Vuelta a España Stage 4 Preview
Sam Bennett took a dominant win in Alicante in front of Edward Theuns and Luka Mezgec in a fast sprint after a rough stage. The pace was high throughout the day and on the climb Jumbo took it up, sprinters including Jakobsen, Walscheid and Gaviria were dropped, and the latter one wasn't able to come back. The run-up to Alicante was very fast, Jumbo was very active in front but it was for the sprinters in the end, Sunweb lead the final kilometer but it was Trek who leadout in the end but Bennett was well above the competition and took the win.
Positive: Bennett the obvious choice, getting that win, but Trek like in BinckBank showed an excellent leadout to Theuns, he just didn't have the finish power.
Negative: Gaviria was the big defeated today, his climbing is still very sub-par to what we knew of him and he lost one of the few opportunities he had. Jakobsen came back after the climb but Deceuninck's leadout was just not there at all, Richeze even finished ahead of him.
Stage 4 should be another fast one, to the satisfaction of many. It will be raced around the roads of Valencia and it's one of the flattest stages of the whole race. Most of the stage is actually flat which isn't as normal in the usually rugged roads, there will be a bump in the road with a bit over 40 kilometers to go with the Puerto del Oronet which is around 5Km at 5%, it's a rollable climb and shouldn't have an influence on the outcome, however I thought the same of today and the Puerto de Tibi was also really pushed, if the same happens here it's possible to again make some damage.
There's a very dangerous section right after the climb. It is set to be raining heavily throughout the day, the roads are sure to be very wet and this descent presents a lot of blind corners and is very fast. It will be a very tense moment and the teams will be aware of it, the question is wether something will happen or not.
It's a tricky finish also, there are lots of roundabouts in the closing kilometers and the road narrows a lot in those final meters. Things will be stringed out a lot so leadout is vital, and a good leadout will put the sprinter in prime position in that final tight section.
Storm! There will be a storm going through Valencia tomorrow, an horrible amount of rain, 15mm per hour at a point right around halfway through the stage, it isn't something that will be safe, I don't know just what may happen because of that. As for the wind it will come from the northeast, a headwind for most of the day with some force but not excessive. Will come as a tailwind for the final section of the stage.
Well the men we saw today are the men we'll see tomorrow right? That's the idea, there are few actual sprint stages so that will be even more of a motivation, risks will be taken in order to take the opportunity and with Bennett's dominance seeming to emerge again it can be an all against him.
Bennett, again, wasn't leadout by his teammates, but both Drucker and Archbold were there and got him right where he needed to be, it's hard to go away without him being back in the wheel, he is brilliant at positioning at this point. On the other side, there is Jakobsen which has a big leadout, and it may come as an advantage tomorrow despite today not having worked out at all.
Since I'm mentioning leadouts I will have a big ups for Trek and Sunweb, the best teams today in that sense and there's no reason to believe they can't do the same tomorrow. Theuns was only beaten by Bennett, Walscheid sadly was blocked and ended up outside the Top10 but the team did what was needed. Luka Mezgec, Jon Aberasturi and Phil Bauhaus were in the Top5 too, they are big names to consider for tomorrow in the top placings as they shown today to have the legs, the French were caught out of position but tomorrow will suit Venturini better, as for Sarreau it's just about nailing the positioning but he has some dificulties with it.
Gaviria, well, he will need better legs, but luckily for him the climb isn't that hard tomorrow but the fighting for positioning for the summit may be deadly for him. I do think his crash took some out of him but since he joined UAE his climbing as just been completely off, however if he goes through the climb than I believe his chances. CCC will keep the trio aproach I assume, although Sajnok was their option today, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cyril Barthe will be the final outsider bets for tomorrow.
⭐ Walscheid, Aberasturi, Bauhaus, Venturini, Sarreau
Should I go with Bennett again, maybe, but I'm going with a different option for tomorrow in Jakobsen. I think Deceuninck didn't work well today but that's because it was a very fast and bunched up sprint, they couldn't take advantage of their power, but tomorrow is a finish where it will be a lot more stringed out and I see Richeze able to put him where he needs to be. He has the power, just lacks some experience which is still normal at his age.
Make sure to let me in on your opinion, and of course follow me on twitter for the latest updates!