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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.

60km remaining from 165km

As we pick up the action, a group of 6 riders has a lead of 2:23 over the peloton. Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida) forged clear after 80 kilometres, after sizable earlier escape attempt was pegged back by the peloton during a high-speed opening half to the stage.


55km remaining from 165km

The Sky team of overall leader Mikel Landa is setting the pace at the head of the peloton. The general classification picture was as follows this morning:

1 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 13:39:35
2 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:01
3 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:05
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:09
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:11
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:13
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida 0:00:15
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ


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.


50km remaining from 165km

As is so often the case in this corner of the world in April, rain is falling steadily over the peloton. Mate is the highest-placed rider on GC, some 3:47 down on Landa, and Sky seem happy to allow the escapees linger off the front. The gap has yawned out to 2:54.


47km remaining from 165km

Landa, his yellow jersey hidden beneath a black jacket, sits in seventh wheel in the peloton, behind a delegation from his Sky team. 


45km remaining from 165km

The escapees are just 10 kilometres from the base of Puerto Garate. The climb is just over 3km in length and pitches up to 13%. The rain has abated somewhat, but conditions remain chilly. Riblon strips off his overshoes in preparation for the climbing ahead.


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


41km remaining from 165km

Our six leaders pedal along the coast road out of Zumaia, fearsome waves crashing against the seawalls beneath them. They will turn inland shortly to begin the haul up Puerto Garate.


37km remaining from 165km

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) accelerates as soon as the escapees hit the base of Puerto Garate. Riblon quickly brings him to heel.


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.


35km remaining from 165km

Wellens attacks for a third time towards the summit, but again he is brought to heel, this time by Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep).


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


34km remaining from 165km

Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis) leads Verona, Wellens and Riblon over the top of Puerto Garate. Vicioso and Petilli crest the summit some 18 seconds down. 


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.


31km remaining from 165km

Petilli and Vicioso have rejoined the head of the race on the descent of Puerto Garate. The front group once again contains six riders: Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Carlos Verona (Etixx-QuickStep), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Simone Petilli (Lampre-Merida).


27km remaining from 165km

As the race drops back to the seafront at Zarautz, there has been an injection of urgency to Sky's efforts at the head of the main peloton and the break's lead has fallen to 2:13.


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.


22km remaining from 165km

The six leaders' gap has dropped to 1:37 as they hit the climb of the Aia from its easier side. Riblon accelerates as soon as they begin climbing and stretches out the group. 


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


20km remaining from 165km

Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) attacks alone from the main peloton and opens a small gap.


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.


18km remaining from 165km

And then there were five... Petilli claws his way back up to the leaders. Verona launches a tentative attack but is brought to heel by Wellens. 


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.


17km remaining from 165km

Our five remaining leaders cross the summit of the Aia with a lead of 58 seconds over the peloton. They have a very short drop before they begin climbing again from the other side for the day's final ascent.


16km remaining from 165km

Vicioso is swept up by the peloton on the swoop down the Aia. The gap to the leaders remains locked at one minute.


15km remaining from 165km

The five leaders hit the base of the day's final climb. Immediately, Wellens launches an attack, but the Belgian hasn't been able to get any purchase on his accelerations so far today and this is no different. Mate holds his wheel, and Verona, Petilli and Riblon follow.


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.


13km remaining from 165km

As the gradient relaxes, Contador brings Quintana across to Henao, and in turn to Wellens and Verona.


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.


12km remaining from 165km

As the rain falls ever more steadily, this is an increasingly treacherous descent. Verona seems happy to take the necessary risks to hold his advantage of 6 seconds.


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...


8km remaining from 165km

Verona stretches his lead out to 13 seconds over the chasing Angel Luis Mate and Wellens, with Contador, Quintana and the main contenders a little further back. We have no images to confirm whether Landa has clawed his way back up to his fellow GC contenders.


6km remaining from 165km

Mate and Wellens hurtle down the desent in pursuit of Verona. The road flattens out and then kicks up once again before the finish.


5km remaining from 165km

Verona has 10 seconds in hand on Wellens and Mate, and 20 in hand on the Quintana-Contador group, which has swollen to 20 riders or so.


4km remaining from 165km

Thibaut Pinot and Fabio Aru have clipped off the front of the Contador-Quintana group on the descent. 


3km remaining from 165km

Wellens and Mate bridge up to Verona as the road begins to climb once again. Aru and Pinot are 15 seconds behind them. The group of favourites - now including, we can confirm, Mikel Landa - is a further 10 seconds back.


2km remaining from 165km

The leaders, and Aru and Pinot, are pegged back on this uncategorised climb. 25 riders at the head of the race.


2km remaining from 165km

Contador accelerates from the front group and stretches things out but he can't open a gap.


1km remaining from 165km

Samuel Sanchez (BMC) responds and then clips away alone at the crest of the climb and swoops down the other side.


1km remaining from 165km

Sanchez leads into the final kilometre.


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).



1 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 4:13:12
2 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida
3 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
4 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
7 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
9 Lawson Craddock (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling
10 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha


General classification:

1 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 17:52:48
2 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky 0:00:04
3 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Team Sky 0:00:07
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:08
5 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff Team 0:00:10
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:12
7 Rui Costa (Por) Lampre - Merida 0:00:14
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
9 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
10 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ


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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