Hola and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of stage 4 of the Vuelta a España.
After Monday’s testing summit finish, La Vuelta returns to flatter terrain with the 163.9km fourth stage from El Burgo de Osma to Molina de Aragon.
As the Cyclingnews live blimp takes height, the last riders are signing on and gathering for the start.
🇪🇸 #LaVuelta21 Wave 👋 and sign 🖊 pic.twitter.com/VU17alIe9CAugust 17, 2021
The stage 4 profile is more undulating than the second stage, but this is once again very benign terrain for the Vuelta compared to yesterday's steep finish and the nine mountain finishes that will characterise the GC battle.
As on day two, the most likely difficulty on what are very open roads is the wind, which often barrels across Spain’s central plateau.
The stage takes the race south-east from the start in El Burgo de Osmo to the finish town of Molina de Aragón, which is overlooked by a magnificent castle that was first established by the Moors in the 10th century and by the Torre de Aragón fortress, which stands on the crest of the same hill.
The 2021 ‘Vuelta of the Cathedrals’ would not be worthy of its name without a start in the Soria locality of El Burgo de Osma.
The Cathedral of Santa María de la Asunción’s Gothic structure has stood over the municipality since 1232.
The riders have rolled out from the start but face a long neutralised sector to the true start of the 163.9km stage.
The neutralised sector is 4.7km long.
After Monday's mountain finish atop Picon Blanco we have a new race leader, with Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) wearing the La Roja jersey.
He leads with a 25-second margin on Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo). Early leader and 2020 winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) is now third at 30 seconds.
In the final three kilometres of the steep climb, the 34-year-old Estonian surged to the front of the race to secure his first Vuelta stage victory in 10 years.
He distanced Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) and Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), with the American finishing 21 seconds back and Elissonde 36 seconds back in third.
Click below to read our full stage report, see our photo gallery and full results.
Back to today's stage and when the flag dropped we can an immediate attack.
Carlos Canal and Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) have quickly opened a 30-second gap.
This could be the start of the break of the day.
The three are not a threat overall nor to the sprinters, so the peloton is letting them go clear.
The gap is up to 1:00.
The early kilometres start with a gradual climb and that is ideal terrain for a break to go clear.
After hot sunny weather in the opening stages, the riders will enjoy the more reasonable 25C temperatures expected today.
150km to go
After just 13km, the three-rider break has extended their lead to 2:50.
This was the weather at the start.
Another day at the office at #LaVuelta21 under the Spanish sun ☀️😎#UAETeamEmirates #RideTogether pic.twitter.com/pPd5g3gt2aAugust 17, 2021
After 20km, the gap has settled at 2:40, with the peloton starting to ride tempo to keep the trio under control.
The three riders are Carlos Canal and Angel Madrazo of Burgos-BH and Joan Bou
Today's stage takes the Vuelta southeast from the Burgos region and into the more central Castiglia-La Mancia region to the east of the capital Madrid.
The small finish town of Molina de Aragón is half way between Madrid and Zaragoza.
Molina de Aragón sits at an altitude of 1065m on the high plain in the east of the Guadalajara province.
The three attackers don't represent too a threat for Taaramäe, the best classified rider on GC is Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) but he is 7:25 behind.
Canal is at 11:08 and Bou is at 12:13.
Rein Taaramäe won stage 3 and taken the lead on the first summit finish but behind the Estonian the true overall contenders did battle on Picón Blanco with cracks and time gaps appearing in a number or contenders and their chances over success in this year's race.
As the Slovenian himself re-confirmed at the summit of Picón Blanco, his ideal result from the Vuelta a España is if he is in the red leader’s jersey after the final stage in Santiago de Compostela in three weeks time.
Roglič is third overall at 30 seconds and so remains perfectly poised to strike, while the added stress and post-stage obligations of leading the race have now evaporated.
Click the link below to read more of Alasdair Fotheringham's excellent GC analysis.
Alasdair and Barry Ryan are on the ground in Spain for Cyclingnews, producing daily news stories, interviews and analysis.
125km to go
The peloton continues to keep the break in check, with the gap at 2:45.
After a steady opening 30km, the stage begins to climb now, with two non-categorised climbs.
The sprinters' team may slow the pace here to limit the suffering of their leaders.
Jasper Philipsen won the stage 2 sprint and will be a threat today.
There could be six or seven chances for the fastmen to fight for victory across the three-week race. With the sprint field not packed with top names, there are opportunities for riders emerge and bolster their palmarès in Spain.
