Volta a Catalunya: Chris Froome loses 28 minutes as Tejay van Garderen wins stage four
Bart de Clerq moves into the overall race lead
Last Updated: 26/03/15 10:58pm
Chris Froome finished almost 28 minutes behind winner Tejay van Garderen on stage four of the Volta a Catalunya on Thursday.
The Briton was forced to miss the Italian stage race Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this month due to illness but declared himself fit for the Volta a Catalunya, which started on Monday.
He fell out of contention for overall victory on Wednesday's third stage, when he lost 19 seconds to his rivals, but he then suffered a catastrophic day on a mountainous fourth stage, finishing 27min 49sec down in 131st.
With Froome out of the picture, Van Garderen (BMC Racing) attacked from a vastly reduced peloton with around 3.5km remaining to the summit finish at La Molina and hung on to beat the rapidly closing Richie Porte (Team Sky) into second by three seconds and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) into third by eight seconds.
Van Garderen started the day more than 18 minutes down overall after crashing on stage three, so it looked like Porte would move to the top of the general classification given that previous leader Pierre Rolland (Europcar) and second-placed Maciej Paterski (CCC Polsat Polkowice) had both been dropped earlier in the day.
However, Bart de Clerq (Lotto Soudal), who started the stage third, battled valiantly to cross the line 44 seconds down on Porte, which was enough to give him a 21-second lead over the Australian overall going into Friday’s fifth stage.
Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is now third, 26 seconds down on De Clerq, while Contador is two seconds further back in fifth.
Van Garderen said: "I was really motivated for today. I changed the tactic from trying to go for the classification and put everything into the stage. That was all I had in my mind today."
Although Porte missed out on the race lead, he can take solace from getting the better of Contador, who he is set to go head-to-head with at May’s Giro d’Italia.
After Van Garderen had attacked, Contador made his own move with around 2.3km remaining and initially distanced Porte. However, with the help of team-mate Vasil Kiryienka, Porte slowly caught back up with Contador and then dropped the Spaniard with an attack of his own inside the final 500m.
Stage four result
1 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing, 5:00:36
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +3secs
3 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, +8
4 Dan Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin, same time
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
6 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing, +11
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +15
8 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +19
9 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky, +21
10 Rafael Valls (Esp) Lampre-Merida, st
131 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +27:49
1 Bart de Clerq (Bel) Lotto Soudal, 18:32:02
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +21secs
3 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +26
4 Dan Martin (Irl) Cannondale-Garmin, +27
5 Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff-Saxo, +28
6 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx – Quick-Step, +45
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +48
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, +51
9 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, +52
10 Darwin Atapuma (Col) BMC Racing, +54
67 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, +28:32