2022 Vuelta a España – Stage 4 Preview
The final day in the Netherlands saw another bunch sprint for the victory, and the result was not too different as Sam Bennett was once again launched to the win by Danny van Poppel, and Mads Pedersen sprinted to second place. Dan McLay finished third whilst Edoardo Affini rode into the red jersey.
Positive: Sam Bennett taking a second stage win and Affini having the spotlight on him after a lot of hard work.
Negative: Michael Woods abandoned the race after a crash early on.
The fourth stage sees the peloton travel to Spain, for more familiar roads. It’s a hilly day into Laguardia, just outside of Logroño, a warm-up for the weeks to come as it features a very rolling terrain and a profile that will lead to a very open stage where a lot can happen.
Late attacks can succeed, but a reduced bunch sprint with the GC riders is also expected. The first third of the stage is relatively flat, the last two features some small climbs, but nothing too hard.
The main and most important of the day will be the Puerto de Herrera. It summits with only 14.6 kilometers to go and features bonus seconds at the top which may be to the liking of some. It’s a tricky climb, 6.9Km at 5.1%, but the first half features several sections above 10%. It’s very inconsistent, with a few downhill and flat sections inbetween, but overall not a complicated ascent for those who are used to it – although it will limit those capable of fighting for a result.
The finale though has the potential to be more dangerous, it will be a sharp hilltop finish in the small town, with relatively narrow roads and steep gradients. The run-up to the ramp will be furious, so this won’t be a short effort, however in the climb to the line it averages 8% for almost a kilometer. One suited to the puncheurs, and the GC climbers will also have to grit their teeth not to loose time – or win, depending on the rider.
High temperatures, the peloton will go into the Spanish heat directly, in a day through the dry region of Burgos where the wind will be relatively absent.
Breakaway chances: 10%
Jumbo will want to keep the red jersey in their command, there are several riders with the chance of taking the stage win and the profile also doesn’t make it hard to organize a proper chase. Opportunities will come later in the race.
Julian Alaphilippe & Remco Evenepoel – On his best day Julian Alaphilippe would be a prime contender for this finale. Earlier in the season, Evenepoel would also have very high chances – however he came from a block of non-explosive preparation. Both aren’t in the best position, but both have the quality and can make it work on a day like this.
Primoz Roglic – On a good day this would be a very good finale for Roglic. Jumbo obviously carry good form, however no questions have yet been answered from Roglic himself. With bonus seconds available the GC guys will go all-in, and he can jump into the race lead.
The stage isn’t that hard, and the peloton will arrive mostly compact to the final hilltop. The final climb is steep but it’s a short effort and sprint speed will be crucial. The likes of Ethan Hayter and Robert Stannard can be very dangerous if they find themselves in a strong position into the climb. Some faster men like Bryan Coquard and Mike Teunissen should also be capable of fighting for this win on their best day, whilst Israel duo Patrick Bevin and Daryl Impey are outsiders to consider.
However it will take serious climbing legs to be able to make it to the sprint with the capacity to accelerate, that will be hard to manage. Some riders can mix both very well such as Sergio Higuita and Alejandro Valverde, Thibaut Pinot in his prime or for example Santiago Buitrago who won a similar finale at the Vuelta a Burgos earlier this month. Richard Carapaz, Simon Yates and João Almeida also have a strong uphill sprint. I think Carapaz is not yet on his best form, as Yates, and Almeida will not enjoy such a sharp effort however.
Wilco Kelderman, Jai Hindley, Pavel Sivakov, Juan Ayuso and Miguel Ángel López are also riders to consider, albeit it would need to be an early attack to have one of them win, likely.
Inside The Bus
This morning I talk to…
#102 Patrick Bevin – The form hasn’t been there Patrick, but it’s a day for us to try and do something. It should be a sprint between the GC guys and some puncheurs towards the end, and we would like to see you in contention. There will be better stages for you, but this is an opportunity, and we will help you stay in contact with the bunch until the finish.
#56 José Herrada – Let’s stay in the pack. It won’t be easy but we have hopes that Bryan can survive the climbs and fight for the win, so I want you to stay with him and the guys, to save him as much energy as possible throughout the day.
#86 Carlos Rodríguez – We ideally won’t have you working Carlos, but be attempt in case there are splits, as Richard and Pavel are the priority. Ideally however, all you guys must be able to make it to the final hilltop safely, and you won’t loose time so that we can keep our depth for the GC.
⭐⭐⭐ Higuita, Evenepoel
⭐⭐Alaphilippe, Roglic, Carapaz, Buitrago, Valverde
⭐Coquard, R.Stannard, Hindley, Kelderman, Sivakov, S.Yates, Almeida, MA.López
A peloton finished in my opinion, and although the list of favourites is big, I will go for Sergio Higuita has he’s won a similar finale recently, and has the perfect combination of climbing and sprinting capacity.
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1 thought on “2022 Vuelta a España – Stage 4 Preview”
Quite a lot of contenders indeed, I think Jumbo will try to make the race harder especially on the last climb, but somehow I see Evenepoel to take the win, in a close fight with Roglic, a duel which should become a classic.
Thanks as always for the preview !