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Good afternoon and welcome to stage 4 of the Vuelta a Espana. The riders are just about to roll out from Velez.
It's the Vuelta a Espana so the mountains come early and today is the first summit finish of the race. We already had an uphill finish at Caminito del Rey but today's test is likely to see some bigger gaps. Read Alasdair Fotheringham's preview of this first GC test, here.
We are a go in Malaga this afternoon. It's a lengthy neutral zone for the riders and we won't have racing proper for another 15 minutes.
Michal Kwiatkowski is the man in red again today after easily defending his jersey in yesterday's sprint stage. Nothing changed in the top 10 following stage 3 - it's unlikely we'll be able to say that later today. Here is how things stand at the moment.
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 9:10:52
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:14
3 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:25
4 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:28
5 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:30
6 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:32
8 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:33
9 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
10 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:35
The riders are making their way towards the coast with the start proper in Torre del Mar. The opening section of the stage is pretty flat along the coast with the climbs coming after they turn inland.
I don't wish to jinx things, so if you could all knock on a bit of wood after reading this just to be sure... While there have been a few crashes and illness in the bunch, we have not had any abandons so far at this year's Vuelta a Espana.
Away from the Vuelta, the Aqua Blue, Veranda's Willems-Crelan saga continues. After Aqua Blue announced yesterday that they would fold at the end of this season, it was confirmed to Cyclingnews today that Veranda's Willems are in talks with the Dutch Roompot team. Read more about it here.
We're three kilometres into the stage and an eight-man move is already off the front with one rider trying to chase them down. The gap is only 20 seconds to the bunch at the moment.
Mountains classification leader Luis Angel Mate is one of the eight out front, while the one chaser has been brought to heel. The peloton is not ready to let this one go just yet.
The eight leaders have been joined by Ben Gastauer to make it a nine-man move. The riders out front are: Ben King (Dimension Data), Nikita Salnov 9Astana), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Oscar Cabedo Carda (Burgos BH), Aritz Bagues (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) and Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale).
151km remaining from 161km
It looks like this is the move of the day as the peloton eases up and the gap goes out to 1:40.
This is Maté's third consecutive day in the breakaway as he looks to extend his lead in the mountains classification. Cofidis' record in Grand Tours in recent years has been pretty poor so this stint in the white and blue jersey is a rare moment in the limelight for the team. Maté was in his usual playful mood at the start of the day.
Maté's closest rival in the mountains classification is Rolland, who is in the break today. There are 20 points available today so Mate will have to keep a keen eye on Rolland today. This are the standings before the first climb of the day.
1 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 24 pts
2 Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 12
3 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 5
4 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 4
5 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 3
6 Jordi Simon Casulleras (Spa) Burgos BH 3
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 2
8 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 1
9 Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 1
10 Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias 1
142km remaining from 161km
Team Sky is controlling the front of the bunch at the moment. The gap to the escapees has grown to 2:48.
It has been a busy week for new team announcements. In the women's peloton, WNT have confirmed the signing of teammates Kirsten Wild and Lisa Brennauer from Wiggle High 5, while Trek have announced that Lotta Lepisto will join their ever-strengthening line-up. Read more about Lepisto's move here.
On the men's side, Katusha-Alpecin have confirmed Dani Navarro and Jens Debusschere, Ivan Sosa is heading to Trek-Segafredo and the Izagirre brothers are heading to Astana. You can keep up with all of the latest moves here with our transfer guide.
It's a lovely 30 degrees down in the south of Spain and there's a light breeze coming off the sea at the moment. The riders will be turning off the coast soon enough and heading towards the mountains. The gap to the leaders has grown slightly to three minutes.
Maté tells the Vuelta's website that he's going to continue to fight for the polka dot jersey, though the days in the break may take their toll.
“Today we’re leaving Malaga but we’re getting to Granada. I’m very happy to have been able to spend those days at home, with my family and fans. If I can keep adding KOM points I’ll try. We’ll have to see what kind of energy I have," he said.
