Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 4 Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Vuelta a España 2014 – Stage 4 Preview

By David Hunter

Stage 3 Recap

We had our morning break of 5: Mas, Fumeaux, Cousin, JJ Van Rensburg and Wyss. Mas, from Caja Rural, took the KOM points and is now the new leader.

Both Sagan and Cancellara were noted at the back of the bunch, over the last two climbs. Cancellara, had a huge amount of salt, stuck to his top and didn’t look very comfortable.

As the peloton rolled along a big highway, Castroviejo and Malori crashed when trying to catch their lunch! Neither rider looked amused. In the frantic run for home: Giant, OPQS and Katusha were all fighting for control of the peloton. This was after Orica did all the work throughout the stage. With Katusha on the front, Caruso launched a big attack, inside the final kilometre. Unfortunately from him, Dan Martin, chased him down. The Irishman caught him but Bling Matthews, was ready to pounce. He took the stage win and the overall lead. Dan Martin was an excellent second, with Joaquim Rodriguez in third place. Matthews responding to the pressure of having his team work all day.

Stage 4 Mairena del Alcor – Cordoba 164.7km

ve4The riders, again, travel east across the country. The route is fairly boring, but this all changes towards the end of the stage!


We have two climbs on the day’s menu:-

Alto de San Jeronimo 4.6km at 4.6%

Alto del Catorce por Ciento 8km at 4.7%. Despite a tame sounding, average gradient, this climb is tough.

ve4bThis will be a very good test for the sprinters, as some teams will want to take it at pace. The climb has ramps of 12%, 14% and 16%.

This is a big ring climb, that the peloton will do at pace. Even the feared ramps of double digit gradients, don’t last very long. It will be possible to eliminate some sprinters, but it will be hard.

ve4cThe end of the stage is nice and easy, with a very long finishing straight. There is a small bend, with 500 metres to go, but it will be taken at high speed.

ve4dThe slight rise with 800 metres to go, is nothing to worry about. The peloton will be going at high speed, so the little bump will hardly slow them down.

Nacer Bouhanni surprised many with an eighth place finish today. He certainly is in top form, but will find the climb on the very edge of his capabilities. A rider dropped will struggle to make up more than thirty seconds, on the descent. Most dropped riders won’t return to the bunch. Can Bouhanni hold on?

John Degenkolb can cope with short, steep climbs. He doesn’t have a great record on longer climbs, he might find this too long.

Moreno Hofland has been working hard on his climbing skills and won two stages in Utah, recently. It wasn’t his day today, but this stage suits him better. He has beaten Bouhanni and Degenkolb, in a sprint this season, way back in Paris-Nice.

Oscar Gatto, is another sprinter who would benefit from the difficult climb. He’s sprinting as quick as ever and I expect Cannondale to go into elimination mode, on the climb. Sagan, is clearly not here to win!

Lloyd Mondory is another rider in form. A stage win in Burgos, 13th in stage 1 and 7th in stage 2. He’s another that needs to sprint from a smaller bunch, if he’s to podium.

I don’t think we’ll see all the sprinters get dropped on the climb, so we shouldn’t see the GC boys sprinting.

A smaller bunch, does increase the chances of a late a break. The problem, is the long, straight roads on the way into town. This looks like being a smaller bunch sprint. The descent is very fast and some riders will try to attack, but the 10km of flat road towards the finishing line, makes it very hard to stay away. Although, if the peloton is small, it will be hard to organise any type of chase.

Prediction time…

For Matthews to win, he needs to drop Bouhanni and Degenkolb. This could happen. If Bouhanni hangs tough, he’s the fastest sprinter here. Could Gatto or Hofland, surprise everyone?

A sprint is the likely scenario, but a late attack does have a chance of succeeding, depending on the participants.

Orica, to keep the race together and Matthews to win again.

David Hunter

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