La Vuelta | Stage 4
Uninterrupted Coverage, Garray - Ejea de los Caballeros (190km)
LIVE UPDATES FROM STAGE 4
Top 5 on the stage
1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
2. Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates)
3. Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team)
4. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe)
5. Gerben Thijssen (Lotto Soudal)
So I was wrong, Philipsen held off for second, with Maerczko there for the final podium place.
Sam Bennett wins stage four!
The Irishman was able to come around Philipsen right before the line – he simply had more speed than the UAE Team Emirates rider and he timed his sprint to perfection.
Ackermann looked to take third, behind Philipsen.
Philipsen takes a flyer!
The Belgian is trying to steal it from under Bennett's nose.
Bennett in great position...
Ackermann is behind him.
Deceuninck dominate the front with seven riders in the front nine.
3km to go – Manzin is well placed
The Total Direct Energie rider has a fast finish.
Now finally Deceuninck seize control and come blasting to the front of the peloton. EF are clinging tightly to their wheels.
5km to go – Elbows out
They're really jostling for positions here now and the peloton is rapidly whittling down. Everyone wants to be at the front.
Bora are doing a good job for Ackermann at the moment.
Sunweb are coming up with Max Kanter.
10km to go – They've caught him
Well done Willie, same time tomorrow, pal?
NTT are up at the front of the bunch, as are Israel StartUp Nation and Astana.
I like Astana's chances with Alex Aranburu today.
15km to go – He's still goin'!
This is spirited stuff from Willie Smit. He must be all of 100 metres ahead of the peloton now but he is still plugging away.
I don't think he'll win.
20km to go – Willie Smit last man
The South African in the break for his second consecutive day is going to try and secure the most aggressive rider prize with a solo push for the line.
He went over the top of Harry Tanfield after the stage's only intermediate sprint. The Englishman won the max points and is doing his level best to chase Smit back down.
Tanfield's biggest career win came from an opportunistic breakaway, when he won a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2018.
30km to go – Deceuninck, Trek, Total Direct Energie lead the bunch
I hope we see a swashbuckling long-range attack at some point soon. I never really feel La Vuelta has begun until the first YOLO solo.
40km to go – One for Matteo Moschetti?
The Italian on Trek Segafredo had a great opening to the season, but his form came to an abrupt end when he sustained a horrible injury. If he's back to the sort of level that saw him win the Trofeo de Palma and Trofeo Felanitx in Mallorca in January and February then he could well bag a great result.
He looked pretty pedestrian at the BinckBank Tour, it must be said.
50km to go – Pee break
The gap was just beginning to narrow to our four leaders but the peloton has called a comfort break, which should allow it to balloon out again.
Final hour of racing now, so expect things to get hotter and hotter.
The gap is 2'03".
60km to go – Favourites for the finish
Sam Bennett is a big name in any sprint finale, and is coming in hot to the race after winning the green jersey at Le Tour.
Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe is a hard man to beat when he gets up to speed, and is presumably quite a bit fresher than Sammy B.
Jasper Philipsen of UAE Team Emirates might also be able to do something, with Magnus Cort the best chance for EF Pro Cycling to take the win. Jakub Mareczko of CCC Team is a powerful finisher.
80km to go – La Vuelta, still pretty, still fast
They are hitting speeds of 70km/h in the peloton right now which is giving the riders hardly any time at all enjoy the lovely vistas.
95km to go – Pink pulling the peloton
It's EF Pro Cycling who are doing the driving in the peloton. They are clearly making a show of protecting their emergent GC leader, Hugh Carthy.
Carthy was expected to support Martinez in the mountains here at La Vuelta, but with the Colombian's withdrawal this morning, he can now move into the leadership role.
110km to go – Rattling along
The average speed is now 51.6km/h, with the break just 1'40" ahead of the peloton.
A reminder that the four members are Harry Tanfield (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jesus Ezquerra & Willie Smit (Burgos-BH).
125 km to go – Not-so-happy birthday for EF
It's the birthday of EF Pro Cycling rider, Julius van den Berg. His special day didnot begin well, with the withdrawal from La Vuelta through injury of Dani Martinez.
Martinez was supposed to be the main man for EF at this race, but he had a crash on the opening stage that damaged his foot and has ruled him out of competition.
This latest blow comes on the heels of an unsuccessful Tour de France tilt for the Colombian – he will be very glad to see the back of 2020, you would think, after it started so magnificently for him with a win at the Tour Colombia 2.1 in his home nation.
150km to go – Gap pegged at three minutes
As they head over the edge of the ridge a Matalabreras, they now have a long, largely unbroken descent for about 50 kilometres. The average speed so far has already been 46.7km/h, today – and I expect that to get much higher in the next hour of racing.
160km to go – No Tourmalet for La Vuelta this year
The peloton was due to contend with the mighty beast of the Pyrenees on Sunday, but regrettably that is not now going to happen.
The decision has been made not to take the race into France after a state of health emergency was declared in that country.
The revised route for stage six will finish at Aramon Formigal.
180km to go – Brit in the break
Our Harry Tanfield of AG2R is in the break, joined by Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jesus Ezquerra & Willie Smit (Burgos-BH).
The usual suspects then, in today's escape. They have a gap of nearly three minutes.
And we are underway now with the stage. 191 very fast kilometres coming up!
Martin makes his mark
The steep finish yesterday provided the perfect launch pad for Dan Martin to take a well-deserved win.
We're off and racing again for the fourth day in this effervescent edition of La Vuelta.
Today is the first opportunity for the sprinters to bag a win, with Tour de France green jersey Sam Bennett looking like the most likely person to secure the victory.
We are on our way to Aragon, one of Spain's autonomous regions, after a couple of days in Navarre and a brief dalliance with Castile Y Leon yesterday.
The centre of Spain is characterised by a high plain, on which Madrid sits – it's the highest capital city in Europe, don't you know – as well as our start town of Soria. We'll drop down off that plane today as we hurtle towards the finish at Ejea de los Caballeros.
FROOME WAS CAUSING DAMAGE ON STAGE 3 - WIGGINS
Bradley Wiggins and Brian Smith discussed the merits of Chris Froome’s place on the Ineos Grenadiers roster at the Vuelta in the latest episode of the Bradley Wiggins show, concluding that he is owed his spot.
After an opening two stages in which he looked well off the pace and dropped over ten minutes on each day, Froome enjoyed a better performance on Stage 3, remaining in the bunch and playing a role for Ineos for much of the stage.
“Chris Froome, it was good to see him back in the action, he was causing some damage," said Wiggins. "I wouldn't say it was a select group by the end but it was certainly good to see him dishing it out again in stage three."
“Froome needs it [to be racing at a Grand Tour], and because he needs it he is giving his all for the team,” added Smith. “Also, having a Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins or a Mark Cavendish just lifts the team. There is a lot of respect for a rider of his calibre. I am glad he is there and he will get better.”
HOW TO WATCH LA VUELTA LIVE – TV & LIVE STREAMING
The Vuelta a Espana is live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport App.
Each day Eurosport.co.uk will stream uninterrupted coverage of each stage. We will also have rolling coverage online on the website and our social channels.
And don't forget, we are bringing you daily podcasts from the Bradley Wiggins Show - check in with your podcast platform of choice each evening.