While the conditions are quite pleasant where the peloton is right now, it is much hotter at the finish line. I'm told that it is a mighty 38 degrees at the finish and it is likely to be hotter by the time the riders reach Alfacar.
The gap to the nine escapees continues to grow and they have four minutes on the relaxed peloton behind. Following a short descent, they will begin a gradual rise to the first climb of the day.
Each of the nine riders in today's breakaway represent a different team, which is almost half of the teams in the race. Of the four wild card entries in the race, three have made this break with Caja Rural the only one missing out. This is the first day so far that they haven't been represented in the move, after making it in the first two road stages.
117km remaining from 161km
The gap continues to grow out - it's now 4:40 - and the pace over the first hour of racing has been a relatively swift 40kph. That is faster than the quickest predicted pace, though it will slow in the second half of this stage.
Mikel Landa is at home at the moment recovering from his San Sebastian crash. His former team boss Alexandre Vinokourov has been speaking with the Spanish press and told them that he wants Landa back in his team. Read more about it here.
Pierre Rolland says that he's been let off the leash for the opening few days of the Vuelta a Espana but that he'll be working for Rigoberto Uran in the coming stages. This is one of the last races for Rolland at EF-Drapac, with the Frenchman set to move to Vital Concept next season.
“The first days weren’t so easy, we can already see gaps in the general classification. Today is the first summit finish, we’ll see how it goes. The team has given me some opportunities for the first days and I’m taking them because I know I’ll have to ride for Rigoberto (Uran) afterwards. I have the chance to enjoy myself, I do it. Today, I want to be at the front again," said Rolland.
The leaders are on the first climb of the day, the Alto de la Cabra Montes. It is 15.7km and averages 5.9 per cent.
The gap dropped down to just over four minutes but it's expanding again for the nine up front. They have 4:42 on the peloton, which continues to be led by Team Sky. Kwiatkowski's teammates have been on the front of the peloton since the start of the day.
It is interesting to see Lars Boom in the breakaway today. He had some serious stomach issues on day two that led to him availing of a fan's campervan toilet. He subsequently crashed on a descent and just made it through the time cut. He made it through a bit more comfortably yesterday but said he wasn't feeling great. He's obviously feeling a lot better this afternoon.
Prior to the Vuelta a Espana, Michal Kwiatkowski said that his participation was a bit of an experiment. It's the first time that he has ridden two Grand Tours in the same season, let along two back to back. He wasn't sure if he could hold onto his Tour de France form but has had a cracking start to the race. He says he will try to keep a hold of the red jersey as long as he can but today will be his first major test as race leader. Read his post-stage comments from yesterday, here.
98km remaining from 161km
The leaders are closing in on the top of the climb and they're continuing to extend their advantage as I type. The latest time check for the nine out front is 5:17.
Less than five kilometres to the top of the first climb for the escapees. Back in the bunch, the whole Team Sky squad is strung out on the front with Kwiatkowski firmly at the back. Movistar is keeping a watchful eye on them but happy to let them take up the workload for now.
There is more fallout from the demise of Aqua Blue with the team now pulling out of their planned ride at the Tour of Britain. Read the full story here.
Maté goes long to try and take the monutains points but he's got Gastauer on his tail.
Gastauer almost took Maté but sat up just before the line and the Spaniard takes the full points. Rolland took just a little too long to respond to Maté's attack and didn't have the legs to pull him back. He was third over the top of the climb.
Back in the bunch, Peter Sagan is playing water carrier and collecting bidons for his teammates. Today is one to get through for Sagan, who finished third in yesterday's sprint finish.
89km remaining from 161km
There is a very short descent after that first climb before the riders start climbing an uncategorised ascent. The gap to the leaders is still growing out and the nine have 6:39 on the peloton.
Pavel Sivakov is making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana. His father Alexei Sivakov is a former rider and he has been giving his son advice on how to manage himself over three weeks.
“It’s going well, it’s good, there’s a nice atmosphere in the team. We have the red jersey, I couldn’t ask for moire. So far, the team has me save some energy. I haven’t had the best preparation.
