Groves Victorious in Stage 4 of Vuelta a Espana 2023
Tuesday’s stage 4 of La Vuelta a España 2023 transported the Vuelta peloton down from the mountains on a 184.6-kilometer route from Andorra la Vella to Tarragona in the coastal part of northeastern Spain.
Most of the route terrain was downhill but race organizer Unipublic had added two category 3 climbs to the mix to make things more difficult for pure sprinters and to increase the chances of a breakaway lasting all the way to the finish line. The main sprinter favorites for the stage win were Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar Team), and Alberto Dainese (Team DSM-firmenich).
World Champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) proved the fastest man on the climb to the finish line in yesterday’s stage and took the general classification lead. He was proudly wearing the red jersey in today’s stage as leader of the race. While most other general classification favorites lost only a few seconds to Evenepoel in yesterday’s stage, Ineos-Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas was suffering during the stage and is now 01:11 minutes behind the race leader.
Today’s stage 4 started in Andorra la Vella and after just two kilometers of racing, what would prove to be today’s lasting breakaway group was established. Eduardo Sepulveda (Lotto-Dstny), Ander Okamika (Burgos BH), David Gonzalez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) were the optimists who chose to spend the day in the open wind.
With 60 kilometers left of the stage, the breakaway had a lead of just approximately one minute. The mood was relaxed in the peloton. The sprinters were waiting for the – expected – sprint finish, while the general classification favorites were recovering from yesterday’s battle in the mountains.
Evenepoel had crashed after the finish of yesterday’s stage and sustained injuries to his eyebrow, but the blood had been washed off and he had been checked for concussion symptoms before the start of today’s stage. He did appear more relaxed and less exalted than in the past few days.
The front group still had a small lead when the race reached the second and final category 2 climb of the day. The lead was down to approximately thirty seconds, so the chances of a breakaway rider taking a stage win were miniscule. Sepulveda, however, was chasing mountain classification points, so he fought on.
The breakaway trio was eventually caught by the chasing peloton and the sprinter teams started setting up their sprinters for the sprint finale across the finish line in Tarragona.
A crash appeared in the peloton with approximately four kilometers left of the stage. The crash took down multiple sprinter favorites for the stage win.
In the final kilometer EF Education-EasyPost’s sprinter Marijn van den Berg crashed in a corner.
Groves won the sprint across the finish line for his Alpecin-Deceuninck team. UAE Team Emirates’ Juan Sebastian Molano finished second, while Edward Theuns (Lidl-Trek) completed the stage podium.
Evenepoel remains general classification leader after today’s stage 4 of La Vuelta a España 2023. Enric Mas is in second place, five seconds behind the race leader. Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) is third, 15 seconds behind the leading Belgian. Tour de France Champion Jonas Vingegaard is fourth, 31 seconds behind the leader. Romain Bardet (Team DSM) is seventh (39 seconds behind). Vingegaard’s teammate Primoz Roglic is eighth with a 41 second deficit.
Wednesday’s stage 5 of La Vuelta a España 2023 will be a 186.2-kilometer ride from Morella to Burriana. The terrain is hilly with the route featuring a single category 2 climb and smaller hills. The route looks appealing for sprinters or a breakaway group. The general classification leaders will likely use the stage to relax their legs and recover as well as possible before the mountaintop finish in stage 6.
Stay tuned to Roadcycling.com for news from La Vuelta a Espana 2023.
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