Vuelta a Espana: John Degenkolb wins stage four as Michael Matthews stretches race lead
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 26/08/14 5:59pm
John Degenkolb sprinted to a comfortable victory on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana as Michael Matthews survived two testing climbs and searing temperatures to stretch his overall race lead.
Giant-Shimano’s Degenkolb delivered a devastating burst of pace on the flat finish in Cordoba to pick up the sixth Vuelta stage win of his career, beating Vicente Reynes into second by several bike lengths.
Matthews, of Orica-GreenEdge, crossed the line third to collect four bonus seconds and extend his advantage over Nairo Quintana at the top of the general classification to eight seconds, with fellow Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde now 15 seconds back in third.
Chris Froome finished 24th on the stage and although he has climbed two places to 15th overall, Matthews's bonuses mean the Team Sky rider is now 35 seconds off the red jersey.
Degenkolb said afterwards: ”I love the Vuelta a Espana. Yesterday was quite disappointing to not hang on – it was too hard and too explosive. Today I felt a little bit better. To handle the heat I need one or two days to adapt and today it worked out. It’s great to win another stage of the Vuelta.”
The stage took the riders on a 164.7km route from just outside Sevilla to Cordoba in temperatures nudging 40C.
A four-man breakaway moved clear early in the day, but they were all reeled back in on the first of two categorised climbs in the second half of the stage as the general classification teams set a hard pace and caused hordes of riders to be dropped.
Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) attacked out of the bunch on the ascent and briefly led, but he was caught at the foot of the final climb, the category-two Alto del Catorce por Ciento, as the likes Movistar, Team Sky and Tinkoff-Saxo once again set a fierce pace.
Lampre-Merida’s Winner Anacona attacked just short of the summit and was later joined in the lead by Englishman Simon Yates, Valverde and Europcar’s Romain Sicard, but the quartet were unable stay clear on the descent into Cordoba and were caught with 9km to go.
Degenkolb and Matthews had both battled valiantly to remain in the peloton over the climbs and were rewarded with the sprint finish they had been hoping for. Reynes was the first man to launch his bid for the line, but Degenkolb powered past him effortlessly and never looked in danger of being overhauled.
Stage four result
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 4:02:55
2 Vicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling, same time
3 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, st
4 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale, st
5 Dan Martin (Ire) Garmin-Sharp, st
6 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha, st
7 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
8 Valerio Conti (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing, st
10 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, st
19 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
20 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, st
24 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
30 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, st
1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, 13:30:44
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +8sec
3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, +15
4 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +19
5 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale, +21
6 Johan Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, same time
7 George Bennett (NZ) Cannondale, +24
8 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +27
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, st
15 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +35