Chaves remains cool under pressure on stage four of La Vuelta a Espana

Tue 23 Aug 2016

Esteban Chaves and ORICA-BikeExchange rode a calm and collected race on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana today with Chaves finishing alongside the other favourites and remaining in fourth on the general classification.

Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) took the stage victory with a winning move from the breakaway that saw Darwin Atapuma (BMC) move into the red leader's jersey.

“The team were fantastic again today,” said Chaves. “The big guys on the flat and then the climbers on the ascents, our team is really strong and we rode very well to stay in a good position in the race.”

“Movistar were pulling pretty hard and we matched everything on the final climb. Simon Yates stayed with me for a long way up the climb and it's these small details that are really important and I am very grateful for.”

Sport director Neil Stephens was satisfied with how the day unfolded.

“We definitely ticked all the boxes today,” said Stephens. “Once the breakaway went clear it allowed us to sit back a little and try to conserve as much energy as possible for the finale.”

“The team did a great job and rode with intelligence throughout. When we called upon the guys to get on the front and reduce the deficit a bit with 15kilometres to go they were ready and brought the bunch onto the climb.

“As far as we’re concerned the situation is pretty similar to yesterday, most of the big favourites finished together and we are happy with our position.

“Tomorrow could be an interesting stage due to the long climb in the middle, it could easily be a day for the breakaway again.”

How it happened:

A cooler day in Galicia welcomed the riders to the start in the medieval coastal town of Betanzos.

The first hour of racing saw the field stay together despite more than a few breakaway attempts trying to go clear. Eventually 20 riders broke free.

The group began to work well together and after 90kilometres of racing had a lead of four minutes over the peloton.

Swelling to over five minutes with 55kilometres to go, the advantage of the large group of escapees seemed to be to the liking of the peloton. With no overall contenders within the group they continued to work well together at the end of a fairly long leash.

Movistar were controlling the tempo of the peloton into the final 40kilometres with the 20 leaders at four minutes 40seconds and the tough category two climb to the finish looming on the horizon.

With 30kilometres left to race and the peloton back out at five minutes, the breakaway group began to tentatively attack each other as the final climb approached.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) was doing most of the attacking in the front group with Darwin Atapuma (BMC) looking on attentively.

ORICA-BikeExchange took up the reins at the front of the peloton as the breakaway hit the lower ramps of the 11.2kilometre climb to the finish with the gap now at four minutes 20seconds.

Axel Domont (AG2R-La-Mondiale) attacked from the lead group and split the numbers with a reduced selection going away up the climb.

Calmejane and Piere Rolland (Cannondale Drapac) escaped with seven kilometres to go before Calmejane developed an advantage over his compatriot and continued to ride strongly towards the finish.

Atapauma caught and then dropped Rolland as he tried to chase down Calmejane to no avail. Calmejane won the stage with Atapuma second and Ben King (Cannondale Drapac) in third.

Chaves crossed the line at the front of the favourites group in 21st place on the stage.

Tomorrow’s stage five covers 171.3kilometres from Viviero to Lugo and cuts inland from the Atlantic coast to some flatter terrain. The day's only climb is the category three Puerto de Avare which comes before the relatively flat run to the finish.

Vuelta a Espana stage four results:

1. Lilian Calmejane (Direct-Energie) 04:05:19
2. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) 00:00:15
3. Ben King (Cannondale-Drapac) ST
21. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:02:05  

 General classification after stage four:

1. Darwin Atapuma (BMC) 13:23:10
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:29
3. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 00:00:33
4. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:39