Esteban Chaves came out on top on stage four of Volta a Catalunya 2021 after kicking on solo with around 7km to go on the summit finish and holding off the group of overall favourites.
Chaves (BikeExchange) managed to stay ahead of the chasing group of favourites led by Ineos Grenadiers all the way to the line with Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) leading in the chasers seven seconds later.
The pace was high all day due to the break having Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) within it, the 24-year-old German was just over a minute down in the overall standings. Ineos Grenadiers kept the chase rapid with the break eventually being caught at the bottom of the final 18.4km climb.
Ineos Grenadiers continued the pace for the entire climb with a couple of riders trying attacks, but only Chaves managed to stay away to take the stage, moving him up to sixth in the general classification.
Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) holds onto his overall lead of 45 seconds over team-mate, Richie Porte with another team-mate, Geraint Thomas, in third at 49 seconds.
How it happened
The fourth stage of the 100th Volta a Catalunya started in Ripoll before taking on three tough climbs over the 166.5km to the summit finish up Port Ainé.
A 12-man breakaway went away on the first climb of the day, the Port de Toses. The break was made up of Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Antwan Tolhoek (Jumbo-Visma), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), Clément Champoussin (Ag2r-Citroën), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Sergio Samitier (Movistar), Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma), Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), and Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo).
The break got a maximum gap of around five minutes before Ineos Grenadiers started properly chasing due to Kämna being just over a minute down on the overall leader, Yates. But Kämna decided to kick on solo on the second of the three climbs, pulling out 1-20 over the rest of the break and holding around 3-30 on the peloton.
All of the chasing riders behind Kämna were caught just before the final climb with 19km to go as the gap had dropped to 2-20 up to the German. Ineos Grenadiers continued the high pace on the Port Ainé with Rohan Dennis riding the solo Bora-Hansgrohe rider back, catching him with 14km to go on the climb.
Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) was the first rider to try and attack with 10km to go but Ineos pulled him back very easily with Richard Carapaz and Geraint Thomas working for Yates with Richie Porte also well placed.
The next to chance their arm was Esteban Chaves (BikeExchange). He started the day 1-21 down in ninth place overall, which meant that he quickly pulled out a gap of 16 seconds with 7km to go.
Enric Mas (Movistar) was the first rider who tried to attack across to Chaves with 3.5km to go, but the push on by the Spaniard only saw the gap up to the leading Colombian jump to 20 seconds.
Further attacks came with Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) trying a move, but he was unable to get a gap on his other main rivals as Thomas took over from Carapaz, quickly bring Mas back into the fold.
Porte took over the pacing just after the 2km to go mark, slowly bringing the gap down to Chaves out front. But the pacing was not enough to close in on Chaves, who took his first win of the season, and first victory since the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
That win moved him up a few places in GC but it was Yates who remained in control at the top ahead of fellow Ineos Grenadiers riders Porte and Thomas at 45 and 49 seconds respectively.
The remaining three stages of the Volta a Catalunya all suit a rider who packs more of a punch instead of pure climbing ability, as they slowly make their way to the race finish in Barcelona on Sunday.
Volta a Catalunya 2021 stage four, Ripoll to Port Ainé (166.5km)
1. Esteban Chaves (Col) Team BikeExchange, in 4-29-47
2. Michael Woods (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 7 seconds
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
4. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
5. Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma
6. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team
7. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
8. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic
10. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange, all at the same time
General classification after stage four
1. Adam Yates (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, in 14-14-15
2. Richie Porte (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 45s
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 49s
4. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-03
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe, at the same time
6. Esteban Chaves (Col) Team BikeExchange, at 1-04
7. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-07
8. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 1-20
9. Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma, 1-29
10. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, at 1-32