So far we have a variety of sprint finishes with wins for Nacer Bouhanni, Michael Matthews and John Degenkolb. Today’s stage offers a classic flat route with few surprises in the finish, a day for the pure sprinters.
Stage 4 Wrap
To win a sprint requires good position and being on the right wheel. With 30km to go up on the Alto Catorce Por Ciento John Degenkolb was sitting in the top-10, more precisely on Nairo Quintana’s wheel.A later attack over the top saw Alejandro Valverde on the move and marked by Adam Yates, a policeman for Michael Matthews and his red jersey. Yates could be forgiven for nervousness trying to track Valverde downhill but the move was reeled in and we got a sprint finish albeit with few sprinters left. Degenkolb took an effective win with a good margin on the rest with Vincente Reynes doing his part to satisfy IAM Cycling’s wildcard invitation.
It was a very hot day but if there comments after the race on Twitter there were few complaints. Riders seem used to the heat and most of the time they had enough of a cooling draft.
The Route: the Puerto El Saltillo rises up but at a gradual rate and never more than 5%. It’s not an obstacle for the sprinters.
The Finish: long and straight with almost no obstacles in the final 5km. It rises slightly to the line.
The Scenario: a sprint finish seems highly likely. Tomorrow is the first summit finish of the race and so today’s the day for several sprinters and teams. Astana will be working to set up their sprinter Andrea Guardini, ditto Belkin with Moreno Hofland.
The Contenders: Nacer Bouhanni is the prime pick. He seems to have the pure speed needed. John Degenkolb is close and Guardini and Hofland have yet to get a clear chance.
|Andrea Guardini, Moreno Hofland
|Hutarovich, Ferrari, Ciolek
Weather: hot again but not as hot with temperatures of 35°C and a light breeze from the north-west.
TV: As usual the finish is expected for 5.40pm Euro time.
Daily Díaz: Ronda, today’s stage finish, has a couple of things we can talk about. First, bullfighting, which is one of Spain’s greatest clichés: Ronda has the oldest arena in the country, where once a year the corrida goyesca (a bullfighting spectacle where the toreros are dressed in the XVIIIth century style) takes place. Second, Ronda has a museum dedicated to the bandits (Museo del bandolero), for its surroundings were the scenery of numerous episodes of banditry during the 19th and even 20th centuries (first against the Napoleonic invasion, later against the law). The city was actually chosen as the filming location for Curro Jiménez, a very successful 1970s TV series in which the main characters were good-natured bandits.
Thanks to cycling podcaster and history teacher Manuel Pérez Díaz for the local information. You can follow him on Twitter as perezdiazmanuel