The race had exploded with a number of attacks on the special category climb Coll de la Creueta with the Colombian Esteban Chaves attacking the peloton. Later it was Matej Mohoric and Alejandro Valverde, who joined Chaves in front of the race. Anway, after the descent, at the bottom of the final climb of the day La Molina the peloton came back together.
Once the slopes of the climb began to climbing up, new riders went away from the group of GC contenders: firstly Paris-Nice recent winner Marc Soler and later, Valverde, Pierre Latour, Nairo Quintana and Egan Arley Bernal attacked to get a good gap.
Finally, only four riders could stay clear in front to play the stage win: Alejandro Valverde took the stage ahead of Bernal with Nairo Quintana finishing third.
There was a big battle behind the leader’s shoulders: a few chasing group fought for a good position on the climb and at the finish line. Astana Team riders were active as well with Jesper Hansen and Jan Hirt trying to counterattack and to bridge to the leaders. Finally, Hansen finished 13th (+1.03) and Jan Hirt did 18th (+1.20).
- I think that our team did a pretty nice stage and in the final Jesper and Jan tried their best to finish as high as possible. Indeed, it was difficult to fight against Movistar, but we just did our own race. On the last climb we had four riders in the main group and later Hansen and Hirt did a few counterattacks following the best riders of this race. So, in this stage it was not bad at all, but tomorrow will be another tough day and I hope our riders could do something better, - explained Bruno Cenghialta.
Today’s result has allowed Hansen to move in general classification up to 11th position, +1.28 behind the new race leader Valverde. Jan Hirt is 18th (+1.45), while Andrey Zeits is 25th (+2.42).
Stage 5 of the Volta a Catalunya will provide a new opportunity for attacks: it will be a 212,9 km long stage from Llivia to Vielha Val d’Aran with three climbs on the distance.
Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto