Sam Bennett wins stage 4 of the Vuelta a España: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

As we head into the weekend, the breakaway had a chance to shine at the Giro d’Italia, while the sprinters battled it out at the Vuelta.

In Italy, there was some intrigue in the early goings as a rider protest led to the shortening of the stage. When things did finally resume, it was all about the escapees and a big solo move off the front late in the race.

Over in Spain, the fast finishers had their first chance at victory, and they took full advantage of the opportunity.

Read on for more …

Dane Cash and Abby Mickey

What’s News

| Bennett sprints to victory on stage 4 of the Vuelta a España

Sam Bennett picked up his third career Vuelta a España stage win, and his third Grand Tour stage win of this season, on Friday’s stage 4.

The 30-year-old Irishman powered to victory in a bunch kick in Ejea de los Caballeros, surging past Jasper Philipsen in the closing meters. Philipsen settled for runner-up honors with Jakub Mareczko in third.

Race leader Primoz Roglic and the rest of the major red jersey contenders finished safely in the peloton to keep the top of the GC standings unchanged on the day.

After three days for the climbers at the Vuelta, stage 4 was a mostly flat day that had the sprinters’ teams interested in keeping things together for the first bunch kick of the race.

It took some time for the early break to form, with five riders eventually getting clear. The escapees built an advantage of around four minutes before the gap stopped growing, and then pack gradually reeled the escape back in over the next hundred kilometers or so, with the break caught at 15 kilometers to go.

From there, the sprinters’ teams began to jockey for position. Bora-Hansgrohe led the way into the last few kilometers, where Deceuninck-Quick-Step took over. Philipsen launched early in the final kick, but a well-positioned Bennett responded and pulled past in the closing meters to get the win.

Top 10, stage 4

1 BENNETT Sam (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 3:53:29
2 PHILIPSEN Jasper (UAE-Team Emirates)
3 MARECZKO Jakub (CCC Team)
4 ACKERMANN Pascal (BORA – hansgrohe)
5 THIJSSEN Gerben (Lotto Soudal)
6 MOSCHETTI Matteo (Trek – Segafredo)
7 KANTER Max (Team Sunweb)
8 RÄIM Mihkel (Israel Start-Up Nation)
9 MORIN Emmanuel (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits)
10 CORT Magnus (EF Pro Cycling)

Top 10, GC

1 ROGLIC Primoz (Team Jumbo-Visma) 16:30:53
2 MARTIN Dan (Israel Start-Up Nation) 0:05
3 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:13
4 MAS Enric (Movistar Team) 0:32
5 CARTHY Hugh (EF Pro Cycling) 0:38
6 KUSS Sepp (Team Jumbo-Visma) 0:44
7 GROSSSCHARTNER Felix (BORA – hansgrohe) 1:17
8 CHAVES Esteban (Mitchelton-Scott) 1:29
9 SOLER Marc (Movistar Team) 1:55
10 BENNETT George (Team Jumbo-Visma) 1:57

| Josef Cerny wins a shortened stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia

In an aggressive and exciting stage 19 of the Giro d’Italia, Josef Cerny claimed his first World Tour win solo in Asti. Second would go to a chasing Victor Campenaerts, and third to Jacopo Mosca out of the remains of the breakaway.

The drama started before the riders even lined up, or rather before they didn’t. When the riders were due to be on the start line they were instead taking shelter from the rain under tents. A combination of the seven-hour transfer after stage 18 and the horrendous weather in Morbegno made for some discontent in the peloton. The CPA rider representative Adam Hansen negotiated with the race organizer to have the stage shortened from 258 km to 124 km, and after riding the original first 8km in the start town of Morbegno they climbed back into their buses to drive to the new start.

