Vuelta a Espana: Ben King wins stage 4

Ben King (Dimension Data) combined calm and strength on the final approach to the summit of Puerto de Alfacar to claim victory on stage 4 of the Vuelta a España ahead of Nikita Stalnov (Astana Pro Team), while Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) did enough to retain his red jersey in the face of attacks from Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

The Vuelta's first category 1 summit finish provided two races for the price of one as King and the day's early breakaway battled for stage honours up ahead, while the men with designs on final overall victory took each other's measure on the 12km haul to the finish.

That said, for long stretches of the afternoon, King looked on course to help himself to a stint in the red jersey, as the break's advantage yawned out towards the ten-minute mark and he remained the virtual race leader until the upper reaches of the Puerto de Alfacar.

By that point, King was at the front of the race with Stalnov, after the pair forged clear of the nine-man break just ahead of the final climb to the line. They were initially joined by Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), but the Belgian was quickly dropped once the gradient stiffened.

King was at times visibly frustrated by Stalnov's reluctance to help with the pace-setting as the leading duo were stalked all the way up the mountain by Pierre Rolland (EF-Drapac). For much of the climb, the Frenchman's deficit flitted between 15 and 30 seconds, but he made a mammoth effort to draw within metres of his prey beneath the flamme rouge.

Despite Rolland's fightback, King bided his time until the final 400 metres and then unleashed a fearsome acceleration to rip clear of Stalnov and claim the stage honours. The Kazakhstani rider came home in second place, while an exhausted Rolland crossed the line 13 seconds back in third.

"It's a dream come true. I really can't believe it. I didn't start believing in it until the last kilometre, and I'm really happy for the way it worked out. I'm happy for the confidence the team put in me, giving me the opportunity even though we're riding here in support of Louis [Meintjes]," King said. "I set winning a Grand Tour stage as a goal for myself at the beginning of this year. It's something I've had to keep believing in and have faith that I have that potential. This is really affirming."

King began the day with a deficit of 4:33 on Kwiatkowski, and the breakaway's 8-minute buffer at the base of the climb gave him a fighting chance of divesting the Pole of the red jersey, particularly as Sky seemed reluctant to take up the reins on the lower slopes.

A determined bout of pace-making from LottoNL-Jumbo rather altered the dynamic of the stage, however, with Tour of Utah winner Sepp Kuss impressively whittling down the red jersey group with his tempo.

"My mind was just blank, I was just in the hurt locker," said Kuss, whose stinging pace proved too much for Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and ultimately left Kwiatkowski relatively isolated from his Sky team.

A little under 4 kilometres from the summit, Simon Yates outlined his intentions for this Vuelta with a sharp acceleration. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) briefly considered following but then swung over, and the Briton quickly stretched out his advantage. The only rider who got back on terms was Buchmann, who sensed the general fatigue in the red jersey group and tacked on an attack of his own.

"I could see everybody next to me was on the limit," Buchmann said. "The heat was today a factor and Lotto went very fast."
Yates crossed the line in 8th place on the stage, 2:48 down on King, while Buchmann came home just behind him.

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) accelerated in the final kilometre to finish 10th at 3:07, while Kwiatkowski and a reduced red jersey group that included Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) and Fabio Aru (UAE-Team Emirates) finished 3:15 down.

The margins have grown tighter atop the overall standings as a consequence. Kwiatkowski leads Buchmann by 7 seconds, while Yates is now 3rd at 10 seconds. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lies 4th at 12 seconds, with Kelderman 5th at 25 seconds.

How it unfolded

Although Sunday's trek to Caminito del Rey finished just beyond the top of a category 3 climb, stage 4 was classed as the Vuelta's maiden summit finish. With the demanding finale above Granada in mind – not to mention the soaring temperatures – there was no great resistance to the day's opening attack.

King, Stalnov and Rolland were joined by Luis Angel Maté (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) in forging clear in the opening kilometres, and the peloton was more than content to leave them to it.

Team Sky patrolled the front of the race on behalf of Kwiatkowski's red jersey, and set a steady tempo as Rolland, Maté and company gladly extended their advantage in sizeable increments and reached seven minutes by the time they crested the top of the day's first ascent, the category 1 Alto de la Cabra Montés.

Maté, the so-called Lynx of Andalucia, is always eager to impress on home roads. Already wearing the king of the mountains after his aggressive outing on stage 2, the Cofidis man buttressed his lead by claiming maximum points atop the Cabra Montés.

On the rugged terrain that followed, the margin between the break and the main field continued to grow, and it touched 10 minutes with 35km remaining. Movistar briefly opted to join Team Sky in the pace-making effort at the head of the peloton, but there was precious little urgency and the break began the final climb with a healthy buffer.

Wallays kick-started the attacking among the escapees on the approach to the final climb, and he helped to spark what proved to be the winning move. As the Belgian faded on the lower slopes, King – with Stalnov in tow – pressed on.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data4:33:12
2Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:02
3Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:13
4Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:01:08
5Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:39
6Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:57
7Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos BH0:02:24
8Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:02:48
9Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:02:50
10Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team0:03:07
11Aritz Bagues Kalparsoro (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
12Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:03:13
13Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky0:03:15
14Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
15Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
16Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
17Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
18Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
19Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
20Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
21Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
22David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky
23George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo
24Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
25Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
26Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:03:52
27Sepp Kuss (USA) LottoNL-Jumbo
28Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team0:03:57
29Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:21
30Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team0:05:07
31Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data0:05:09
32Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida
33Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
34Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
35Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
36Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
37Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data0:05:47
38Edward Ravasi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:06:01
39Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:06:11
40Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:06:13
41Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
42Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias0:06:53
43Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:07:18
44Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:07:20
45Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias0:07:45
46José Mendes (Por) Burgos BH
47Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:08:11
48Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
49Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:08:30
50Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
51Daniel Moreno (Spa) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:09:29
52Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
53Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
54Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team
55Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo0:09:38
56Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team0:09:49
57Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
58Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
59Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data
60Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data
61Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
62Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:11:04
63Jorge Cubero Galvez (Spa) Burgos BH
64Stephane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
65Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
66Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
67Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:11:51
68Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:12:16
69Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
70Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:12:19
71Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team
72Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky0:13:12
73Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
74Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
75Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
76Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal
77Mickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
78Léo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
79Tiago Machado (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
80Georg Preidler (Aut) Groupama-FDJ
81Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
82Joey Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
83Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
84Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Katusha-Alpecin
85Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
86Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
87Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:14:03
88Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team
89Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
90Johann Van Zyl (RSA) Dimension Data
91Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
92Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb
93Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
94Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates
95Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
96Damien Howson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:15:08
97Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Sunweb0:15:11
98Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:15:42
99Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
100Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
101Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
102Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb0:15:49
103Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
104Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team0:17:05
105Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team
106Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:17:16
107Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:18:08
108Alexandre Geniez (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:18:35
109Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
110Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
111Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
112Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team Sunweb
113Jordi Simon Casulleras (Spa) Burgos BH
114Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
115Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos BH
116Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
117Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
118Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
119Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin
120Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott
121Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
122Thomas Leezer (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
123Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
124José Gonçalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
125Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos BH0:19:33
126Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott0:20:06
127Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain-Merida0:20:12
128Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:20:17
129Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
130Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Quick-Step Floors0:20:27
131Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
132Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team
133Mathias Le Turnier (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:20:29
134Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:20:31
135Marc Sarreau (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
136Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
137Omar Fraile (Spa) Astana Pro Team
138Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky
139Richie Porte (Aus) BMC Racing Team
140Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
141Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos BH
142Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
143Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
144Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
145Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
146Alex Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
147Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb
148Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
149Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
150Jonathan Lastra Martinez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
151Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky
152Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Team Sky
153Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
154Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
155Antonio Molina Canet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
156Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
157Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
158Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
159Pablo Torres Muiño (Spa) Burgos BH
160Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
161Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
162Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
163Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
164Matthias Brändle (Aut) Trek-Segafredo
165Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
166Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
167Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Floors
168Ian Boswell (USA) Katusha-Alpecin
169Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
170Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
171Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
172Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
173Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
174Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
175Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:22:29
176Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
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Intermediate sprint - Granada, km 143.5
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data4pts
2Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal2
3Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale1
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data25pts
2Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team20
3Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale16
4Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits14
5Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale12
6Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal10
7Oscar Cabedo Carda (Spa) Burgos BH9
8Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott8
9Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe7
10Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team6
11Aritz Bagues Kalparsoro (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias5
12Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team4
13Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky3
14Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team2
15Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors1
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Mountain 1 (Cat. 1) Alto de la Cabra Montés, km 66.7
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits10pts
2Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale6
3Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale4
4Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data2
5Lars Boom (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo1
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Mountain 2 (Cat. 1) Puerto de Alfacar, km 161.4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data10pts
2Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team6
3Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale4
4Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits2
5Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale1
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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Astana Pro Team13:47:54
3Movistar Team0:02:07
4Dimension Data0:02:38
5AG2R La Mondiale0:02:49
7Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:31
8EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:04:39
10Team Sky0:08:01
11Euskadi Basque Country0:09:27
12UAE Team Emirates0:09:28
13Quick-Step Floors0:11:05
17Lotto Soudal0:19:07
18BMC Racing Team0:21:05
20Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:22:09
21Team Sunweb0:24:11
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General classification after stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky13:47:19
2Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:07
3Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:10
4Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:12
5Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:25
6Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:00:30
7Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:33
8Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:37
10Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors0:00:42
11Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
12Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:00:43
13George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo0:00:45
14Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team0:00:46
15Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:00:47
16Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:00:48
17David De La Cruz (Spa) Team Sky0:00:53
18Benjamin King (USA) Dimension Data0:01:05
19Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
20Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:02:00
21Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team0:02:42
22Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:02:44
23Davide Formolo (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:02:50
24Louis Meintjes (RSA) Dimension Data0:03:10
25Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar Team0:03:18
26Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:30
27Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:03:31
28Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ0:03:46
29Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida0:03:54
30Cristian Rodriguez Martin (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:05:12
31Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data0:05:23
32Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:58
33Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:06:09
34Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:06:27
35Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:07:00
36Davide Villella (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:07:15
37Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:07:21
38Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:07:28
39Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky0:07:33
40Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:07:35
41Daniel Moreno (Spa) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:07:54
42Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data0:08:04
43Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar Team0:08:10
44Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:08:12
45Jose Herrada (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:08:18
46Igor Anton (Spa) Dimension Data0:08:26
47Pierre Rolland (Fra) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale0:08:27
48Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias0:08:58
49Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:09:11
50Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin0:09:33
51Stephane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
52Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team0:09:50
53Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:09:53
54Floris De Tier (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo0:10:10
55Luis Guillermo Mas Bonet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:10:43