"I cut myself at the Tour of Poland and it got infected so I missed some days of training. I’m taking the first week easy, pulling at the beginning of the stages and then trying to save some strength. My father has told me to go easy. Three weeks, that’s really long. You can’t go crazy on the first days.”
Riders are regularly dropping back to pick up bidons from the team cars. It's getting hotter as the day goes on and keeping hydrated is hugely important. The heat has been taking its toll on some of the riders as it always does at the Vuelta. Rolland has stocked up on quite a few bidons and a lot of energy gels/bars.
Though they passed the KOM point quite some time ago, the riders are still climbing. They will very briefly descend in a few kilometres, before climbing again ahead of a long descent towards an unclassified climb. Team sky continue to work on the front with Dylan van Baarle managing things along with Salvatore Puccio.
Ion Izagirre is now the designated leader of the Bahrain-Merida with his brother Gorka and Vincenzo Nibali losing time on stage 2. He is just 30 seconds down on Kwiatkowski and has been to look at today's finale in the build-up to the Vuelta.
“We did a reconnaissance of today’s final climb just before La Vuelta. It has some hard stretches and it will be demanding. We have a strong team here," he said. "We’re ready for battle. I think today the fight will begin and we’ll have to be up there with the best. Some favourites may lose some time, so we have to be cautious. For us, it’s about following and trying to get the best result.”
78km remaining from 161km
The leaders are passing through the feed zone but they've already stocked up on refreshments. They've got some very full pockets as the gap to the peloton increases to 7:50.
Some commendable discarding of rubbish from some of the riders in the breakaway as they keep hold of their gel wrappers until they reach the little zone. Every little helps. Meanwhile, Pierre Rolland is trying to eat a banana and descend. Not an easy thing to do.
This is the longer descent for the escapees, while the peloton is still climbing. There is another short rise to come before a long run through the valley to the final climb.
There is other racing going on at the moment around Europe and the prologue of the Boels Ladies Tour finished a short while ago. I won't spoil the result for you, but if you want to see who won then you can find it here.
67km remaining from 161km
The peloton is busy looking through their musettes and figuring out what they're going to have for lunch. The lull is allowing the breakaway to increase their advantage. The nine riders have eight minutes on the bunch and with 67km to go they could well make this one stick.
On the descent, one of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders has slipped off the front. He looks around and realises that he's along. There's little point in him attacking with the gap between the two groups so big at the moment.
Ben King is the best placed rider in the overall classification in today's breakaway. The Dimension Data rider started the day 4:33 down on Michal Kwiatkowski and is currently the virtual race leader.
60km remaining from 161km
The pace on the descent has the peloton strung out into one long line but the gap is staying pretty stationary at just over 8:20. Just 60km to go and the break is increasingly looking like they could fight it out for the win. There's still a chance the peloton could take it back but it depends on how they ride it.
Thibaut Pinot was having a good Giro d'Italia earlier this year until he fell seriously ill on the penultimate stage and ended up in hospital. He returned to racing with third overall at the Tour de Pologne and he's looking to put the Giro behind him with a good Vuelta result. The Frenchman is feeling good and hopes to get something good out of today.
“I think I’m on track. We’ll see how things go today but I think I’m good. I hope to keep improving as the race goes on but I hope for a good performance already today with my current condition. Today it’s going to be really hot at Granada, it could be a real factor," said Pinot.
"We’ve studied the the final climb. There are technical stretches. We’ll need a good positioning at the bottom and then we could have 10 riders at the finish or guys split everywhere. I think the favourites are the same as it was on Sunday. Kwiatkowski and Valverde will battle for victory if it comes to a sprint. Riders like Quintana or Simon Yates could start going on the move. It will be the first showdown of La Vuelta.”
The gap to the escapees has gone to over nine minutes and there is little reaction from the peloton. It's pretty flat across the front of the bunch, which indicates that the pace is comparatively low. The peloton seems content to let this one go for now.
