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Despite working for his teammates on the final climb, Lopez responded to Moreno’s acceleration and managed to come around the Spaniard to win stage 4 of the Vuelta a Burgos; the Colombian also took the overall lead

Photo: Feltet.dk

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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DANIEL MORENO

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VUELTA A BURGOS 

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07.08.2015 @ 16:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) confirmed that he is one of the greatest talents when he beat Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and his teammate Michele Scarponi in the first hard stage of the Vuelta a Burgos. Despite having worked for his teammates on the final climb, he managed to glue himself to Moreno’s wheel and come around the Spaniard just metres before the line in the uphill sprint on stage 4 to take both the stage victory and the overall lead.

 

Last year Miguel Angel Lopez became the next big Colombian cycling revelation when he won the Tour de l’Avenir and signed a contract with Astana. However, the youngster has had a hard time in the first part of his first season as a knee injury has prevented him from living up to his potential.

 

He finally showed the full extent of his potential in the Tour de Suisse where he turned out to be stronger than team leader Jakob Fuglsang in the mountains and ended the race in the top 10. Since then he has been training for the second part of the season and today he finally proved that he is able to beat the best in the world when he won the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Burgos.

 

The stage ended at the top of a category 3 climb and was perfectly suited to puncheurs like Daniel Moreno and his teammate, race leader Luis Leon Sanchez. Hence, he was asked to work for his teammates on the final climb but in the end he turned out to be stronger than everybody.

 

Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) had launched a late attack and was hanging onto a 10-second advantage for several kilometres until he started to fade when the peloton the road got steeper inside the final 5km. When he was about to get caught he was passed by a lone Murias Taldea rider who briefly got a small gap.

 

Until that point, Astana had been in charge of the pace-setting but now Angel Vicioso took over for Katusha. The Spaniard set a brutal pace that made the peloton explode and quickly neutralized the attack from the Basque rider.

 

Vicioso swung off in 2km to go and as the pace went down, a Colombia rider tried to attack. However, Astana responded quickly and it was Rein Taaramae who reeled him in and started to ride on the front.

 

Taaramae set such a fast speed that no one dared to attack until the Colombia rider tried again. However, it was impossible to get away as Miguel Angel Lopez took over Taaramae and started to ride on the front.

 

The Colombian sent several riders out the back door and led the group under the flamme rouge, followed by Michele Scarponi and Mikel Landa. That set Scarponi up for an attack with 400m to go and he got a small gap before Daniel Moreno responded.

 

With Lopez glued to his wheel, he made it back to the Italian while race leader Luis Leon Sanchez was distanced as the group splintered. The Katusha rider seemed to have everything under control when he launched his sprint but the impressive Lopez came around him and managed to take a comfortable victory. Pierre Roger Latour (Ag2r) crossed the line in third after having passed Scarponi.

 

As Sanchez lost significant time on the final climb, Lopez takes over the race lead with a four-second advantage over Scarponi. He will try to defend that position in tomorrow’s tradition queen stage. After a relatively flat first part, the riders will tackle three category 2 and one category 1 climb before they reach the bottom of the famous climb to Lagunas de Neila where the race will be decided.

 

One for the puncheurs

After yesterday’s flat stage, the puncheurs were expected to be back in action on stage four which brought the riders over 161km from Belorado to an uphill finish in Pineda de la Sierra. The first part of the stage was mostly flat with just a single category 3 climb but the final 50km were all gradually uphill, culminating at the top of a category 3 climb. The final 3km averaged 6-7%.

 

 As usual, it was a hot and sunny day in Burgos when the riders gathered for the start. Surprisingly, yesterday’s stage winner Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) was absent as they rolled out for the neutral ride.

 

An early break

Unlike yesterday when it took a long time for the early break to be formed, the break escaped staright from the gun when Quentin Jauregui (Ag2r), Jean-Marc Bideau (Bretagne), Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Ibai Salas (Burgos) and Ion Ander Insausti (Murias Taldea) attacked. Already at the 5km mark, they had an advantage of 1.20.

 

After 19km of racing, the gap had gone out to 2.44 and it was now the Astana team that had taken control of the peloton. When Salas beat Jauregui and Bideau in the first intermediate sprint, the gap was still only 2.36.

 

Astana in control

Salas also won the second intermediate sprint where he beat Colli and Bideay while the peloton followed at 2 minutes and he made it three in a row at the third sprint, holding off Insausti and Bideau. Moments later, Bideau led Jauregui, Salas and Insausti over the top of the first climb while the peloton followed at 2.20.

 

Astana remained in control and made sure that the gap was only 1.42 at the 88km mark. When they enered the final 50km, it was 1.45 and now Katusha were lending a hand to the chase.

 

Movistar attack in the crosswinds

Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev, Davide Malacarne, Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) and Rudiger Selig (Katusha) were trading pulls to keep the gap stable until the accelerated inside the final 40km. With 36km to go, the gap was only 50 seconds and Selig and Kozhatayev were even riding so fast that they briefly escaped from the peloton.

 

With 35km to go, Movistar tried to attack in the crosswinds when Dayer Quintana, Rory Sutherland and Marc Soler hit the front but they failed to make much damage. However, the gap was down to just 20 seconds when they stopped their effort just 3km later.

 

The break splits up

Astana again took control with Malacarne and Kozahatayev and later Vanotti also got back on the front. They allowed the gap to go out to 30 seconds with 25km to go. At this point, Insausti tried to attack but he had no luck.

 

Instead, it was Jauregui who hit the front on a small climb and he set a fast pace. Insausti was the first to get dropped, Colli was next and finally Salas also had to surrender. Those three riders were brought back while Bideau and Jauregui fought hard to maintain a 20-seconds advantage.

 

Mas and Gougeard give it a go

Astana were in complete control after briefly having got a bit of help from Selig and they had brought the gap down to 15 seconds with 20km to go. Two kilometres later, it was over for the two Frenchman and from there Astana continued to ride on the front, with Vanotti taking some big turns.

 

With 13km to go, the ever-aggressive Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) took off and he managed to build an advantage of 10 seconds which he maintained for 5km while Astana were leading the chase. As he started to fade, Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) attacked strongly from the peloton with 8km to go and he flew past the Spaniard who was brought back. He did well to stay clear for a few kilometres but in the end he was brought back in time for the favourites to shine.

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