Vuelta a España – Stage 4 – Clarke from the break, crash for Valverde

Simon Clarke was one of the many stage hunters for Orica GreenEdge and he has already opened the account for the Aussie team winning the stage 4 mountain finish for his first professional win. Clarke outsprinted Tony Martin in the last 200m after a long hard, hot day in the breakaway.

Alejandro Valverde and his Movistar team looked content to allow the break to get away with a heavy side wind until the Movistar group went down simultaneously to Juan Antonio Flecha making a bit of a dig at the front. Liquigas and Movistar went down hard and Sky turned up the gas equally. The result was an all out hammer-feast as Sky split the field into numerous Echelons while Valverde and co. were chasing back. Once Sky started to tire and Movistar was reeling things in, BMC took over and blasted the front stretching things out again. By the climb, the break was shattered, the peloton had closed the 12 minute gap due to the action and Valverde was with only one teammate over one minute behind. The main favorites were explosive with Contador, Froome and Roche active while Katusha hammered in pursuit. Valverde, was alone climbing the majority of the 15km isolated until Intxausti was told to drop back and help.

In the end the favorites came over the line 1’04” behind Clarke, Anton lost touch with the big guns and was at 1’34” and Valverde did a gallant job of limiting his losses coming in at 1’59” and dropping to +34″ in the overall. Joaquim Rodriguez takes the leaders jersey.

Stage 4 Top Five
1. Simon Clarke (OGE)_____4h30’26”
2. Tony Martin (OPQ)______+2″
3. Assan Bazayev (AST)____+22″
4. Marcos Garcia (CJR)____+55″
5. Nicolas Roche (ALM)____+55″

Overall Classification after Stage 4
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT)_______13h18’45”
2. Chris Froome (SKY)____________+1″
3. Alberto Contador (STB)________+5″
4. Bauke Mollema (RAB)___________+9″
5. Robert Gesink (RAB)___________+9″
6. Rigoberto Uran (SKY)__________+11″
7. Daniel Moreno (KAT)___________+14″
8. Nicolas Roche (ALM)___________+25″
9. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)______+36″
10. Laurens Ten Dam (RAB)________+46″

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