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Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) took his second win at Vuelta a San Juan Wednesday, winning the stage 4 sprint finish. The Colombian was well set up by his leadout men to hold off late challenges from Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Alvaro Hodeg (Deceunick-Quick-Step), who finished second and third respectively.
GC leader Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) finished safely in the bunch and so retains his overall lead.
“Molano and Richeze dropped me off at the line at just the right moment and I was able to capitalize on it,” said Gaviria, who also won stage 2. “I’m really happy with my condition and looking forward to the second half of the race.”
After a breakaway went away early in the race, UAE-Team Emirates, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-Quick-Step took control to set up the inevitable sprint finish in Valle Fertil. They left it late to catch Robin Carpenter (Rally) who was last man left from the break. The American was only swept up by the peloton with two kilometers to go.
As the race hit the final straight, UAE-Team Emirates took control, with Max Richeze and Sebastian Molano leading out Gaviria. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) shadowed Gaviria though faded away when the UAE-Team Emirates sprinter opened up his acceleration.
As Gaviria hit the front with 200 meters to go, Barbier and Hodeg came up fast to battle for the win, but left it too late, with Gaviria winning by a bike’s length.
“The team worked perfectly from start to finish,” said Gaviria. “They brought back the break and then set me up nicely for the sprint and I’m super happy with that.”
After a rest day Thursday, the GC battle is likely to be decided in the summit finish atop category 1 climb Alto Colorado on stage 5, Friday. Though not known for his climbing abilities, race-leader Evenepoel has every intention of defending his GC lead on the mountain.
“We defended the jersey [today] and we’ll try do it again Friday, on the Alto del Colorado, which is a long and pretty unusual climb,” said the 20-year-old after the race.
Stage 4 results:
- Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates): 4:08:03
- Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation): S.T
- Alvaro Hodeg (Deceunick-Quick-Step): S.T
GC after stage 4:
- Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 11:42:38
- Filippo Ganna (Italy): +0:00:33
- Oscar Sevilla (Team Medellin): +0:01:09