Before the start of the Vuelta Daniel Ostanek picked out the five best sprinters to watch.
Click the link below to read who make it into our five.
As we predicted, the trio of attackers have pushed their lead out to 4:00 on the climbs.
Madrazo is a well-known climber and breakaway rider, having won a stage of the Vuelta in 2019 to the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre.
110km to go
The trio can enjoy a gradual descent off the climb and push on at speed, taking turns on the front.
The stage 3 mountain finish changed the race lead and saw Egan Bernal pull on the best young rider's white jersey.
A new look for @Eganbernal today at #LaVuelta21 ⚪️ Young Rider jersey looking 👌(📸 @charlylopezph) pic.twitter.com/ml9QtxTBLrAugust 17, 2021
Rein Taaramäe 's Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert teammates are leading the peloton to defend his La Roja jersey.
They are lined out on the front, with the gap at 4:30.
Here's the break out front in the Spanish countryside.
🏁 Etapa 4 - Stage 4 | #LaVuelta21🚴🚴La escapada con @carloscanal01 , @AngelMadrazo y @JoanBou97.🎥 The gap of the break of Canal, Madrazo and Bou has increased to 4 minutes.👉https://t.co/zqaO4BeuEa pic.twitter.com/2JulhFtJW9August 17, 2021
The exposed narrow roads have sparked a brief moment of echelons and splits.
However the wind is not strong and so the peloton should come back together.
The roads are rolling through wheat fields and sunflowers but Intermarche's pace is dragging the peloton along.
The pace and narrow roads means Rein Taaramäe opts to take a natural break on the move at the front of the peloton.
He could get a fine for that but avoids dropping to the back of the past-moving peloton.
Jasper Philipsen has a Alpecin-Fenix teammate on the front of the peloton to help Intermarche chase the break.
The Belgian sprinter wants to ensure a sprint at the end of today's stage. We will probably see other sprinter teams help out later in the stage.
The stage 3 finish produced some winners and losers. Movistar impressed with Enric Mas kicking away to gain three seconds on his GC rivals.
However Richard Carapaz was a loser, as he suffered on the steep finish and lost a minute.
Adam Yates was clearly the sharpest for the British team, while Egan Bernal was robust enough to cross the line in the same time as his chief rival Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
Click below to read Barry Ryan's story on the performance of Ineos Grenadiers yesterday.
Groupama-FDJ have also send a rider to the front of the bunch and helped reduce the gap to 2:30 now.
80km to go
Tobias Ludvigsson is doing the hard work for Groupama-FDJ on the front.
75km to go
The trio of attackers are going deep to try to stay away but their lead has dipped below 2:00 as they near the intermediate sprint of the day.
Riders have collected musettes and so the pace is steady for now.
This is a landscape moment.
🌻🌻🌻🚴🚴🚴🎥 @IntermarcheWG #LaVuelta21 pic.twitter.com/lIiHLqu3wXAugust 17, 2021
As the terrain turns hillier and harder, the break's lead continues to fall. It is down to 1:15 now as a convoy or race cars fly past after the fedd zone.
The sprint comes in Colea del Pinar and is on a short climb.
This could be interesting.
Jasper Philipsen and Fabio Jakobsen are tied on 50 points in the green jersey competition.
So who will sprint for some points in the intermediate sprint?
The break sprint it out for glory.
Bou beats the two Burgos-BH riders to win the intermediate sprint.
Behind Deceuninck-QuickStep sent out Florian Senechal to win the bunch sprint at the intermediate point. Philipsen seemed surprised but sprinted late to finish 5th and score a few points.
Of course the stage result will offer much more points and decide who wears the green jersey tomorrow.
The peloton has reduced the gap on the break to the physchological 1:00 point.
These are the views of the rolling roads in Spain.
🏁 Etapa 4 - Stage 4 | #LaVuelta21🚴🚴 @AlpecinFenix @IntermarcheWG 👉https://t.co/zqaO4Bw62K📸: @charlylopezph pic.twitter.com/qo4T67gHDSAugust 17, 2021
50km to go
The peloton seems to be holding the break at 1:00, playing cat and mouse as the kilometres tick down.
The terrain is exposed and rolling now and will stay that way until near the finish in Molina de Aragón.
The race turn right soon and so the cross wind will turn into a tail wind for a fast finale.
instead of chasing the break, the riders are spread across the road.
All the sprinters teams are up front: Groupama, Bora, BikeExchange and Deceuninck-QuickStep.
