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Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco 2016: Stage 4


 Live coverage of stage 4 of the Tour of the Basque Country, 165 kilometres from Lesaka to Orio.

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There are six categorised climbs on the agenda this afternoon, including three ascents, from different directions, of the Alto de Aia. The escapees went clear before the race's first time up the Aia. There are three climbs left on the menu in the finale - the Puerto Garate with 35km remaining, and then twin ascents of the Aia with 17km and 13km to go.

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A rather glum looking Joaquim Rodriguez sits towards the head of the peloton, surrounded by Katusha teammates. The Catalan currently lies 11th overall in what is his final tune-up ahead of the Ardennes Classics

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Riblon takes over on the front as the gradient bites to 13%. The Frenchman's steady effort stretches the group but they remain together for now.

Wellens kicks once again. This time Petilli is the man who closes the gap, and then Riblon takes over in front.

The Sky-led peloton hits the base of Puerto Garate trailing the break by 2:13.

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A fourth, steadier acceleration from Wellens looks to be too much for Vicioso and Petilli, who have been dropped from the leading group.

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Sky's men in black continue to tap out a steady tempo at the head of the peloton. Alberto Contador and a delegation from Tinkoff are maintaining a watching brief just behind them,

The reduced peloton reaches the summit of the Garate with a deficit of 2:31 to the leaders.

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A phalanx of FDJ riders move up on the uncategorised climb of the Alto de Zudagarai, looking to position Thibaut Pinot for the inevitable skirmishes in the finale.

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Contador's Tinkoff team hit the front at the base of the Aia in a bid to place Sky under pressure. 

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Meanwhile, at the head of the race, Riblon's forcing appears to have shed Vicioso from the front group.

Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) attacks from the peloton and bridges quickly across to Barguil. 

Wellens leads the break, with Mate, Riblon and Verona following. Petilli has been distanced.

Fabio Aru (Astana) accelerates in the main peloton, and his effort brings the head of the peloton, including Landa, back up to Barguil and Kreuziger. 

Sky take over again at the head of the reduced peloton. They are a minute down on the four leaders on the approach to the summit of the Aia.

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Landa still has three Sky riders for company at the head of the peloton. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) are among those lined up just behind him.

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As the main peloton passes the same point, Kreuziger attacks once again and opens a small gap.

When Kreuziger is pegged back, Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) has a go, but he can't break Sky's stranglehold on the front of the bunch.

Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep) attacks from the break near the summit, and only Wellens can claw his way back up to him.

Verona and Wellens hit the steepest part of the climb, where it pitches up above 25%. Wellens inches past Verona and opens a small gap.

Sergio Henao (Sky) forces his way clear of the peloton on the steepest section. Contador and Quintana follow, riding almost elbow to elbow. 

The bunch has been splintered to pieces on this 28% gradient, and race leader Mikel Landa has been distanced. The Basque struggles to keep his gear turning over.

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Verona clips away as the descent begins. The Spaniard is alone in front, with an elite group of Contador, Quintana, Henao and Wellens giving chase just behind.

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Wellens surges away from Quintana, Henao and Contador on the descent. As the cameraman swings around, we see the remnants of the main peloton scrambling back to within touching distance. Kelderman, Aru and Rui Costa are among them, but there is no sign of Landa...

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A group of 10 riders or so, including Contador and Rui Costa, stalks Sanchez as the road flattens out in the final kilometre...

Warren opens his sprint from distance, but Sanchez looks to have a winning gap...

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) wins stage 4 of the Tour of the Basque Country.

Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) wins the sprint for second ahead of Barguil, Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Sergio Henao (Sky).

They all finished in the same time as Sanchez, as did Contador, Quintana and Kelderman - but Landa rolled home 8 seconds down and has lost his overall lead.

They all finished in the same time as Sanchez, as did Contador, Quintana and Kelderman - but Landa rolled home 8 seconds down and has lost his overall lead.

Wilco Kelderman (LottoNL-Jumbo) moves into the overall lead, 4 seconds clear of Sergio Henao (Sky).


General classification:

Thanks for joining our live coverage on Cyclingnews today. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll also have all the news and reaction from another breathless day of racing in the Basque Country.

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