Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) secured an impressive victory on stage four of the Vuelta a España in the heart of the Basque Country.
The Slovenian launched a stinging final kick on the climb to the line to secure the stage win and overall lead in the process.
Roglič timed his final sprint perfectly to outmanoeuvre Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and Enric Mas (Movistar) to take control of the race and to start his bid for a fourth Vuelta title in impressive fashion.
On a hot and challenging day in Spain riders visibly doused themselves with water in an attempt to keep cool. An early breakaway including Aleksey Lutsenko (Astana-Kazakhstan) was reeled in as riders began to look towards what promised to be a difficult finale in Laguardia. As the main field approached the summit of the final categorised climb of the Puerto de Herrera, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) launched an attack looking to split the group. However Roglič was able to comfortably answer the Frenchman’s move as they began the fast descent.
The riders were all back together as they reached the final ramp to the line and Movistar looked to launch Mas. Pedersen was the next to go although was unable to sustain his effort. Roglič outsprinted the Danish rider comfortably to cross the finish line in first place with a comfortable gap ahead of his rivals.
Pedersen took second place with Mas in third.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After a long transfer from the Netherlands, stage four between Vitoria-Gasteiz and Laguardia was the first on Spanish soil at the 2022 edition of the Vuelta a España. The riders faced 150 kilometres of challenging terrain in the heart of the Basque Country with several climbs on the menu including one to the finish. On arrival in Spain Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) was in the red jersey at the top of the overall standings.
180 riders began the stage and after a flurry of initial attacks, six men managed to form a breakaway. Aleksey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel-PremierTech), James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Jarrad Drizners (Lotto Soudal), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and Joan Bou (Euskaltel-Euskadi) soon managed to build up a lead of more than three minutes putting Lutsenko in the virtual race lead.
At 92 kilometres to go the leaders were onto the category two climb of the Puerto de Opakua and were led over the summit by Bou. Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe began to go to work on the front of the peloton and slowly began to eat into the breakaways advantage. The main field was strung out in one long line due to the intensity of the efforts to bring back the leading group.
As the race progressed over the hilly Basque terrain the pace being set in the breakaway proved to be too much for Bou, Drizzners and Okamika who were soon distanced from the leaders. Lutsenko, De Marchi and Shaw continued to push on towards the stage finale. Rémi Cavagna (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) was leading the chase in the peloton and thanks to the mammoth effort from the Frenchman, the race was soon all back together for the final phase of the day’s action. Sam Bennett took fifth place at the intermediate sprint in Lagrán.
Inside the final 30 kilometres and the pace was unrelenting. Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma were sharing the workload as the riders sped towards the category three Puerto de Herrera. At 23 kilometres left to race the peloton was beginning to split and Bennett was soon distanced as they reached the bottom of the climb. The 7.3 kilometre long climb was beginning to bite and race leader Affini was one of the biggest victims. After his exploits in the breakaway Lutsenko was soon jettisoned from the main field along with Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers).
With 14 kilometres to go Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) launched a stinging attack which was answered by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). The Slovenian was able to snatch three bonus seconds at the summit as they began the fast and furious descent. A group of other riders were able to follow Alaphilippe and Roglič including Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha-Vinyl). The Belgian rider was driving the pace looking to set up World Champion Alaphilippe on the final climb to the line.
At 4 kilometres to go the main group was all back together as they went through a tight switchback at the base of the final uncategorised climb into the town of Laguardia. Movistar were leading the charge looking to deliver Alejandro Valverde. The final ramp to the line began to bite and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) attacked although he was unable to sustain his effort. Roglič timed his final kick to the line perfectly to power past the Danish rider and land an impressive stage win along with the red jersey of the overall leader.
VUELTA A ESPAÑA 2022: STAGE FOUR RESULTS
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 3-31-05
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo,
3. Enric Mas (SPA) Movistar,
4. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Groupama-FDJ,
5. Pavel Sivakov (Fra) Ineos Grenadiers,
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citreon,
7. Ethan Hayter (Gbr) Ineos Grenadiers,
8. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl,
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe,
10. Jai Hindley (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe, all same time
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE FOUR
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, 11-50-59
2. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 13s
3. Ethan Hayter (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at 26s
4. Pavel Sivakov (Fra) Ineos Grenadiers,
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
6. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, at 27s
7. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 33s
8. Carlos Rodríguez (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
9. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 34s
10. Simon Yates (GBR) BikeExchange-Jayco, at 51s