lead this one out as the two leaders up the road are certain to just roll over the line. 

 

Rubio takes the intermediate sprint from Rossetto with the bunch at 2'26.

 

And Team Sky take up the pace setting. It seems every second does indeed count as Lance Armstrong once told Sally Jenkins to write down on a piece of paper. Who takes the final second in the sprint? A Sky rider , not Froome, takes the final second. 

 

And Team Sky take up the pace setting. It seems every second does indeed count as Lance Armstrong once told Sally Jenkins to write down on a piece of paper. Who takes the final second in the sprint? A Sky rider , not Froome, takes the final second. 

 

25km remaining from 198km

Two minutes. That's the gap between the bunch and the two leaders. Team Sky have drifted to the middle of the back, high-fiving* and cheering** their one second success at the intermediate sprint as the sprinters' teams come back to the front and generate the pace setting. We're motoring into the final 25 of today's stage. 

 

* not factually accurate
** also, not factually accurate. 

 

22km remaining from 198km

22km to go and Lotto Soudal have moved to the front. Orica, QuickStep and UAE have also come up as the two leaders fling everything they have left into the attack. They have 1'33. 

 

De Buyst claims GP Stad Zottegem | https://t.co/dv0zD2G63L https://t.co/KseAmnn5nw

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 15:18:19

Hats off to the two leaders because with 19km to go they're still clear by 1'20. They'll be caught, of course, but this is still an impressive effort. 

 

Trouble for Giant with Hofstede and Kelderman down. The latter has torn his jersey but he's on his feet. He needs to get back to the bunch pronto. 

 

Kelderman has two men with him but he needs more help, that's for sure. They're not back in the cars yet and with 17km to go he's losing time. He was dropped yesterday but this wasn't part of the plan, at all. Meanwhile the two leaders have 1'12 with 17km to go.

 

Kelderman has made it back to the team cars so that's the first part of the job done. He's still with two men so he should make it back. 14.8km to go. It's actually a really technical run-in to the line as we see the entire peloton line out before taking a tight right-hand corner.

 

Latest time check has Kelderman at 50 seconds but that's from the front of the field. He can still make this as we see QuickStep set the pace on the front of the bunch.

 

USA Cycling announce Gary Sutton as head track endurance coach | https://t.co/3EJQNinerr https://t.co/935jVZeteu

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 22nd Aug 2017 15:25:05

Rubio has dropped Rossetto like a stone. Wanted to say that all day. 

 

But back in the bunch there has been a crash. Christian (Aqua) is going to have long ride to the finish on his own. It looks like a classic case of wheel touch.

 

As Rossetto and Rubio link up again. 10km to go as Kelderman makes it back to the peloton with the two leaders holding 20 seconds. 

 

8km remaining from 198km

8km to go and the bunch have caught the two leaders. QuickStep lead the field with Katusha also up there.

 

We've got a headwind, we've got a number of leadout trains that aren't at their best so it's chaos out there as Molano attacks on a bridge. 

 

Orica look organised though as QuickStep try and re-group. The attack from Molano has been caught. Bora take up the pace setting duties with 5km to go.

 

3km to go and a number of GC riders are at the front and trying to keep safe as we see another crash. Pozzovivo is down.

 

Bora still lead the bunch with 2.6km to go.

 

Bora have lost their sprinter for now as Cofidis and QuickStep make use of the German team's hesitation. 

 

FDJ hit he front 1.4km to go as QuickStep hit the front , so do Cannondale.

 

Trentin looks around but he needs to just follow his leadout man as we see Blythe up there.

 

1km to go!

 

QuickStep and Cannondale are going to lead this out.

 

Trentin third wheel. 

 

Lobato takes off first as they take the final corner. Trentin follows the wheel and here he goes.

 

Trentin does it. That's the hat-trick. He's now won Grand Tour stages in the Tour, Giro, and Vuelta. Bravo to the Cyclingnews columnist. 

 

He followed Lobato into the final straight and came around the Lotto rider's left hand side with around 150m to go. In the end Trentin just had two much but he owes a lot to the leadout because all the other sprinters were way back. 

 

1 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 04:43:57
2 Juan José Lobato (Spa) LottoNL-Jumbo
3 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
4 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6 Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7 Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
8 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
9 Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data
10 Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon

 

Here's the GC  for today:

 

General Classification after stage 4
1 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky 08:53:44
2 David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:02
3 Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team 00:00:02
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 00:00:02
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:10
6 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott 00:00:11
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 00:00:38
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:39
9 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 00:00:48
10 Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 00:00:48

 

Lets hear from today's stage winner, Matteo Trentin:

 

I was really looking for a victory because I’m really going good in this last part of the season. After my crash that bring me out of time in the TdF I was just thinking about coming here and winning stages. Two days ago we did a perfect, smart job with Yves Lampaert, and it took the win and the jersey. Today we decided to have my time. The guys were amazing. We got some help from Aqua Blue, UAE and Lotto at the beginning, but then when things went a little bit bananas as it always does in cycling, they just stayed the situation and we got everyone pulling - Tim Declerq pulled the whole day yesterday, he pulled the whole day today. Then basically everybody pulled. Together with Lampy and Alaphilippe really built up a nice lead-out to the finish.


I’m really proud to win this with the Quick-Step team and all the names we have before because next year it’s all going to change. I won in the Tour with them, I won in the Giro with them, and now in the Vuelta also. I’m really proud to make all these presents with this team.

 

Chris Froome (Team Sky) - race leader

I think everyone was afraid of some time splits. It was worth staying up there and spending a bit of energy just to be up front in case of splits today. Obviously my teammates did a massive job in helping me be up there.

It’s good - it’s a great feeling to be back in red after six years. It’s a huge privilege to be in this position.

We’ll get to tomorrow, tomorrow. I’m taking it one day at a time and just enjoying being in the red jersey.

 

Thank you for reading Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Vuelta a Espana. Tune in again on Wednesday for stage 5!

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