In Abbiategrasso the riders lined up for a relatively flat run to Asti. Attacks started immediately with three riders having a go off the front, chased by 11 more, and Bora-Hansgrohe pacing the peloton. The two groups in front merged to create a break of 14, and although they were relatively organized the pace of Bora-Hansgrohe behind kept the time gap under a minute until 57km to go. With the breakaway able to hold their distance from Bora-Hansgrohe the team of Peter Sagan finally pulled the pin, and once they had the gap to the leaders increased to three minutes.

Without Bora-Hansgrohe chasing the peloton slowed immensely with the break looking at over an eight-minute gap to the peloton. Within the final 30km, the race was going to go to the break, and the attacks started. Current hour record holder Campenaerts was the most motivated to get away but was not the only breakaway member to have a go. Lachlan Morton tried his luck, as did Sander Armée. The attacks caused the break to fracture and for the time gap to blow out to over nine minutes ahead of the peloton, led by Team Sunweb.

Six riders remained at an advantage over the rest, but CCC rider Josef Cerny took advantage of the chaos to go solo. Cerny was sixth in the opening time trial and fifth in the stage 14 time trial, the perfect type of rider to stay away until the finish.

Behind Cerny, the chasing group of five were not organized enough to shut down the solo rider before his advantage exceeded 30 seconds, but into the final 10 km, Cerny’s gap was dropping under half a minute. In a nail-biting final 5km, the gap to Cerny hovered around 20 seconds, dropping to 17 seconds at one point, but Cerny rode into the finish alone to raise his arms and take CCC’s first WorldTour win of 2020. In the final kilometer Campenaerts attacked his breakaway mates to roll in solo for second place, Mosca bested the rest for third.

The general classification remains the same before a final mountainous stage and the final time trial over the weekend.

Top 10, stage 19

1 CERNY Josef (CCC Team) 2:30:40
2 CAMPENAERTS Victor (NTT Pro Cycling) 0:18
3 MOSCA Jacopo (Trek – Segafredo) 0:26
4 CLARKE Simon (EF Pro Cycling)
5 KEISSE Iljo (Deceuninck – Quick Step)
6 ARMÉE Sander (Lotto Soudal)
7 TORRES Albert (Movistar Team) 1:10
8 PELLAUD Simon (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec)
9 CARBONI Giovanni (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè)
10 DOWSETT Alex (Israel Start-Up Nation)

Top 10, GC

1 KELDERMAN Wilco (Team Sunweb) 80:29:19
2 HINDLEY Jai (Team Sunweb) 0:12
3 GEOGHEGAN HART Tao (INEOS Grenadiers) 0:15
4 BILBAO Pello (Bahrain – McLaren) 1:19
5 ALMEIDA João (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 2:16
6 FUGLSANG Jakob (Astana Pro Team) 3:59
7 KONRAD Patrick (BORA – hansgrohe) 5:40
8 NIBALI Vincenzo (Trek – Segafredo) 5:47
9 MASNADA Fausto (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 6:46
10 MAJKA Rafal (BORA – hansgrohe) 7:28

| O’Connor signs with AG2R

Ben O’Connor will join AG2R Citroën next year after four seasons with the NTT organization.

The team announced the signing of the 24-year-old Australian fresh on the heels of his first ever Grand Tour stage win after he ascended to an impressive victory on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia.

“We had been in contact with Ben O’Connor for two years,” team manager Vincent Lavenu said in a press release. “His profile as a climber was of great interest to us and he really has the strengths we were looking for. He is not yet 25 years old and has already confirmed his potential with his stage victory in the Giro as well as his good overall performance. He is certainly a top reinforcement for the team.”

| Swirbul signs with Rally

Keegan Swirbul will ride for Rally next season after signing a two-year deal, the team announced on Friday.

The 25-year-old American is an up-and-coming climbing talent whose list of career achievements includes a second-place overall finish at the Tour de Langkawi and two GC top 10s at the Tour of Utah. He recently joined Rally as a stagiaire, racing to ninth overall at the GP Internacional Torres Vedras in Portugal.

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Today’s featured image of Sam Bennett winning stage 4 of the Vuelta a España comes from Cor Vos.

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