The 4th stage of the Volta a Catalunya was shortened by 60 kilometers due to inclement weather at the original starting town of Llivia. The stage then came down to a smaller bunch sprint which Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) won comfortably, ahead of Davide Cimolai (FDJ) and Daryl Impey (Orica-Scott).
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had high hopes for Kristian Sbaragli today after the Italian’s fast finishing 3rd place on stage 1. When an early break of 5 riders went clear, our African Team were happy to commit riders to the chase and Daniel Teklehaimanot did a lot of work at the head of the race.
The stage finale contained to 2 short sharp kickers, the final climb being the toughest at 3km in length with an average gradient just under 6%. It was here our African Team moved to the head of the race in numbers in order to set a good pace for Sbaragli to make it over the top with the leaders. Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Ben O’Connor led on the lower slopes but an attack by Astana awoke the GC favourites.
Attacks then followed by Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Dan Martin (Quickstep) which caused Orica-Scott to start chasing at a frantic pace. Sbaragli wasn’t able to settle into this rhythm of the climbers and when Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attacked over the top of the climb, it left our African Team with no further options in the leading group.
On the final downhill run to the line, all attackers were caught by the Orica-Scott led peloton but this played into the hands of Bouhanni who was the only outright sprinter to make it into the reduced group over the top of the climb. The Frenchman took a comfortable win while our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders came home in the 3rd group, just over 1-minute down on Bouhanni.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
It was a shorter stage due to the cold and snow which maybe made the race more difficult. We had planned the stage for Kristian and to do the final sprint with him. From the start we controlled it in such a way to not let a big group go away. 5 riders reached a maximum of 3-minutes. FDj, Cofidis, Lotto-Soudal and us, with Daniel, all sent 1 rider to control the gap. We started the climb in front to set the pace for Kristian but then Orica quickly took over. Unfortunately Kristian didn’t have the legs to stay in the front group today and contest the sprint.