The huge wind turbines along the roadside are slowly turning but the wind is only blowing at 12/15km/h.
It is not a factor today.
Before speed rises for the final kilometres and sprint, it is an ideal time to feed.
... Y que no les falte nunca de nada 🍼👏💙@alejanvalverde | @Nelsoliveira89#RodamosJuntos | #LaVuelta21 | @Elite_cycling 📸 @PhotoGomezSport pic.twitter.com/newoMD4CxFAugust 17, 2021
Two horse riders are trying to stay alongside the peloton but struggle to hold the pace.
35km to go
The gap is down to 40 seconds as the peloton stays compact and spread out but with the pace rising more and more.
Primoz Roglic is at the back of the peloton after a bike change.
Roglic is paced back by a teammate and seems cool and collected.
Roglic is in the peloton and is trying to move up via the middle.
Up front Carlos Canal and Angel Madrazo (Burgos-BH) and Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) are trying to stay clear.
Their lead is pegged at 40 seconds but the peloton is likely to pounce very soon.
These are the brave trio who have been out front all day.
The peloton has eased slightly but the teams are all lined out, protecting their leaders.
#LaVuelta21 It's been a straightforward stage so far as we head towards Molina de Aragón with 22km to go.The peloton are letting the 3-rider breakaway dangle around 55 seconds ahead as our boys move into position behind💪 pic.twitter.com/yaKVZgdP1LAugust 17, 2021
Matthews was third in the first bunch sprint and believes he can do better today:
“Its uphill, which suits me better normally. The flat fast ones are not normally my forte but today suits me a lot better," he said at the start.
"I think we just need to concentrate on ourselves. I think if the boys can get me in a good position in the final there, I can do my thing. We’ll just concentrate on making sure we’re in the front and where we need to be for the sprint. No pressure. I just enjoy riding my bike.
"I wasn’t meant to do the Vuelta, so every bonus I get there is awesome.”
15km to go
Alpecin-Fenix and Groupama-FDJ up the pace and the break is about to be swept up.
The road to the finish cuts through a low valley of wheat fields and bush, avoiding the more technical gorges and country roads.
The riding finish will make for a testing finish and so UAE Team Emirates have opted to work for and protect Matteo Trentin.
There we go, with 13km to go, the break eases up, congratulates each other and are swept up.
It's gruppo compatto and all set for a sprint finish.
Fabio Jakobsen is Deceuninck-Quick Step's sprint option.
“I look forward to today and tomorrow. I think they will be bunch sprints," he said at the start.
"Today is a bit harder because the last metres are uphill. It won’t be a fast sprint, I think it will be more a power sprint and I look forward to it.
"I think all the guys who sprinted into the top 10 on the second stage are all strong, and they can all win on a finish like this. Positioning will be crucial and that’s why I have a good lead-out here.”
There are two heads in the peloton, with Groupama on the left and others on the right.
10km to go
Riders are fighting for position before the more technical roads in the finale.
Others are dropping back to avoid the chaos and high-speed risks.
This pic shows the speed and effort of the finale.
🏁 - 16 km | Etapa 4- Stage 4 | #LaVuelta21🚴 ¡Los equipos de los sprinters preparan la caza!🚴 @AlpecinFenix @GroupamaFDJ want a sprint today!👉https://t.co/zqaO4Bw62K pic.twitter.com/U42cPdS5ZMAugust 17, 2021
Deceuninck hit the front with Mauri Vansevenant leading the line.
Everyone is fighting to stay safe and reach the 3km point. The GC riders want to avoid any crashes and splits.
No one team can control the pace on the fast dive to the finish.
The final 1km then kicks up.
Teams are moving up on the left and right.
The GC riders make it to the 3km point.
Now its time for the sprint finish!
Dylan van Baarle again tries to protect Egan Bernal and Adam Yates.
Race leader Rein Taaramäe goes down.
He's lucky to crash inside the final 3km, so he will not lose time.
The peloton is lined out.
Groupama lead it out.
He left it late but came through the testing final 300m an then edged past Demare to win.
Rein Taaramäe rides in but judges will, or should, award him the same time as Jacobsen and so he should keep the race leader's red jersey.
That's is a special win for Jakobsen, coming just over a year after his terrible accident at the Tour de Pologne.
Demare hit out early in the sprint, with Magnus Cort of EF also up front. However Jakobsen was on Demare's wheel and came past him and edged clear with perfect timing and superb power.
