Jens Voigt (Saxo Bank) clinched the 62nd victory of his career in a powerful uphill sprint against Estonia’s Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) in stage four of the Tour of Catalonia. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) remains overall leader.
Voigt was able to secure the win after breaking away on the second ascent of a second category climb close to the finish in the town of Ascó.
Joined by Taaramae closer to the summit, after Kreuziger lost contact on a dangerous corner, the two tackled the fast descent into Ascó with less than a minute’s advantage on a two-dozen strong group of chasers. Then in a steepish uphill charge, Voigt easily saw off the Estonian.
For Voigt the victory was his first since his terrible crash in last year’s Tour de France at speeds of 80 kmh on an Alpine stage, fracturing his cheekbone and suffering severe concussion. He later said his helmet had saved his life.
“I don’t really think about it that much, to be honest it’s more important that I have won at least one race every year of my career – and this is my thirteenth,” Voigt – now a sprightly 38 – said later.
“It was a good sprint for me – hard, uphill and one where I could use all my power. It worked out well for me.”
With more than half of Catalonia now behind them, Rodriguez remains in control but with only a slender 10 second advantage over stage three winner Xavi Tondo (Cervélo).
Stage five from Ascó to Cabaces is probably the hardest day the Katusha pro will face. With barely a metre of flat and a second category climb close to the finish, Rodriguez described the final run-in to Cabaces as ‘lethal’. Should he come through intact, though, the Spaniard can start thinking about his first stage race victory since the (now defunct) Catalan Week back in 2003.
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage four: Oliana-Ascó
1. Jens Voigt (Ger) Team Saxo Bank 209.7km in 4-43-28
2. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at same time
3. Paul Voss (Ger) Milram at 34secs
4. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Transitions
5. David Loosli (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
6. Jeremy Roy (Fra) Francaise des Jeux
7. Josep Jufre (Spa) Astana
8. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Liquigas-Doimo
10. Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at same time
32. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at same time
137. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 17-37
159. Charly Wegelius (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at same time
Overall classification after stage four
1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha in 13-48-14
2. Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervelo at 10secs
3. Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis at 46secs
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 48secs
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2r La Mondiale at 1-20
6. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo at 1-20
7. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Transitions at 1-20
8. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo at 1-22
9. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Transitions at 1-24
10. Janez Brajkovic (Slo) RadioShack at 1-25
47. Steve Cummings (GB) Team Sky at 4-10
129. Charly Wegelius (GB) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 37-29
152. Mark Cavendish (GB) HTC-Columbia at 45-04
Mark Cavendish cosies up to the Sky team car
Jens Voigt leads the escape group
Garmin give chase
Fans’ favourite Jens Voigt takes the stage
Joaquin Rodriguez maintains his overall lead
Stage three: Tondo take stage, Rodriguez moves into lead
Stage three photo gallery
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage two: Cavendish takes first win of season
Stage two photo gallery
Tour of Catalonia 2010, stage one: Voss takes surprise win
Illness forces Wiggins out of Tour of Catalonia
Tour of Catalonia 2010 preview
Cycling Weekly’s all-time list of British pro winners