The flat plains of the Netherlands gave way to the Basque region of Spain for stage 4 of this year’s La Vuelta. The first 3 stages were all about the sprinters with the time trial and non mountainous stage 2 and 3 won by Sam Bennett. The third and last of the cycling Grand Tour was 152 km from Vitoria-Gasteiz to La Guardia, 5 climbs to test the calf muscles and endurance. Defending Champ Primoz Roglic is on the other side of 30 in terms of age, so there was much doubt as to whether he can repeat the trick especially after a nasty crash at the Tour De France. He answered that in style beating Mans Pederson(Denmark) and Enric Mas(Spain) to lay the marker and seize overall control of the standings. Now, people may wonder if it is worth it to go for the polka dot jersey during the race. This is the jersey awarded to the guy who conquers the mountain stages, either going to the summit first or getting past certain points of the climb first.
There is psychological advantages to winning the intermediate mountain races as well as Primoz showed defending champ Alaphilippe with 15km to go, getting three bonus seconds to boot. Mountain racing is a team effort. Teammates need to help the leader get there by pulling the competing riders away as Mads Pederson’s Trek Segrafado teammate tried to in the final climb sprint. It’s all about timing and unfortunately, Trek did it late. Primoz was on them staying a wheel ahead as close to barrier as possible. Stage 5 will have more climbing to do for the riders. Well, Sam Bennett at least holds on to the Green , chances are he will too then.