Vuelta a España - Moreno wins as Chavanel takes red
Wed, 24 Aug 09:20:00 2011
Katusha's Moreno made his decisive move on the final climb of the day, four kilometres from the finish of the 170-km stage through the scenic Andalucian mountains.
Moreno then outsprinted Denmark's Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) in the closing straight to secure the biggest win of his career.
The peloton containing most of the race favourites - including defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) and Britain's Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) - was led over the line by Ireland's Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) 11 seconds in arrears.
Chavanel, second in Monday's stage three, moved into the race lead despite fading in the final 2km. The Quick Step rider takes over the leader's red jersey of stage three winner Pablo Lastras after the Movistar veteran lost more than seven minutes on the final gruelling climb.
Euskaltel's Igor Anton, one of the pre-race favourites, had a day to forget. The Spaniard struggled on the long 23km first-category climb to Sierre Nevada to come home 1:38 down on stage winner Moreno and lose vital time to his GC rivals.
The stage also saw the withdrawal of British sprinter Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), who called it a day 40km from the finish to end his hopes of becoming only the fourth rider in history to win stages in each of the Grand Tours in the same year.
Vuelta a España : Stage 4
A break of seven riders - including Moreno's Katusha team-mate Eduard Vorganov - managed to jump clear of the bunch before the first test of the day, the first-category Alto de Filabres. The group managed to build up a lead of more than eight minutes after a flat mid-section of the race, putting Leopard Trek's Thomas Rohregger in the virtual race lead.
But this lead started tumbling as soon as Rabobank, Liquigas and Katusha combined to lead the chase on the front of the peloton during the third-category climb of Los Blancares.
Approaching the final test of the day, the break was reduced to just four men holding an advantage just shy of three minutes. One by one, the escapees cracked in the fierce Spanish heat, and following a little dig by Nibali, Sorensen launched an attack with 7km left to ride.
The Dane caught the last remaining escapee, France's Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2R), in the closing 4km - and the pair were soon joined by Moreno, who had countered from the streamlined peloton after being given permission by his team leader, Joaquin Rodriguez, to have a pop.
Bonnafond, a rookie 23-year-old rider competing in his first Vuelta, cracked under the 3km-to-go banner leaving Moreno and Sorensen to battle it out for the spoils as the bunch bore down.
Inside the closing 500m, 29-year-old Moreno showed his strength with a decisive dig to lay the chances of Sorensen to rest. Moreno finished the stage in a time of four hours 51 minutes and 53 seconds to move into second place in the overall standings, 43 seconds behind Chavanel.
Moreno's excellent day was complete when he also moved above Lastras in the king of the mountains standings.
But it was not all doom and gloom for deposed overnight leader Lastras: the Spaniard may have lost both the red and polka dot jerseys, but he will wear the green points jersey on Wednesday for the hilly 187-km stage five from Sierra Nevada to Valdepenas de Jaen.Felix Lowe / Eurosport