With the breakaway looking like they are going to fight for victory between themselves, we can take a look at who the potential contenders are in this move. Pierre Rolland is probably the favourite, given his pedigree. He is one of two riders in this group to have won a Grand Tour stage in the past. Lars Boom is another, but this finale does not suit him at all.
Jelle Wallays puts in a small dig off the front. He looks like he wants to thin out the group. If Wallays wants to take something out of today then he would have to go for an early attack because he is not the strongest climber in this group.
In terms of potential stage winner, Luis Angel Mate is another clear contender for the victory. He would be able to add to his mountains classification tally but a stage win would also be huge for him. Despite his aggressive style of racing, he has never won a Grand Tour stage.
Here is the breakaway, who do you think will win from this group?
It will be interesting to see how Team Sky play it and if they let the red jersey pass to Ben King or if they drag back the time to keep Kwiatkowski in it for another day? King is ok on the climbs but they could certainly take a chunk of time out of him on the final ascent if they put their mind to it. Right now, he has around five minutes of a buffer on the red jersey position.
The riders are heading towards Granada for the intermediate sprint. Granada is, of course, where the famous Alhambra palace is. It is a spectacular structure that dates back to 889AD.
33km remaining from 161km
There is a bit more pace in the breakaway as they make their way to the intermediate sprint and this final climb. They want as much time on the peloton as possible and they've increased their gap to 9:35.
We have another attack from Wallays and Rolland sets off in chase.
The leaders know that they have a one in nine chance of taking the win today and the accord in the move has broken down somewhat. There are several riders in this breakaway that know they need to attack if they have any hope of winning the stage.
Ordinarily, teams don't like handing away the leader's jersey but Team Sky wouldn't be too worried about giving it to someone like Ben King for a couple of days. King would fall away in the big mountains and they could take the pressure off a little bit in this opening week.
It has been a horrible season for Dimension Data so far with so many injuries, and the team is rooted to the bottom of the rankings at the moment so a small stint in red would be a major boost to their morale.
Ian Boswell is making his way through the bunch at the moment. The American has some blood on his legs and a bandage on his arm. We heard rumours of a fall for him earlier on and it looks like it was a hefty one.
25km remaining from 161km
A tasty 9:45 for the leaders now with 25km to go. Some discussions between Lars Boom and Jelle Wallays but things have calmed down for now.
Before things kick off, now seems like a good moment to remind you of the riders in the breakaway. They are: Ben King (Dimension Data), Nikita Stalnov (Astana), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo), Oscar Cabedo Carda (Burgos BH), Aritz Bagues (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) and Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale).
A win for EF Education First would also be a major boost with the team taking just four victories this season - not one of them has been at WorldTour level. It has been a generally miserable season for them. They went into the Tour de France with so much hope but they lost their team leader Rigoberto Uran to a big crash in the opening week. He's at the Vuelta hoping to make up for it.
It would be hard to overstate how big a win would be for the three Pro Continental teams in this breakaway - Caja Rural must be kicking themselves for not making it into the move. Burgos BH and Euskadi Basque Country are riding their first seasons at Pro Continental level, while Cofidis are stalwarts at this level. They last won a Grand Tour stage at the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
Some more attacks coming off the front of the leading group and Cabedo of Burgos BH looks like he's struggling a little bit. He eventually makes it back on.
17km remaining from 161km
Wallays attacks for the intermediate sprint but King comes through to take the points and, more importantly, takes the three bonus seconds available.
King and Wallays have pulled out a gap and Stalnov is trying to bridge over to them.
While all of this is going on, the gap to the escapees is coming down. It has dropped down to 8:54 and the peloton continues to close.
The three leaders have 20 seconds on the group of chasers while the gap to the peloton has been significantly cut to 8:10.
13km remaining from 161km
The breakaway group is further splitting up with Gastauer, Mate and Rolland leaving Boom, Cabedo and Bagues behind.
That second group has come back together as the gap to the three leaders continues to grow out. Riders such as Rolland and Mate will believe that they can bring them back on the climb. The gap is 27 seconds at the moment with the peloton now 7:57 behind.
