The first mountain stage came quickly in this year’s Vuelta and it was the long, grinding Sierra Nevada in Spain’s southern Andalucia region. Sierra Nevada is a long, varied climb with a downhill section midpoint and some steep ramps up to about 11%. All the riders will have respected it, but few would have feared it. All riders rode it, except Mark Cavendish who surprisingly withdrew from the race earlier in the day.
A break of six riders (Guillieme Bonnifond, Matthew Busche, and Thomas Rohregger, amongst 3 others) seized the attention of the day until the Sierra climb, when Rabobank took up the pace setting and tore the peloton into shreds. Pablo Lastras dropped off the back and was losing time with 18km to go, and thus, the loss of the red jersey loomed.
The pace on Sierra was kept quite high through 10km remaining and Igor Anton, one of the pre-race favorites, started to really struggle to keep pace, as the peloton closed within 1:00 of the four remaining riders in the break. Chris Anker Sorenson launched a massive dig and Vincenzo Nibali began his attacks with 5km to go. Nibali was reeled in by the group while Daniel Moreno (Katusha) bridged across to CAS as Bonnefond, the last of the escapees, was caught. Moreno and Sorenson managed to stay away with 300m remaining and Daniel Moreno attacked from behind and surged past for a fairly easy win.
Sylvain Chavanel rode amazingly considering his effort yesterday and hung close enough with the big names to take the Red jersey for the races fourth leader in four stages. Igor Anton really suffered on today’s stage and looks to be the big loser as he finished 1’38” behind Moreno and 1’27” down on the group of the main favorites.
Stage 4 Top Five
1. Daniel Moreno (Katusha)___________4h51’53”
2. Chris Anker Sorenson (Saxo Bank)___+3″
3. Dan Martin (Garmin)_______________+11″
4. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre)
Full stage standings: La Vuelta
Overall Classification after Stage 4
1. Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep)____13h19’09”
2. Daniel Moreno (Katusha)_________+43″
3. Jacob Fuglsang (Leopard)________+49″
4. Maxime Monfort (Leopard)________+49″
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)_________+53″
Full GC standings: La Vuelta