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  5. 2016 Vuelta a España, stage 4

2016 Vuelta a España

STAGE 4: Betanzos to San Andres de Teixido

Another finale in a spectacular setting. The Vuelta will finish its fourth stage in an unprecedented location: San Andres de Teixido. The stage will depart from Betanzos and consist of 161 kilometers. The peloton will have to overcome three mountain passes, two third category climbs and one second category climb. The finale is not particularly difficult, although it is unlikely that the entire peloton will make it to the end. There will likely be no notable differences among the favorites in the general classification.

vuelta stage 4

Lilian Calmejane rode to his first grand tour stage victory in the Vuelta's stage 4. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com
Lilian Calmejane rode to his first grand tour stage victory in the Vuelta’s stage 4. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The French cheered a second stage win in a row with Lilian Calmejane riding solo to victory in stage 4 of the Vuelta a España Tuesday. The young Direct Energie rider won his first grand tour stage, a follow-up to Alexandre Geniez’s victory Monday. He rode clear of a large breakaway on the category 2 finish climb, while behind, Darwin Atapuma of BMC Racing sprinted into the overall race lead, finishing second ahead of Cannondale – Drapac’s Ben King.

“It’s a very great feeling. To win a stage soon in the Vuelta, is just awesome,” said Calmejane. “Yesterday I was feeling good, and I’m trying to take the breakaway, but just seven guys in the breakaway. I thought that it wasn’t going to go to the finish, but Geniez won. Today it was just ‘the breakaway, the breakaway, the breakaway’ just to have no regrets.”

Stage 4, top 10

  • 1. Lilian CALMEJANE, DIRECT ENERGIE, in 4:05:19
  • 2. Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO, BMC RACING TEAM, at :15
  • 3. Benjamin KING, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM, at :15
  • 4. Andrey ZEITS, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at :19
  • 5. Nathan HAAS, TEAM DIMENSION DATA, at :23
  • 6. Enrico BATTAGLIN, TEAM LOTTO NL – JUMBO, at :24
  • 7. Pierre ROLLAND, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC PRO CYCLING TEAM, at :33
  • 8. Chad HAGA, TEAM GIANT – ALPECIN, at :37
  • 9. Jaime ROSON GARCIA, CAJA RURAL-SEGUROS RGA, at :40
  • 10. Cesare BENEDETTI, BORA-ARGON 18, at :42

Top-10 overall

  • 1. Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO, BMC RACING TEAM, in 13:23:10
  • 2. Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :29
  • 3. Christopher FROOME, TEAM SKY, at :33
  • 4. Jhoan Esteban CHAVES RUBIO, ORICA-BIKEEXCHANGE, at :39
  • 5. Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS, MOVISTAR TEAM, at :39
  • 6. Samuel SANCHEZ GONZALEZ, BMC RACING TEAM, at 1:08
  • 7. Ruben FERNANDEZ, MOVISTAR TEAM, at 1:11
  • 8. Leopold KONIG, TEAM SKY, at 1:13
  • 9. Peter KENNAUGH, TEAM SKY, at 1:15
  • 10. Gianluca BRAMBILLA, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at 1:23

Riders from the early breakaway of 21 riders began to launch attacks and counter-attacks with about 25 kilometers remaining. The move included three American riders: Giant – Alpecin’s Chad Haga, King, and Larry Warbasse of IAM Cycling.

For a moment, it looked like Ag2r La Mondiale’s Axel Domont had gone clear after the sprint at the base of the category 2 climb of Mirador Vixia de Herbeira. However, Domont was caught as the climb began, just shy of nine kilometers from the finish.

Calmejane launched the next attack. Cannondale – Drapac’s Pierre Rolland tried to chase down his fellow Frenchman alone. But the 23-year-old leader rode stubbornly and Rolland resigned himself to return to the dwindling chase of five men.

Into the final kilometer, Calmejane was clear, on his way to a career-first grand tour stage win.

BMC’s Darwin Atapuma had attacked the chase group, and was joined by King and Andrey Zeits (Astana). They finished in that order, second through fourth on the day.

“The last four km were steep so after we caught Pierre [Rolland]; I started an interval on my Garmin and aimed for the numbers I’ve been hitting in training,” said King. “That helped me stay on the limit and know when I could afford to surge. I knew my form coming into the Vuelta was decent relative to myself, but I’m happy and surprised how well it stacked up against climbers like Atapuma.”

Movistar brought the peloton into the final climb, riding tempo at the front for race leader Ruben Fernandez. Though the Spaniard lost the red jersey to Atapuma, the top GC riders finished as a group.

“This jersey is a dream I still haven’t taken in, but it’s been a dream come true,” BMC Racing’s Atapuma said. “No doubt Samu [Samuel Sanchez] is the team leader, but today they gave me freedom and we were alert to the breakaway and completed our goal.”

Wednesday’s stage 5 should not prove as decisive. The 170km ride from Viveiro to Lugo features just one category 3 climb, but the run to the finish should be lumpy and tough.