VUELTA: Stage 4 (Baza-Sierra Nevada)

The first big mountain stage sees Mark Cavendish abandon and Daniel Moreno of Katusha win on top of Sierra Nevada.  Sylvain Chavanel is the new race leader.


The Tour of Spain went into the mountains today with two big climbs, the final one reserved for the race finish at Sierra Nevada. The stage saw a group of riders escape early on and while the chase took a while to get going, once it did, things in the peloton started to happen. Like a split which saw, reportedly, Bradley Wiggins and one of the favourites for the jersey on the stage, Chavanel on the wrong side of it.

Wiggins and Chavanel  though got back and the break arrived at the bottom of Sierra Nevada, a long climb which average’s 5per cent with a three minute plus lead which was never going to be enough to see them stay away to the finish as Rabobank piled on the pressure in the peloton which was lined out.

The seven included Thomas Rohregger (Leopard Trek), Koen de Kort (Skil-Shimano), Guillaume Bonnafond (AG2R-La Mondiale), Matthew Busche (RadioShack), Jose Vicente Toribio (Andalucia Caja Granada), Yoann Bagot (Cofidis) and Eduard Vorganov (Katusha).

As the peloton hit the climb, it didn’t take long for the bunch to start to explode and it was soon halved in size as the gradient, speed and heat took its toll on the non-climbers. At the front, it was all Rabaobank while the Sky riders left in the peloton were sitting in the wheels before they started to move up.

This climb with it’s wide wide roads, little crowd (at the bottom) and clear skies allowing the sun to beat down hard on the riders, was a tough one. While the break lost riders, being reduced to four on the early stages of the climb, team Sky continued to sit in the wheels. As Liquigas hit the front, Wiggins was third wheel keeping an eye on them while at the back, one of the favourites, Anton lost contact.

Race favourite Nibali attacked with still 7k to go and was chased by Rabobank and it soon came back together. Former British Junior RR champion Dan Martin then had a go. Astana then made their move to join Saxobank’s Sorenson and once the gap had been bridged, they let the Saxobank rider to do all the work. Sorenson managed to get rid of the Astana rider but was soon joined by Katusha’s Daniel Moreno.

Like the Astana rider though, Daniel Moreno was leaving it all to the Saxobank rider until Sorenson managed to get him to the front with 2k to go. Sorenson then attacked Moreno while in the peloton, Chris Froome hit the front with Wiggins on his wheel. The Sky rider, who hasn’t yet been offered a contact and was interviewed by VeloUK the night before the stage, was proving yet again as an ally for Wiggins, he is invaluable in the mountains.

Back at the front, Moreno came back to Sorenson and let the Saxobank rider lead him out over the closing 1,000 metres with Moreno winning the stage while Martin lead the peloton across the line seconds later.

The other news of the day was that Mark Cavendish pulled out after being dropped on his own early, saying he had no power. On Twitter later, he said “Gutted. Felt bad from the start of Vuelta. Not bad form, just drained. I’ll have tests & find out how @mattgoss1986 is. Then maybe more info.”

Rider Reactions: Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), “It was another good team performance today and Chris Froome rode his heart out for me again at the end there. He’s looking really good at the moment and things are going well again. I was pretty happy with how I coped with the heat and am pleased to have finished where I did. Obviously, it’s still early doors in terms of the race though and we’re just going to continue to take things day by day.”

Chris Froome, in a text to VeloUK, says “That was getting pretty rough out there with the heat being the main obstacle!”

Steven de Jongh, Team Sky Sports Director: “It went very well today and I’m really happy. Brad and Chris were both to the fore again and the whole team were very active all day to combat the heat, fetching bottles and fuelling up. The temperature went up from 28 degrees to between 35 and 36 this afternoon so that’s a real challenge for everyone. It’s going to be an interesting day tomorrow. It’s pretty tough and it will be hot again.”

“We’ve got a late climb which comes just 8km from the finish and then there’s a real ramp right up to the line so there are going to be splits once more.”

Quickstep rider in the leader’s Jersey

New race leader, Sylvain Chavanel was 38th on the stage ) and finished a little behind the first group, but still took over the lead in the overall rankings. “I came to this Vuelta highly motivated”, explained an exhausted but radiant Chavanel after the arrival. “I think I proved that both today and yesterday. Today along the climb to Sierra Nevada I saw that Lastras didn’t have a great pedal push. I knew that if I could make it past the first part of the climb I could be the leader.”

“I counted the kilometres to go to the top, I couldn’t let a chance like that get away. For me it’s a great feeling. In 2008 I’d already worn this jersey, but this year after the bad luck I had in the Tour it has a different meaning. I’m going to try to defend it and honour it, like I always have. Tomorrow there are going to be some difficult passages, but I’m going to give it my all. I had a tough Tour de France but luckily I have the capacity to turn the page quickly. I know I can have a good end of the season and even make it to the World Championships in great shape. First though, there’s the Vuelta and a jersey to honour in the best way possible.”

1.   Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team     4:51:53
2.   Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard     @3 secs
3 .  Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo @11 secs

18. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling @st
28. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling @st

1. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team     13:19:09
2. Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team     0:00:43
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek     0:00:49
4. Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale     0:00:53
6. Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad     0:00:58
7. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana     0:00:59
8. Sergio Pardilla Belllón (Spa) Movistar Team     0:01:03
9. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team
10. Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team     0:01:04
11. Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo     0:01:06

20. Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling     0:01:31
21. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 1.31

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