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Vuelta a Espana 2019: Fabio Jakobsen pips Sam Bennett to Stage 4 win

Bennett leaves it just too late and falls short of second stage win in a row

George Smith
27 Aug 2019

Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen (Decueninck-QuickStep) narrowly beat Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) to the line on Stage 4 to claim his first Grand Tour stage win at this year's Vuelta a España.

Bennett, who was yesterday’s winner, left it too late to catch Jakobsen after being distanced when taking the wrong way around the last roundabout, though he ended the day in the green points jersey.

Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) finished up the day's podium, while behind the sprinters, Nicholas Roche (Team Sunweb) finished safely in the bunch, retaining his red jersey from Colombian rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

A day to remain cautious

All in all it proved to be a routine day for riders, with no significant changes elsewhere.

Nonetheless, with Stage 2 providing reasons to be cautious about so called ‘days for the sprinters’, and then Stage 3 rebutting that with a quintessential sprint victory for Irish fastman Bennett, it was anyone’s guess how Stage 4 was going to pan out at the start of the day.

But by all accounts it did have the trappings of a sprinters' stage, with the Puerto del Oronet the sole lump piercing the day’s flat profile with its 5.8km ascent at 4.5% coming after 129.5km of riding.

Besides this Category 3 climb, and to a lesser extent the intermediate sprint point that preceded it at 122km, there was little of note on the cards that displayed the potential to shake up the script of the day except for some technical roundabouts and an ominous weather forecast.

Yet when riders set off from Cullera on their way to El Puig on the final flat day before the real GC run in begins tomorrow, it didn’t seem that much would happen until the fast and wet finale.

From the gun Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) and Jorge Cubero (Burgos-BH) quickly amassed a large gap at the front of the race, extending it to 6:48 by 30km.

A mild crash after a couple of hours saw Aritz Bagües (Euskadi-Murias) require medical assistance for his wrist, while Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) was also caught out but managed to ride back on with relative ease.

Elsewhere, and unrelated to the incident, 2019 Tour de France podium finisher Steven Kruijswick (Jumbo-Visma) abandoned the race due to a sore knee that had been bothering him since his team’s crash in the opening TTT.

At the halfway point of the day the two men in the breakaway were sitting comfortably in the lead with a gap of around 4 minutes to the chasing bunch.

From there, the gap steadily decreased as the winds slightly picked up. By the technical foot of the climb - if only the gentle, uncategorised part - their lead had been slashed to a bit over 1 minute.

A touch of wheels between teammates saw Education First pair Rigoberto Urán and Mitch Docker hit the deck, though the riders caught back on easily despite the Colombian spending some time at the medical car with a gash to his wrist.

In front of them, Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) rolled in at the head of the bunch to take the final sprint point and single bonus second remaining. Wallays and Cubero, still in the breakaway, took 4 and 2 points, and 3 and 2 seconds, respectively.

Following on, the peloton were greeted by some heavy rain and thunder as they reached the actual foot of the climb, though it was navigated safely.

Current King of the Mountains, Ángel Madrazo (Burgos-BH), took the last point on offer at the top of the Puerto del Oronet behind the breakaway pair.

Cubero’s day at the front came to a premature end as some mechanical issues meant he was swallowed up with 27km to go.

Wallays stayed out solo for some time more but couldn’t hold back the tide and was caught with 18km remaining, earning him the combativity award.

On the ride into the line the peloton was stretched out as GC teams took turns shepherding their overall hopefuls into the final 3km while the other teams jostled to place their sprint trains.