This is the top ten.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck-QuickStep||3:43:07|
|2||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|3||Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|4||Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM|
|5||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|6||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
|7||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|8||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|9||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|10||Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
There were no changes in the overall standings despite race leader Rein Taaramae crashing in the final 3km.
The Estonian was able to finish the stage and will remain in the leader’s jersey as his fall came within the final 3km.
Michael Mathews finished fifth.
#LaVuelta21 It’s disappointment for @blingmatthews today 😣But we go again tomorrow 💪 pic.twitter.com/Qx7p4VmhviAugust 17, 2021
This is the GC.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||13:08:51|
|2||Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:25|
|3||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma||0:00:30|
|4||Lilian Calmejane (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:00:35|
|5||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:45|
|6||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Movistar Team||0:00:51|
|7||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:57|
|8||Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|9||Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers|
|10||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:01:09|
It's great to see Fabio Jakobsen's smile.
🎙️ @FabioJakobsen: "Es un sueño hecho realidad. Después de la caída ha sido un largo camino hasta aquí"❤️@FabioJakobsen: "It's a dream come true. It's been a long way back from my crash"#LaVuelta21 pic.twitter.com/M1HNRz0d6xAugust 17, 2021
Jakobsen was overjoyed to win a Grand Tour sprint again. He proved he is back to his best.
“It’s a dream come true. After the crash, I was a long way back, but I’m happy I’m here," he said.
"A lot of time and effort has gone into this by a lot of people, and it’s also their victory. I’m talking about all the doctors and surgeons and medical staff in Poland, through to my second family here with the team, and everything in between. It’s also their victory. It’s also my family’s victory, because they’re the reason I’m here."
Despite his crash, injuries and return to racing, Jakobsen is not scared to fight for a sprint win in a hectic finish.
“It’s just a hectic bunch. All the GC teams want to be in the front, and we understand that," he explained.
"3km from the finish we tried to take over. There was a climb and at the top I could find Bert [Van Lergberghe] and [Zdenek] Stybar. We went into the downhill in position 15-20, then Bert just took me to the front.
"I could start my sprint on the inside because there was a slight turn to the right. I found the wheel of Demare, who I think was the guy to beat today, and I just had a little bit more in the legs at the end today, so I was happy I could pass him.
“The team had faith from the beginning and I’m just happy I could pay them back in this way because this is also their victory.”
One of the nicest things of the post stage reaction is seeing Matteo Trentin, Arnaud Demare and Jasper Philipsen all congratulating Jakobsen on his win.
They share the same risks and fight for the win but are all genuinely happy for Jakobsen.
Jakobsen's win also gave him the green jersey. Another reason to celebrate.
Rein Taaramäe suffered a blow to his left knee and suffered road rash on his shin but he appeared happy to be on the podium in the leader's red jersey and will defend it during Wednesday's fifth stage.
This is the moment Jakobsen edged past Demare to win the stage.
This is the moment Jakobsen begins to celebrate his win.
To see more great photographs from the Vuelta stage, the full results and to read our full report, click the link below.
Rein Taaramäe crashed inside the final three kilometres but was given the same time as the stage winner and so kept the leader's red jersey.
"It was very very nervous," he explained.
"In one moment a guy on the right went like that (swerved) and took me down and I crashed. But I’m alive and I don’t have many injuries. I’ve got a bit of road rash but I feel okay."
Despite the crash the Estonian rider was happy to spend a day in the leader's jersey.
"It was an incredible day. My team rode a long time on the front of the peloton and well enjoyed it. It was beautiful," he said.
Taaramäe hopes to keep La Roja for at least two more stages.
“If tomorrow’s there’s no wind, it’s perhaps possible to keep the jersey again,” he said.
“After tomorrow the stage has one kilometre of climbing, so it’s all about position. I think I have the legs to hang on it depends on if I arrive at the climb in the right position.
“So I think there are two more stages where I can keep the jersey.”
Here's a shot of Jakobsen celebrating his emotional win.
This is the moment he speaks to his grandfather.
🥰¡Las felicitaciones no se han hecho esperar!📱Connection time! 💚🇳🇱 @FabioJakobsen #LaVuelta pic.twitter.com/YXSijL6mwNAugust 17, 2021
Click below for our full story on Rein Taaramäe's late crash and his first day as race leader.
Click this link to read our full stage report, see the full results and our growing photo gallery.
Wednesday's 184km fifth stage is from Tarancón to Albacete and is expected to be contested by the sprinters yet again.
As always, we'll have full live coverage from before the start and to after the finish, with all the race info and post-stage reaction, photos and analysis.
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