Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) overhauled Juan Sebastián Molano (UAE Team Emirates) at the death in a scintillating sprint as Stage 4 of the 2023 Vuelta a España arrived in Tarragona.
An action-packed run-in was marked by multiple crashes in the final kilometers, with multiple riders caught out by sharp, weaving bends on the final drag to the finish line.
However, Australia’s Groves timed his effort to perfection to pick off Molano right at the line on an excellent day for Alpecin-Deceuninck.
High-Profile victims in late crashes
In a Vuelta already marred by crashes and safety issues, a serious crash at 5 km to go claimed two high-profile victims in stage favorite Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) and Bahrain Victorious leader Santiago Buitrago.
The crash occurred as the peloton attempted to navigate between a concrete reservation and a closed-off slip road, resulting in a sharp pinch that caused wheels to touch and riders to go flying.
Coquard was able to stand following the incident and appeared capable of continuing, but Buitrago’s injuries looked more severe as the Colombian was left sprawled across the tarmac.
It was initially unclear whether Buitrago would be able to finish the stage, but it later emerged that he finished the line just 2 minutes 22 seconds down – a remarkable recovery given how serious his injuries appeared to be.
Coquard, however, is rumored to have fractured his collarbone and is likely to withdraw before Stage 5.
Then, in the final kilometer, Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) was caught out by a poorly placed barrier that sharpened deceptively – and unnecessarily – out of sight of the apex.
The crash will be all the more frustrating for the young Dutchman given how well-positioned he was, leading the pack as they wound up for the sprint finish.
The nature of the two crashes will do nothing to ease criticism of the Vuelta organizers over the safety issues that have plagued the race in the opening week.
“my team was fantastic today – super aggressive and always there on time”
Stage winner Kaden Groves was full of praise for his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates as he won his second Vuelta a España stage, and first of the 2023 edition.
“It was actually a really hard day, with only dsm and ourselves to control it”, he said at the finish line.
“I had to use two guys just to control the breakaway and we used a lot of energy. But my team was fantastic today – super aggressive and always there on time. It paid off with the victory.
“Sebastián [Molano] went full from the bottom with 350 meters to go, and I was luckily patient enough and strong enough to close the gap with around 100 meters to go. I was confident I could pass him because he led out from very early.
“On a finish like that, which is super tough and long, I thought he would have to be on a really good day to beat me.”
Sprinters reload for Stage 5
However, the Category 2 Collado de la Ibola situated 50 km from the finish and the prospect of gusting crosswinds offers slightly more for a potential breakaway to get their teeth into.
Don’t be surprised if many of the peloton’s rouleurs conserved their energy today in preparation for Stage 5, viewing it as the more promising opportunity to steal a win from the sprinters.
Vuelta a España 2023: Stage 4 Results
- GROVES Kaden (AUS/Alpecin-Deceuninck): 4:05:41
- MOLANO Juan Sebastián (COL/UAE Team Emirates): Same time
- THEUNS Edward (BEL/Lidl-Trek):
- MENTEN Milan (BEL/Lotto-Dstny):
- VAN GESTEL Dries (BEL/TotalEnergies):
- AULAR Orluis (VEN/Caja Rural-Seguros RGA):
- PAGE Hugo (FRA/Intermarché-Circus-Wanty):
- ASKEY Lewis (GBR/Groupama-FDJ):
- FLYNN Sean (GBR/dsm-firmenich):
- VENDRAME Andrea (ITA/AG2R Citroën): + 0:06
Vuelta a España 2023: General Classification Standings after Stage 4
- EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-Quick Step): 12:48:58
- MAS Enric (SPA/Movistar): + 0:05
- MARTINEZ Lenny (FRA/Groupama-FDJ): + 0:15
- VINGEGAARD Jonas (DEN/Jumbo-Visma): + 0:31
- VLASOV Aleksandr (BORA-hansgrohe): + 0:33
- UIJTDEBROEKS Cian (BEL/BORA-hansgrohe: + 0:37
- BARDET Romain (FRA/dsm-firmenich): + 0:39
- ROGLIČ Primož (SLO/Jumbo-Visma): + 0:41
- AYUSO Juan (SPA/UAE Team Emirates): + 0:42
- SOLER Marc (SPA/UAE Team Emirates) + 0:46
Vuelta a España Jerseys after Stage 4
EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-Quick Step)
GROVES Kaden (AUS/Alpecin-Deceuninck)
SEPÚLVEDA Eduardo (ARG/Lotto-Dstny)
EVENEPOEL Remco (BEL/Soudal-Quick Step)