Pais Vasco: Rodriguez wins stage 4 in Arrate

Katusha's Joaquím Rodríguez took his second consecutive win on stage 4 at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco on Thursday. The Spaniard was a part of a select group of climbers that formed on the steep slopes of the late-race climb over the Usartza, and following a fast two-kilometre descent into Arrate, he out-sprinted his rivals at the finish. Bauke Mollema (Trek Factory Racing) was second in the sprint and Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) was third.

"Finally I did it. I knew I had to go fast in the last two corners. I had to make up something after Valverde beat me in 2012 here after a photo finish. I didn't dare to lift my hands too early. Arrate is a classic finish and it is an honor to win here," Rodriguez said. 

Team Sky’s Sergio Henao, who moved into the overall leader’s jersey after placing second to Rodriguez in the previous day’s stage 3 three-up sprint, narrowly held onto the yellow jersey after placing fifth in Arrate. He heads into the fifth stage on Friday as the leader but with the same time as both runner-up Rodriquez and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in third.

How it happened

The fourth stage of Pais Vasco brought the riders on a 162.2km race from Zumarraga to Arrate. It was another challenging day with climbs over the Asentzio (cat 2), Karabieta (cat 2), Izua (cat 2), Gaintzagagaina (cat 3), Santa Eufemia (cat 3), Pinares (cat 3) and the finale Usartza (cat 1), which peaked with two kilometres to the finish line.

A large break set off at the start of the stage but it broke apart after the first 40km. Riders in that original move were Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin), Peio Bilbao (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Rohan Dennis and Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Michal Golas (Etixx-QuickStep), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Bob Jungels and Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing), Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Nicki Sorensen (Tinkoff-Saxo), Yoann Bragot and Romain Hardy (Cofidis).

Team Sky set the pace for the day for their overall leader Henao, and although they didn’t let the dangerous move get too far, four riders were able to skirt off the front of it and gain a couple of minutes.

Martin, who has been a highly active player in the week’s racing, drove the four-man move that also included Danielson, Hardy and Bilbao. That breakaway also broke apart with Martin and Danielson pushing on alone, leaving Bilbao and Hardy to be swept up by the field.

With Martin only one minute down on the general classification, the field kept them on a tight leash over the day’s ascents. By the time they reached the Pinares with 35km to go, the gap had begun to drop to 1:30.

Movistar assumed some of the chase responsibilities for their rider Quintana, who was in third place overall but at the same time as Henao and Rodriguez. They rolled to the front and offered to help Team Sky with the pace setting.

Further back in the field, Rodriguez lost one of his teammates, Angel Vicioso, who had an unfortunate crash while pacing himself back up to the field in the caravan.

Bad luck continued for Katusha with 24km to go as Rodriguez had to take a bike change before slowly chasing his way back to the main field ahead of the final climb.

"The break had many minutes for most of the day," Rodriguez said. "Movistar and Sky took the race in hand and the speeds were so fast... The crash of Vicioso changed our team tactics a bit. I had to change bikes and then come back so that cost me some energy, but fortunately the last climb suited me very well." 

With Rodriguez off the back, Lampre-Merdia moved their riders to the front to set a quick pace for their man Rui Costa. Trek Factory Racing also joined the chase for Mollema and Julian Arredondo and Orica-GreenEdge for Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves.

The breakaway lost its momentum when Danielson dropped his chain on the descent off of the Pinares and had to fight to get back on to Martin’s wheel. However, the pair only had a 15-second margin at that point, and it was only going to drop further as the race approached the Usartza with 13km to go.

The field was all back together ahead of the day’s final cat 1 climb, which averaged 10.7 per cent and some sections as steep as 20 per cent near the top.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Ion Izagirre (Movistar) made their move and distanced the field, allowing their respective teammates Rodriguez and Quintana to sit back while the others chased.

Zakarin distanced himself from Izagirre and tried to go alone but his efforts weren’t strong enough to stop Henao from jumping across the gap him with 3.3km to go.

Movistar and Astana riders led the pace of the main chase group up the climb with Katusha riders sitting on their wheel. They managed to bring the gap to Henao and Zakarin down to three seconds as the race approached the crest of the climb.

Izagirre made another attack from the small main group, which was down to roughly 12 riders. The move was short-lived but it caused the overall pace to quicken and they caught Henao and Zakarin on the descent with just 1.9km to go.

