Katusha's Daniel Moreno won the first of the six summit finishes that feature in the 2011 Vuelta on the Sierra Nevada this afternoon, on a day when defending points jersey champion Mark Cavendish, who has clearly been struggling with the heat, abandoned the race. SaxoBank-SunGard's Chris Anker Sorensen was second, with Garmin-Cervelo\'s Dan Martin third. Overnight leader Pablo Lastras of Movistar and overall favourite Igor Anton were among others to have struggled today. Sylvain Chavanel of Quick Step is the new race leader.
Yesterday, Cavendish appeared to be in difficulties as the temperature hit 40 degrees Celsius. It was cooler today, but a Category 1 climb that began right at the start of the stage was probably the last thing that the HTC-Highroad rider and others who have been trying to cope with what has turned out to be a tough start to the year’s final Grand Tour needed.
It’s not clear at what point the defending points classification champion, who has been strongly linked with a move to Team Sky, actually abandoned the race, with the news communicated by host broadcasters TVE with around 35 kilometres left to ride. HTC-Highroad, participating in its final Grand Tour, had already seen Australian sprinter Matt Goss depart the race on Sunday’s Stage 1.
Cavendish’s abandonment clearly disrupts his planned build-up for the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen next month. One option might be for him to ride the Tour of Britain, although given the one-day overlap between that race and the Vuelta, he would need dispensation from the UCI to do so.
A more surprising struggler today was the favourite for the overall win, Igor Anton of Euskaltel-Euskadi who was dropped from the group containing the main GC contenders early on during the final climb of the Sierra Nevada.
Anton had crashed out of the Vuelta 12 months ago while in the race leader’s jersey, and the ma who finished the race in red, Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas-Cannondale, was among those who sought to test his rivals on that last ascent of the day.
Up ahead, Chris Anker Sorensen of Saxo Bank-SunGard and Robert Kiserlovoski from Astana had got off the front of the main group and caught the five survivors of a seven man breakaway group that had attacked on the day’s first climb, the Category 1 Alto de Filabres.
That group had comprised AG2R’s Guillaume Bonnafond, Matthew Bushe of RadioShack, Leopard Trek’s Thomas Rohregger, the Cofidis rider Yohan Bagot, Katusha’s Eduard Vorganov, Koen De Kort from Skil Shimano and the sole Spanish representative, Jose Vicente Toribio from Andalucia Caja Granada.
The latter team were riding on home roads today and another Spanish team, Movistar, who in yesterday’s stage winner Pablo Lastras had the man who topped all four jersey classifications – the overall, points, mountain and combination competitions – also had an incentive to put on a show today, with the stage finish just yards from the site of the accident that claimed the life of Xavier Tondo three months ago.
Neither, however, would figure in the finale. As Sorensen passed the breakaway group, he left Kiserlovoski behind, and although Bonnafond briefly managed to latch onto his wheel, he too fell away just as Katusha rider, Daniel Moreno bridged across to the Dane.
Coming under the flamme rouge, the pair had an advantage of just 15 seconds over the chasing group, led now by Team Sky’s Chris Froome with Bradley Wiggins tucked right in behind him.
The two escapees managed to stay away, however, with the 29-year-old Moreno biding his time before nipping past the Dane on the approach to the line to take the biggest win of his career.
Vuelta Stage 4 Result 1 MORENO, Daniel Katusha 4h 51' 53'' 2 SÖRENSEN, Chris Saxo Bank-SunGard + 3'' 3 MARTIN, Daniel Garmin-Cervelo + 11'' 4 RODRIGUEZ, Joaquin Katusha + 11'' 5 NIEMIEC, Przemyslaw Lampre-ISD + 11'' 6 LAGUTIN, Sergey Vacansoleil-DCM + 11'' 7 VAN DEN BROECK, Jurgen Omega Pharma-Lotto + 11'' 8 POELS, Wouter Vacansoleil-DCM + 11'' 9 SCARPONI, Michele Lampre-ISD + 11'' 10 MOLLEMA, Bauke Rabobank + 11'' 11 SIVTSOV, Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad + 11'' 12 NIBALI, Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale + 11'' 13 NIEVE, Mikel Euskaltel-Euskadi + 11'' 14 BRAJKOVIC, Janez RadioShack + 11'' 15 ZUBELDIA, Haimar RadioShack + 11'' 16 MENCHOV, Denis Geox-TMC + 11'' 17 KRUIJSWIJK, Steven Rabobank + 11'' 18 WIGGINS, Bradley Team Sky + 11'' 19 KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik Astana + 11'' 20 SÁNCHEZ, Luis León Rabobank + 11'' Vuelta Overall Standings after Stage 4 1 CHAVANEL, Sylvain Quick Step 13h 19' 09'' 2 MORENO, Daniel Katusha + 43'' 3 FUGLSANG, Jakob Leopard Trek + 49'' 4 MONFORT, Maxime Leopard Trek + 49'' 5 NIBALI, Vincenzo Liquigas-Cannondale + 53'' 6 SIVTSOV, Kanstantsin HTC-Highroad + 58'' 7 KESSIAKOFF, Fredrik Astana + 59'' 8 PARDILLA, Sergio Movistar + 1' 03'' 9 BRUSEGHIN, Marzio Movistar + 1' 03'' 10 SEELDRAYERS, Kevin Quick Step + 1' 04''
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.