Moreno Wins Stage 4 of Vuelta; Nibali Retakes Red Jersey
A number of abortive sallies occurred before Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Danilo Wyss (BMC), Jussi Veikkanen (Francaise des Jeux), and Dennis Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) got clear at nine km. Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp) joined the quartet three km later, and the quintet led the field by 7:25 at 85 km.
RadioShack-Leopard refused to expend energy chasing, so Omega Pharma-Quick Step took responsibility. The gap narrowed as the peloton reached the hilly middle of the course and teams started to battle for position at the front. With 30 km left, the Category 3 Mirador de Ezaro awaited the bunch.
With 36 km remaining, the fugitives reached the base of the climb. At this point, they led the peloton by less than a minute. Rasmussen and Veikkanen were dropped on the lower slopes, and Edet dropped his remaining companions further up the climb. He was 0:30 ahead of the peloton, some of whose members had to dismount.
Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked from the bunch and caught Edet with 28 km to go. Jose Herrada (Movistar), Luis Leon Sanchez (Belkin), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), and Dominik Nerz (BMC) joined the pair. RadioShack-Leopard chased, however, and all of the escapees except for Edet sat up with 17 km remaining. The peloton reeled in Edet two km later.
RadioShack-Leopard drove the peloton. Eventually, Cannondale and Argos-Shimano joined the Luxembourger squad. With 11 km left, Orica-GreenEdge took command, but Cannondale seized control with about five km remaining. Astana and Sky moved up to the front as well.
Astana and Katusha led the field up the climb to the finish. Astana led for the final 1.5 km. Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked, but Herrada set out after the Spaniard, with Moreno following. With 500 m left, Moreno attacked and passed Flecha. Cancellara led the pursuit, which narrowed the gap between the bunch and the Katusha rider. Moreno held on for the win, however.
Moreno is a lieutenant for team captain Joaquin Rodriguez, but Rodriguez gives him opportunities to win and puts the team at Moreno’s disposal. “I'm very happy for this victory ,” the Katusha man said. “Yesterday, I said to my teammates that I would have liked to try to win today because I liked this stage a lot. I have to thank all of them, especially Luca Paolini who helped me a lot in the final part in order to put me in the best position for attacking, and Purito [Joaquin Rodriguez]. We know each other very well; we know which stages are more suitable to the other. He's the leader, but he usually leaves me some chances for myself. I have to be focused and take advantage of them. I think the race is still very long, and maybe I'll have some more chances. It was a great victory in a very demanding stage. Mirador de Ezaro was really tough and was expected to make the difference, but maybe nobody wanted to try to make a huge selection because it was still a long way to the finish line.”
The surge on the final climb split the field. Horner finished five places behind Nibali, and the race jury ruled that the Italian had gained 0:06 on the American and had taken the red jersey. RadioShack-Leopard appealed the ruling, but the race jury upheld its decision.
In the overall, Nibali leads Horner by 0:03 and Nicolas Roche (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) by 0:08. Stage 5 could change this state of affairs. Nibali is not eager to defend the red jersey, and Astana will probably let a breakaway go up the road. The 174.3-km ride from Sober to Lago de Sanabria will have a hilly parcours that will feature two Category 3 climbs and an uphill finish. Who will win? Will the red jersey change backs? For the answers to these and other questions, check in at www.roadcycling.com!