Ruben Guerreiro lines-up Saudi Tour GC victory with stage 4 win

Portuguese rider outsprinted rivals following steep climb to the finish on stage four

Saudi Tour stage 4 2023: Ruben Guerreiro wins
(Image credit: Alex Broadway / Getty)

Ruben Guerreiro took hold of the lead of the Saudi Tour with a punchy performance in a three-up sprint.

The front riders had separated themselves on the the double figure gradients of the climb to Harrat Uwayrid.

The Movistar rider is now the clear favourite to win the race’s overall title as there is merely a sprint into Maraya, which should pose no difficulties for the climber.

The Portuguese rider wasn’t the first to attack on the 20% plus slopes on the lead up to the finish line but he did apply consistent pressure to separate himself alongside Davide Formolo (UAE-Emirates) and Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious). 

Guerreiro told GCN: “Today was really hard, really tough. Me and my team-mates did the climb in training but we didn’t know how the legs would be after a stage of wind and stress.

He added: “This is my first time at this race and I think the secret is to wait, wait, wait. You need to wait during the week, in this stage and also in the climb. I had good legs but you can’t go first.”

Guerreiro, who joined Movistar this season, dedicated his win to the staff of his team and his family and very graciously also gave thanks to his former team EF Education - EasyPost.

The GC leader added: “[Today] I didn’t think about the jersey I was super focused on crossing the line first. I think we have a good team and we’ll be really focused for tomorrow.”

Formolo, who now sits second on GC, eight seconds back, appeared sanguine. He said: “The pace on the climb wasn’t enough for me so I tried to speed up a bit but I couldn’t make a real gap.” Buitrago sits third, just  further second behind.

With the possibility for winds and the time gaps small some of the more powerful riders like sprinters Cees Bol (Astana Qazaqstan) and Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) may fancy their chances of overhauling the Movistar leader.

How it happened

Early in the stage the break of Felix Engelhardt (Jayco AlUla), Antonio Barac (Corratec), Muhamad Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff (Terengganu Polygon), Nickolas Zukowsky (Q36.5) built a lead that stood at around two minutes when TV kicked in.

From 70km to go they were never in any real danger of winning the stage as Bahrain Victorious and Uno-X did the bulk of the pace setting.

As the race hit the lower slopes of the climb UAE Emirates set a strong pace for Formolo, he would be the first to accelerate in anger as the gradients hung around the 20% mark but Guerreiro and Buitrago were equal to it.

As they crested the climb the Portuguese rider piled on the pressure and crossed the sprint point for bonus seconds first.

The front three were joined by Formolo’s team-mate Felix Großschartner as they crossed the plateau towards the finish line. That somewhat annoyed Buitrago as Formolo had opted to sit on the back to make it happen.

But the Austrian was of no real factor in the final sprint which Buitrago led-out only to see both his rivals come round him.

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Having trained as a journalist at Cardiff University I spent eight years working as a business journalist covering everything from social care, to construction to the legal profession and riding my bike at the weekends and evenings. When a friend told me Cycling Weekly was looking for a news editor, I didn't give myself much chance of landing the role, but I did and joined the publication in 2016. Since then I've covered Tours de France, World Championships, hour records, spring classics and races in the Middle East. On top of that, since becoming features editor in 2017 I've also been lucky enough to get myself sent to ride my bike for magazine pieces in Portugal and across the UK. They've all been fun but I have an enduring passion for covering the national track championships. It might not be the most glamorous but it's got a real community feeling to it.