Matteo Trentin wins stage four as Froome stays in red
Vuelta a Espana 2017
Trentin benefited from a strong lead-out from his Quick-Step Floors team and timed his sprint to perfection – surging past Spaniard Juan Jose Lobato (LottoNL-Jumbo) to take a maiden win in his debut Vuelta by a bike length.
Belgians Tom Van Asbroeck (Cannondale-Drapac), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) completed the top five on a fast finish preceded by a technical approach and a succession of roundabouts.
Trentin’s victory means the 28-year-old becomes the 14th active rider to have notched stage wins in all three of cycling’s Grand Tours. The Italian also picked up the green points jersey for his efforts.
Team Sky’s Froome came though his first day in the leader’s red jersey unscathed, the quadruple Tour de France champion finishing safely in the pack to retain his two-second lead over Spaniard David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) in the general classification.
But others were less fortunate with veterans Daniel Moreno (Movistar) and Domenico Pozzovivo(Ag2R-La Mondiale) among a handful of riders who crashed heavily on the outskirts of the famous seaside resort of Tarragona inside the final 5km of the race.
An early break of five riders in the 198.2km stage from Escaldes-Engordany was whittled down to just two when Spain’s Diego Rubio (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Frenchman Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) darted clear on the only climb of the day.
The break had established a maximum lead of seven minutes as the mercury pushed through to the high-30s in scorching Catalonia. But Rubio and Rossetto made their move on the Cat.3 Alto de Beltall with 75km remaining with the gap down to four minutes.
Frenchman Johan Le Bon (FDJ) and Australian Nick Schultz (Caja-Rural) were soon the first of the initial escapees to be swallowed up while rookie rider Juan Osorio (Manzana Postobon) gamely resisted for another 20km before succumbing to the inevitable.
Once Rossetto led Rubio over the summit of the long but gradual climb – made harder by a strong headwind – the two leaders managed to extend their lead back to the five-minute mark before the teams of the sprinters combined to reel them gradually in.
Through the towering figure of Belgian Tim Declercq, Quick-Step Floors carried out the lion’s share of the chase alongside the Aqua Blue Sport and Lotto Soudal teams of sprinters Adam Blythe and Debusschere.
After a commendable day out ahead, the two leaders were reeled in with 8km remaining – but not before Rubio put in a little dig to distance Rossetto (although the Frenchman managed to turn the tables before the pack closed in).
At this point, Dutchman Wilco Kelderman had managed to fight back after crashing with 18km remaining – the Sunweb rider paced back by two team-mates to ensure he lost no time.
No such luck for Moreno and Pozzovivo, whose crash came just outside the 3km cut-off point. The Spaniard limited his losses to 1’38” but his Italian counterpart conceded 3’35” to end his chances of a high finish in Madrid.
It was a bad day, too, for the Polish climber Rafal Majka of Bora-Hanshrohe who, suffering from illness, came home almost four minutes in arrears.
Quick-Step led the field with three riders entering the final kilometre ahead of the bunch sprint. Spaniard Lobato went early on the home straight, but Trentin – second behind team-mate Yves Lampaert on Sunday’s second stage – showed his class with a powerful surge en route to thumping his chest in celebration over the line.
“I was really looking for a victory because I’m going strong in this last part of the season,” Trentin said. “After the crash that took me out of the Tour de France, I was just thinking about coming here and winning a stage at La Vuelta.
“Two days ago, we did a really smart job to get the victory with Yves Lampaert, who took the win and the red jersey. Today we decided it was my time. The guys were amazing. We got a bit of help at the beginning but when things went bananas we held it together with everyone pulling – it was really beautiful coming into the finish.”
Asked how it felt to complete his Grand Tour set of wins, Trentin, who will join Orica-Scott on a two-year contract at the end of the season, said: “I’m really proud to do this with Quick-Step. Next year I’m going to change team but I’ve won at the Giro, the Tour and now La Vuelta with Quick-Step so I’m really proud with all these results.”
La Vuelta continues on Wednesday with an undulating 175.7km Stage 5 that includes four categorised climbs ahead of an uphill finish in Alcossebre.
Stage Four result (Escaldes – Tarragona – 198.2km)
1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 4hrs 43mins 57secs
2. Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
4. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
8. S0ren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
9. Youcef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data
10. Jetse Bol (Ned) Manzana Postobon
General classification (after Stage Four)
1. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky 13hrs 37mins 41secs
2. David de la Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors +02 secs
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing Team +02 secs
4. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team + 02 secs
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida + 10 secs
6. Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Col) Orica-Scott + 11 secs
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team + 38 secs
8. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott + 39 secs
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale + 48 secs
10. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott + 48 secs