Sam Bennett took his first chance at victory with a powerful sprint finish on stage four of the Vuelta a España 2020.
Jasper Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) took it up very early but Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) got into his slipstream and flew past the Belgian in the last 25 metres with Jakub Mareczko (CCC Team) came in third.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) remains in red after a fairly uneventful day for the Slovenian rider with Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) staying just five seconds behind.
How it happened
Stage four started in Garray Numancia before taking in a relatively benign day with a few hills early on before becoming very flat for the finish on a 191.7km course finishing in Ejea de los Caballeros.
Just four riders went up the road with British rider, Harry Tanfield (Ag2r La Mondiale) making his Grand Tour debut, he was joined by Luis Ángel Maté (Cofidis) with a Burgos-BH duo of Jesus Esquerra and Willem Smit.
The break was almost caught with 120km to go so the peloton slowed up again, they got a maximum gap of 3-40 before then. It then went back to just over two minutes before the pace went up again with Movistar drilling it with 95km to go.
The wind started to whip up and the peloton were hitting speeds of 80km/h on the flat as they tried to split the race to bits.
They didn’t manage it, but the first half of the stage’s average speed was 52km/h before knocking it off again with 87km to go, letting the break pull out the gap again.
After that the wind died down again and the sprinters teams took back control of the peloton with Trek-Segafredo, Bora-Hansgrohe and Dececuninck - Quick-Step on the front.
Up front, the breakaway pulled out the gap back just over two minutes with 60km to go and the race settled down before the final.
As the race got closer to the finish the break began to be brought back yet again with the general classification teams leading the way with 30km to go.
With the peloton coming up to the break, Tanfield went on the attack and took the intermediate sprint with Smit bridging across and then going over the top to try and be the last man with 23km to go.
Smit did indeed make it as the man out front but was caught with 14km to go with all the GC and sprint teams battling for the lead of the peloton.
Bora-Hansgrohe took control as they came into town before Caja-Rural and NTT Pro Cycling started pacing but Deceuninck - Quick-Step took full control with 3km to go with a full lead out.
Philipsen launched first but Bennett was straight into the wheel and flew passed the UAE Team Emirates sprinter with Mareczko finishing quickly in third ahead of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who was left struggling to get up to speed.
Roglič gets another day in red as the peloton head back to the hills for stage five and six before the first rest day.
Vuelta a España 2020, stage four: Garray Numancia to Ejea de los Caballeros (191.7km)
1. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, in 3-53-29
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
3. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
4. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
6. Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Max Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb
8. Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Start-Up Nation
9. Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis
10. Magnus Cort (Den) EF Pro Cycling, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, in 16-30-53
2. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 5 seconds
3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers, at 13s
4. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar Team, at 32s
5. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 38s
6. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 44s
7. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-17
8. Esteban Cháves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1-29
9. Marc Soler (Esp) Movistar Team, at 1-55
10. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-57
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