Katusha immediately took control of the group on the twisty descent but Henao fought hard to stay at the front, dragging the field downhill and into the flatter section at the bottom with 500 metres to go. 

"When Henao went, I thought Quintana would go too, but he didn’t. Then I spoke with Simon [Spilak] and told him I needed his help. Good positioning was more important than speed at that moment," Rodriguez said.

And in almost the exact same sequence as the day before, Rodriguez jumped around Henao through the final corners and took the win.

The fifth stage of Pais Vasco on Friday will include a 155.5km race from Eibar to Aia. It is the last hilly road race stage before the finale 18.3km time trial in Aia on Saturday. "Tomorrow also suits me very well. We cross the Aia pass three times. I like this stage the most of all of them. If I can recover from these past two days, we’ll see how I can do for the GC," Rodriguez said.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha4:05:10
2Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
3Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge
4Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team
5Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky
6Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
8Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha
9Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
10Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr
11Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
12Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha
13Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:23
14Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team
15Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
16Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
17Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha0:00:47
18Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre-Merida
19Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team
20Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team
21Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:08
22Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:01:22
23Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
24David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky0:01:56
25Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge
26Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:02:27
27Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team
28Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:02:34
29Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:03:42
30Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal
31Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step
32Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
33Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
34Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
35Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:04:19
36Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team0:04:58
37Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge0:06:17
38Yohan Bagot (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:06:19
39Pawel Poljanski (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo0:06:28
40Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:06:54
41Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky0:07:29
42Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenEdge0:07:53
43Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
44Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
45Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
46Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica GreenEdge
48Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
49Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step
50Michal Golas (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
51Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal
52Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa) Movistar Team
53Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
54Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:09:03
55Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:09:14
56Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
57Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
58Jose Rodolfo Serpa (Col) Lampre-Merida
59Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:10:55
60Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
61Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Sky
62Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha
63David De La Cruz (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step0:11:14
64Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky0:12:19
65Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team0:12:22
66Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
67Janier Acevedo (Col) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
68Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Tinkoff-Saxo0:15:31
69José Herrada (Spa) Movistar Team0:18:34
70Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Lampre-Merida
71David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:19:15
72Fabricio Ferrari Barcelo (Uru) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
73Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
74Igor Anton (Spa) Movistar Team
75Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team
76Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team
77Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
78Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
79Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team
80Antonio Molina (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:20:52
81Mario Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida
82Omar Fraile (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
83Carlos Betancur (Col) AG2R La Mondiale
84Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
85Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida
86Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
87Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
88Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:21:46
89Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida
90Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
91Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
92Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
93Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
94Clement Chevrier (Fra) IAM Cycling
95Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin
96Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling
97Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.fr
98Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
99Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
100Lawrence Warbasse (USA) IAM Cycling
101Anthony Turgis (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
102Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing
103Bruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo
104Caleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin
105Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling
106Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Team Sky
107Kevin De Weert (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
108Evgeny Petrov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
109Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
110Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
111Lawson Craddock (USA) Team Giant-Alpecin
112Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
113Nathan Brown (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
114Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr
115Laurent Didier (Lux) Trek Factory Racing
116Julien Berard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
117Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
118Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha
119Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
120Francis Mourey (Fra) FDJ.fr
121Eduard Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-Saxo
122Hugh Carthy (GBr) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
123Rein Taaramae (Est) Astana Pro Team
124Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
125Danny Pate (USA) Team Sky
126George Bennett (NZl) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
127Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step
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Points
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha25pts
2Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek Factory Racing20
3Simon Yates (GBr) Orica GreenEdge16
4Ion Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team14
5Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky12
6Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana Pro Team10
7Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team9
8Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Team Katusha8
9Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida7
10Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr6
11Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team5
12Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha4
13Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step3
14Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team2
15Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale1
16Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida-5
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Sprint 1 - Etxebarria, 107,7 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team3pts
2Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step2
3Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA1
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Sprint 2 - Markina-Xemein, 135,0 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team3pts
2Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step2
3Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team1
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Sprint 3 - Elgoibar, 149,2 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step3pts
2Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team2
3Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar Team1
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Mountain 1 - Alto de Asentzio, 37,0 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Benat Intxausti (Spa) Movistar Team6pts
2Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team4
3Romain Hardy (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits2
4Jerome Coppel (Fra) IAM Cycling1
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Mountain 2 - Alto de Karabieta, 65,0 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA6pts
2Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step4
3Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team2
4David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky1
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Mountain 3 - Alto de Ixua, 98,0 km
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step10pts
2Thomas Danielson (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team8
3Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA6
4Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team4
5Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky2
6David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky1
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Mountain 4 - Alto Gontzagaigana, 118,0 km