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Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) kicked first to win the two-up sprint in Baza, taking stage honors and the GC lead at the Ruta del Sol.
The Dutchman beat Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan) by just inches after the two clipped away from the super-charged escape group that went clear in the opening hour of racing.
Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) won the sprint for third out of the tattered remnants of breakaway.
Poels now sits top of GC, while overnight race-leader Alessandro Covi (UAE Emirates) slides down the rankings after he and his teammates missed the split that went clear at the start of the stage. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) sits second overall, 10-seconds back.
— Team Bahrain Victorious (@BHRVictorious) February 19, 2022
Racing was red-hot straight out of the gate in another tough day through the Andalucian hills.
Covi’s Emirati crew and Bora-Hansgrohe both lost out when a series of attacks saw a superstar split detach itself over the first climb of a rollercoaster race route.
Astana and Ineos Grenadiers flooded into the 15 rider attack, along with Poels and his Bahrain-Victorious buddies.
The break blasted to a near three-minute lead over Covi and the Bora-Hansgrohe captains in the opening hours of the race. With riders as dangerous as Vansevenant, Lutsenko, Lopez, Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroen), Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers), Ivan Sosa (Movistar), and Bahrain-Victorious quartet Poels, Mikel Landa, Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig up the road, Bora-Hansgrohe and UAE Emirates took up the chase but made little headway.
The escape attacked each other a number of times in the back-half of the stage, with Lutsenko, O’Connor and Yates throwing some heavy haymakers at 20km to go that ushered in the final phase of racing.
Lutsenko’s repeat hammering eventually stuck when the Kazakh’s acceleration drew out Poels, and the two darted away from the bunch. The two worked together through to the final while the chasers couldn’t organize and instead attacked each other.
Poels led out the sprint as he looked to build the biggest time gap possible to give him the leader’s jersey at the end of the day.
The Dutchman kicked first at around 100m to go and Lutsenko looked on the brink of coming around, but Poels held strong to win by inches, coming away with the stage and the GC.
— Vuelta a Andalucía (@VCANDALUCIA) February 19, 2022
The Ruta wraps up with yet more mountains and a grinding summit finish Sunday – Poels will be in pole position.
Ruta del Sol stage 4
- Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious): 3:56:52
- Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Qazaqstan): S.T.
- Mauri Vansevenant (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): +0:18
2022 Ruta del Sol General Classification
- Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious): 17:06:49
- Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana-Qazaqstan): +0:10
- Cristian Rodriguez (TotalEnergies): +0:12