There are a lot of teams in the peloton working on the front, trying to get their leader into the right place for the foot of the climb. Sunweb, Movistar and UAE Team Emirates all have trains on the front.
Meanwhile, up front, Wallays has been distanced slightly as the three leaders start the final climb. King and Stalnov carry on alone.
King and Stalnov have 38 seconds on the chasing group, but they are closing.
In that chase group, Cabedo is really struggling to keep in touch with his companions. He's been swinging for a little while now.
10km remaining from 161km
Movistar leads the peloton onto the final climb of the day. The gap to the escapees has dropped to 7:30.
Remember, King's time is 4:33 on the red jersey, so he's got just under three minutes to play with at this time.
Maté has attacked his companions. He wants the KOM points and maybe a stage win to take home. He is now 51 seconds behind King and Stalnov.
Boom has been dropped from the chasing group, and Bagues and Cabedo are going backwards. Now Rolland goes on the attack.
Rolland quickly catches up with Wallays, who was dropped early on the climb.
9km remaining from 161km
Some discussions between the two leaders. Rolland has taken about 15 seconds out of their advantage and he's just 30 seconds back. This is far from over.
In the peloton, LottoNL-Jumbo have moved to the front en-mass and are hammering out a pace.
Rolland is happily sitting in the wheel of Wallays, who is pulling him along. Just 24 seconds for Rolland as King and Stalnov seem to be arguing.
Rolland has kicked on and dropped Wallays, who is struggling.
On the flatter section, Wallays was helping Rolland to pull the gap back a bit but they have started climbing again and the leaders were gaining time again. Rolland is still 25 seconds back but he's putting in a concerted effort.
7km remaining from 161km
The gap to the peloton is 6:18 as the pace abates a tad in the peloton.
Rolland is out of the saddle as he tries to bring the back back. He's looking a little uncomfortable actually and the gap is going back out.
Vincenzo Nibali has been dropped from the peloton. He said ahead of the start that he was still suffering pain in his back after his Tour de France crash.
5km remaining from 161km
It's a race against time for King as he looks for this red jersey. He will get some bonus seconds for finishing in the top three on the stage and he did get three at the intermediate sprint so his gap to Kwiatkowski is actually 4:30 . As the gap to the peloton drops to 5:42, it looks like it is going to be very close.
LottoNL-Jumbo are still working on the front and they have four riders up there, including Steven Kruijswijk and George Bennett.
Rolland has slipped back a little further, he's now 28 seconds behind King and Stalnov.
The leaders have passed through the most challenging part of this climb but there are still a couple of tricky parts before the gradient drops off a little bit. Still over four kilometres to go.
Simon Yates moves up to the back of the LottoNL-Jumbo train, while other riders are dropped from the bunch. Ilnur Zakarin is one of those distanced.
3km remaining from 161km
Rolland has found a second wind or the two up front or tiring as he is now just 16 seconds off the leaders. He can almost see them up the road.
In the peloton, Michal Kwiatkowski is sitting behind George Bennett, but it looks like he has no teammates with him. It seems that De la Cruz has been dropped.
Nairo Quintana is looking pretty comfortable and Valverde is further back in the group. Aru has been distanced slightly and is chasing furiously to get back on. Sepp Kuss is setting a blistering pace.
King and Stalnov pulling away from Rolland again as the gap grows to 24 seconds. The gap to the pelootn, however, is hovering at 4:27. King could still take red but it is looking unlikely now.
2km remaining from 161km
This is not a very consistent climb with the gradient constantly changing and it's very hard to get into a proper rhythm. Lars Boom is now with the peloton. He riders very briefly on the front but he cannot keep up with the pace set by his teammate Kuss.
Aru has made it back onto the group of favourites and I can see Lopez looming in the background too. It looks like Ion Izagirre is also up there, as is Thibaut Pinot.
Simon Yates has attacked!
Laurens De Plus has been dropped from the main group. He has been in trouble for some time.
