It may only be day four, but the peloton shall face their second summit finish of 2016’s La Vuelta a España already, though they shall be glad to see the gradients are somewhat easier compared to the previous day. The 163.5km trip from Betanzos to San Andrés de Teixido should provide the breakaway riders with another great opportunity to take a stage win before the first week is over. The first challenge of the day is the Category 3 Alto da Serra Capela (6.5km avg 4.6%), followed by another Category 3 ascent in the shape of the Alto Monte Caxado (7.3km avg 4.5%); before then dropping down rapidly and beginning a subsequent rolling section en route to the finale. The decisive Category 2 climb up to San Andrés de Teixido averages 4.8% during its 11.2km entirety, but does get harder nearer the summit as the road kicks up to over 7%. Stage 4 should be a day for the breakaway and it appears to be a case of who will win the fight to make the cut in the opening kilometres, before then hoping their luck holds right the way to the line.
Thomas De Gendt has enjoyed a successful year thus far and shall be hoping that his impressive Tour de France form shall be carried into La Vuelta a España as he pursues another grand tour stage win. He enjoys this type of terrain which avoids getting too steep and never struggles to maintain the type of effort which the peloton finds hard to counter in the last moments of the race.
Gianluca Brambilla dug deep yesterday, but should be fresh enough on Stage 4 to try and make the day’s crucial move. He has form for riding aggressively on stages like these and has already worn the leader’s red jersey as a result of his tactics during last year’s edition of the race. If he is part of a small group which is clear of the peloton on the final ascent, there is a strong chance that Brambilla will be first rider home.
Alejandro Valverde is the most likely to win from a group of general classification riders, possessing a well documented talent for uphill sprints. If the dynamic of the race results in the day’s breakaway being caught upon the final climb, then Valverde will look to pounce late on and secure another stage victory at his home tour.
It is ultimately a guessing game as to who could make the day’s key breakaway move and the start will be fast as team’s know how high the chances are of staying clear right the way to the line today. Those who have what it takes to emerge victorious on Stage 4 include; Vicente Reynes, Omar Fraile and Davide Formolo.
1st Gianluca Brambilla 2nd Thomas De Gendt 3rd Omar Fraile