Stage 4: Lalin / a Estrada to Fisterra, 186.4km
On a parcours suited to the classics stars, Fleche Wallonne winner Dani Moreno romped home at Fisterra on the etapa fin del mundo – the stage to the end of the world. He was hotly pursued to the line by King of the Cobbles Fabian Cancellara, whose charge to the line inadvertently caused a split in the bunch which cost RadioShack teammate Chris Horner the red jersey he had earned only yesterday.
The early five-man break built a healthy advantage which yo-yoed around the six-minute mark before the peloton, led by RadioShack in defence of race leader Chris Horner’s red jersey, started to reel them back. The gap was down to three minutes as the leaders hit the Mirador de Ezaro – the finish of last year’s stage 12 won by Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) – with just over 30km left. Its short, steep ramps (only 1.8km but a leg-draining 13.1% average) saw most of the peloton slo-moing up it in granny gears.
The climb reduced the break to a trio and soon it was just Cofidis’ Nicolas Edet up front. With the gap down to under a minute, he was joined by five others. But everyone, including last man standing Edet, was back in the bunch with 15km to go.
By now the pack was down to 60-odd riders but it still included all the GC contenders as it headed for the last test of the day. Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) attacked inside the final kilometre only to provide Moreno with the perfect launch pad. The pack hesitated and it was all over as the Katusha rider accelerated away, finishing ahead of RadioShack’s fast-finishing Cancellara, who ran out of road. Teammate Horner lost his overall lead after being caught on the wrong side of a small split in the peloton at the finish. The six seconds he conceded was enough to see the red jersey pass back on to the shoulders of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), from whom he had claimed it yesterday.
VeloVoices rider of the day
Unsurprisingly it’s stage winner and Joaquim Rodriguez’s wing-man Dani Moreno, as the man from Madrid gave himself an early birthday present (he turns 32 on 5th September). With Sunday’s second place and today’s victory, he has put himself right back into contention, after a nightmarish opening team time trial. This marks his second victory of the season, and his second Vuelta stage, after a successful 2012 where he enjoyed seven wins. Moreno said afterwards:
I’m very happy with this victory. 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 them, especially Luca Paolini and Purito [Joaquim Rodríguez]. 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. It was a great victory in a very demanding stage.
Analysis & opinion
While a six-second split in the leading pack is not in itself significant, it saw the leader’s jersey head back to Vincenzo Nibali when he would probably have preferred it to remain with RadioShack who rode on the front of the peloton for much of the day to try to preserve their race lead. Astana may just be stuck with the jersey for a few days yet – not ideal.
It wasn’t just Horner who finished on the wrong side of the split, Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) did too and slipped out of the top ten. On the bright side, finishing with the leaders were a revitalised Edvald Boasson Hagen and Sergio Henao (both Sky), along with French youngster Warren Barguil (Argos-Shimano) riding his first grand tour.
Stage 4 result
1. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) 4:37:47
2. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) same time
3. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
4. Gianni Meersman (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) s/t
5. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) s/t
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 14:15:30
2. Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) +0:03
3. Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:08
4. Haimar Zubeldia (RadioShack-Leopard) +0:16
5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:21
6. Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShackLeopard) +0:26
7. Rigoberto Uran (Sky) +0:28
8. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) +0:31
9. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +0:42
10. Bartosz Huzarski (NetApp-Endura) +0:45
Points classification: Daniel Moreno (Katusha).
Mountains classification: Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Combination classification: Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff).
Team classification: RadioShack-Leopard.
Link: Official website