Valverde switches to the right side of the road and attacks but he's quickly brought back.
Other riders in this main group are Kelderman, Majka and Mas.
Yates has 20 seconds on the red jersey group.
The leaders are under the flamme rouge. Rolland is still chasing as hard as he can.
Stalnov leads King in this cagey finale 500 to go
Rolland has caught the pair
He's had to dig deep though and he's got nothing in the tank.
King attacked with a couple of hundred metres to go and he put a massive gap into Stalnov to take an emphatic victory. That is a huge win for him. We wait to see what the gap to the peloton is but he's unlikely to have taken the red jersey.
Rolland took third and Mate crosses the line a minute later for fourth and to keep the mountains jersey for another day.
Meanwhile, in the peloton, Lopez has gone on the attack but there is now response from Kwiatkowski, he's glued to Valverde's wheel.
Simon Yates is driving to the line and he's taken quite a bit of time
Yates finishes 2:49 down on King.
Valverde slips off the front in the final metres and Kwiatkowski chases. Valverde finishes 3:14 down and Kwiatkowski is two seconds behind the Spaniard.
Kwiatkowski is still in red but he's lost a small bit of time.
Kwiatkowski is still in red but he's lost a small bit of time.
Kwiatkowski keeps his red jersey by seven seconds over Emanuel Buchmann, who also slipped away in the final kilometres. Yates has moved up to third and is just 10 seconds back while Valverde is now in fourth at 12 seconds.
This is how the stage finished
1 Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data 4:33:12
2 Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:00:02
3 Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:00:13
4 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:08
5 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:39
6 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:57
7 Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos BH 0:02:24
8 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:02:48
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:50
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team 0:03:07
Incidentally, that is Ben King's first win since he took stage 2 of the 2016 Tour of California.
That stage has shaken up the GC a little bit. Here is how it looks after that finale.
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 13:47:19
2 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:07
3 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:10
4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:12
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:25
6 Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:00:30
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:33
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:00:33
9 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:37
10 Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:42
While King was soaring to victory, his teammate Louis Meintjes lost time. He gave away close to two minutes on the main contenders.
A few words from King following his stage win.
"It’s a dream come true. I didn’t start believing it until the last kilometre. I’m really happy for the way that it worked out. Happy for the confidence that the team put in me, giving me the opportunity, although we’re here riding in support of Louis. We’ve been building all season towards this. I raced with this team in Austria and the Vuelta a Burgos and i=we just continue to improve. The spirits are high and I’m looking forward to the rest of this month. For me personally, I’m still in shock.
"I set winning a Grand Tour stage as a goal for myself at the beginning of this year. It’s just something that I have to keep believing that I have the potential. It’s really affirming. Myself and my wife have sacrificed so much to make this happen."
A quick peruse of the results shows that David de la Cruz did actually come across the line in the group with Kwiatkowski, hiding right at the back. That's good news for Sky as he's likely to take up the GC mantle later in the race.
It was a strong ride from the LottoNL-Jumbo team today. They put in a huge effort in the finale and their young neo-pro Sepp Kuss showed himself very well, putting a lot of the GC riders in trouble on some of the steeper sections. They have Kruijswijk sitting in ninth at the moment while George Bennett is in 13th at 45 seconds.
While De la Cruz kept touch with the main group of favourites, Team Sky were very low in numbers in that finale. We're used to seeing them have huge numbers at the end in all stages but this more mixed line-up will not dominate the Vuelta in the same way as the team usually does in Grand Tours.
Despite being distanced, Aru did make it across the line with the main group of favourites. It wasn't a good sign for the Italian being gapped on a climb such as this.
As well as keeping a hold of his red jersey, Kwiatkowski is still top of the points competition and the combined classification.
Ben King and Nikita Stalnov playing mind games on the final climb.
For a report and results from today's stage, plus plenty of photos, head here.
You can also find full results and a gallery from today's prologue at the Boels Ladies Tour, here.
That is all from our live coverage of today's stage of the Vuelta a Espana. Come back for more tomorrow.
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