Vuelta a España: Dani Moreno wins stage four at the end of the World
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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vuelta a España: Dani Moreno wins stage four at the end of the World

by Ben Atkins at 11:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, Race Reports and Results
 
Katusha climber attacks in the final half kilometre; Nibali takes back the red jersey

dani morenoDani Moreno (Katusha) managed to improve on his second place two days before to win the fourth stage of the 2013 Vuelta a España - the “Etapa Fin del Mundo” - between Lalín and Finisterra. The Spanish climber countered a final kilometre attack from Jun Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) on the climb to the finish, then held off the chase from behind all the way to the line.

Swiss Classics king Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) led the charge behind Moreno, but was just unable to overhaul the Katusha rider and crossed the line a few lengths behind. Australian Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took his own best finish of the race, just behind Cancellara in third.

Stage three winner, and overnight race leader, Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) finished behind a six-second split in the pack, as a gap appeared behind the 21st rider. This was enough to see the American veteran lose his red jersey to Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), who had held it the day before.

“I'm very happy with this victory,” said Moreno. “Yesterday I said to my teammates that I would have liked to try to win today because I liked this stage a lot. I have to thank all them, especially Luca Paolini, who helped me a lot in the final part in order to put me in the best position for attacking, and Purito [Joaquim Rodríguez]; we know each other very well, we know which stages are more suitable to the other.

“He's the leader, but he usually leaves me some chances for myself,” Moreno explained of Rodríguez. “I have to be focused and take advantage of them, I think the race is still very long and maybe I'll have some more chances. It was a great victory in a very demanding stage. [The steep climb of] Mirador de Ezaro was really tough and was expected to make the difference, but maybe nobody wanted to try to make a huge selection because it was still a long way to the finish line”.

The 189km stage saw a long breakaway from Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing), Dennis Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) and Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Sharp), who escaped in the early kilometres and managed to open up a lead of almost eight minutes.

Edet left the others behind with 38km to go, on the super-steep 3rd category climb to the Mirador de Ézaro, which featured sections of up to 30%. The Frenchman was joined by a counterattack from Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), and then by José Herrada (Movistar), Luis León Sánchez (Belkin), Angel Vicioso (Katusha) and Dominik Nerz (BMC Racing), and the six of them were together for around ten kilometres before the five new breakaways were caught by the peloton with 17km to go.

The Cofidis rider persisted, just seconds ahead, before finally being pulled back two kilometres later.

From that point the pace was kept high on the way to the final drag, by Orica-GreenEdge, Cannondale and Astana. It was Flecha that managed to escape just before the flamme rouge, however, and open up a healthy gap over the chasing pack.

Moreno burst away with just over 500 metres to go though, quickly passing Flecha, and - despite Cancallara leading a strong chase from behind - did enough to take the stage victory.

Five get clear as everybody waits for the Mirador de Ézaro

Wyss, Edet, Veikkanen and Vanendert finally escaped after a fast opening nine kilometres saw several other attempts fail, and were joined by Rasmussen three kilometres later. Having taken several minutes for the group to get established, the quintet was allowed by Horner’s RadioShack-Leopard team to build a substantial lead, and was 7’25” ahead after 85km.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step moved to the head of the peloton on behalf of punchy sprinter Gianni Meersman, for whom the stage finish would be suitable, and the group’s advantage steadily began to come down.

The rolling midsection of the stage, peppered with unclassified climbs, was to see the group’s lead fade more quickly as several teams began to fight for position at the head of the peloton. The Mirador de Ézaro climb was looming, and none of the big names wanted to be caught out at the back.

As Edet took the intermediate sprint in Quilmas, with 41km to go, the gap was down to 2’55” and, as the five riders finally hit the foot of the climb five kilometres later, it was less than a minute.

Rasmussen and Veikkanen were dropped almost immediately and, as the remaining three breakaway riders hit the steepest 30% gradients, Edet pushed on alone. By now the Frenchman was just 30 seconds clear of the front of the peloton, with several riders forced to dismount on the climb behind him.

Txurruka attacked from the bunch and, passing Wyss shortly after the summit if the climb, managed to make contact with Edet with 28km to go. Four more counterattacked from the pelotonm in the shape of Herrada, Sánchez, Vicioso and Nerz, and joined the two leaders a kilometre and a half later.

The new group was just 20 seconds clear of the peloton, however, and RadioShack-Leopard was on the front and closing quickly.

With 17km to go the peloton was on the heels of the group, and the five new members sat up and were caught. Edet was determined to stay away, and persisted in his efforts, but he too was finally pulled back just over two kilometres later.

No more attacks as the favourites key themselves up for the finishing climb

RadioShack-Leopard then continued to keep the pace high, to prevent any further counterattacks, with Cannondale and Argos-Shimano moving up shortly afterwards. With 11km to go Orica-GreenEdge took over, but then Cannondale moved ahead into the final five kilometres, with Astana and Team Sky lurking behind.

Astana and Katusha then accelerated as the final climb began with two and a half kilometres to go, with Astana leading into the final kilometre and a half. Vacansoleil-DCM was active near the front, however, and - as the favourites began to look at one another - the speed dropped and the peloton spread itself across the road.

Flecha made his move under the flamme rouge, and managed to quickly open up a lead of several metres before the chase could be organised. Herrada was the one to finally give chase for Movistar though, with Moreno on his wheel and the rest of the favourites strung out behind them.

Moreno then jumped, and passed Flecha with 500 metres to go, and managed to open up an even bigger gap than the Vacansoleil-DCM rider had done.

Cancellara was leading the chase behind, and was gradually reeling in the Katusha climber as the road began to level out in the final 200 metres. Moreno had done just enough, however, and - although Cancellara was awarded the same time as the Spanish rider - he crossed the line several lengths clear.

In addition to him missing out on the stage win, the pace of Cancellara’s chase had backfired on the RadioShack-Leopard team, as it forced a split in the peloton 21 riders back. Horner lost six seconds to the group containing Nibali and most of the other overall contenders, and with it he lost the red jersey.

Result stage 4
1. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Leopard
3. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
7. Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Sky Procycling
10. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff

Standings after 4
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
2. Chris Horner (USA) RadioShack-Leopard@ 3s
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 8s
4. Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) RadioShack-Leopard @ 16s
5. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team @ 21s
6. Robert Kiserlovski (Spa) RadioShack-Leopard @ 26s
7. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Sky Procycling @ 28s
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha Team @ 31s
9. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Saxo-Tinkoff @ 42s
10. Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura @ 45s

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