Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) wins stage 4 of the Vuelta a Andalucia 2018. The Belgian has overtaken the cobbles, the devilish slopes of Alcalà de los Gazules climb and his competitors, in this manner winning the rematch of Thursday’s stage. With a terrific attack along the last 400 meters Lotto-Soudal rider takes the success over Mikel Landa (Movistar), who began the decisive action and finished 5 seconds behind Wellens, and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). The (former) leader Wout Poels (Sky) drops 13 seconds on the finish line, so leaving his leader’s jersey to today’s winner Tim Wellens, who is now leading the overall classification over the Basque Mikel Landa.
As soon as the group leaves Sevilla’s Plaza de Espana, that is the seat of today starting, proceeds – unlike the last few days of racing – over several kilometers with a slow pace. The sun still shines on Southern Spain soil but actually today is chiller than yesterday and a little foggy. Plenty of roundabouts mark the first dozen kilometers of the course, due to these the peloton is in a long line. The, the race heads the motorway: Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Oscar Riesebeek (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) try to eke out an advantage, but the group doesn’t let the break to go.
The second the race abandons the motorway it becomes very nervous. Dozen of attackers attempt to open a gap over the peloton but the latter doesn’t allow anyone to escape due to its devilish pace in the head of the race. In the meantime, wind starts to rush, in this manner hardening the race. At the end of the first hour of racing the average speed is 49,6 kph, in fatcs proving how fast has the race been.
After 74 kilometers of racing a break finally opens a gap over the pack; thirteen riders are involved in this try. These are: Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Drapac), Julien Duval (Ag2r La Mondiale), Marco Minnaard (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Delio Fernandez (Delko-Provence Marseille-KTM), Lukasz Owsian (CCC-Sprandi), Coen Vermeltfoort (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Huub Duijn (veranda’s Willems-Crelan), Kyle Murphy (Rally Cycling), James Shaw (Lotto-Soudal), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Jesús Ezquerra (Burgos-BH). Their gap widens rapidly to 1’30”.
With TeamSky, Astana, Lotto-Soudal and EF-Drapac heading the pack the gap extends to 1’50” with 100 kilometers to go. The race balances start to change as soon as the leaders head the Puerto de las palomas climb: Wanty riders Marco Minnaard and Guillaume Martin gain ground over the former leaders and open an advantage of 40” over the chase. Firstly Hector Carretero (Movistar) and then Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Romain Sicard (Direct Energie) escape from the pack and jumped across the chase. Amador immediately counter-attacks and Vanmarcke and Carretero follow the wheels of Costa Rica’s rider.
Along the descent leading to Puerto del Boyar climb Vanmarcke, Amador and Carretero reel in the leaders. Soon Wanty-Groupe Gobert men drop and Carretero reproduce their operation. In this way only Sep Vanmarcke and Andrey Amador remain in the lead with just over 50 kilometers remaining sitting 2’35” ahead the peloton. Team Sky and Astana take to the front of the group with 40 kilometers to go and, until the last kilometer, they always head the peloton trying to jump across the gap which separates the bunch from the break.
At first seems that Amador and Vanmarcke struggles are enough to keep the group to a safe distance but in the last few kilometers the efforts of Wout Poels and Jakob Fuglsang’s teams beat the willpower of the break. As soon as the race hits the last climb the group reel in the breakaway and Movistar sets the pace in a 19% gradient part of the climb. Mikel Landa is the first who attacks with over 700 meters to go. The Basque opens a tiny gap over the head of the pack but Wellens bridges across the gap in the cobblestone surfaced section of the ascent and joins Landa in the lead. With just over 300 meters to go Wellens attacks again and this time Landa cannot tame the Belgian, who takes the spoils for the second time among this season.
Vuelta a Andalucia Stage 4 Classification
1 WELLENS Tim Lotto Soudal 4:36:23
2 LANDA Mikel Movistar Team 0:05
3 FUGLSANG Jakob Astana Pro Team 0:12
4 POELS Wout Team Sky 0:13
5 DE TIER Floris Team LottoNL-Jumbo ,,
6 SOLER Marc Movistar Team 0:17
7 KRUIJSWIJK Steven Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:20
8 SANCHEZ Luis Leon Astana Pro Team ,,
9 CLARKE Simon Team EF Education First-Drapac 0:21
10 PASQUALON Andrea Wanty – Groupe Gobert 0:24