Volta a Catalunya stage 4: Chaves fends off bunch in emotional solo victory
Adam Yates retains the overall lead guided by a strong Ineos Grenadiers squad that now occupies the top three places on the general classification.
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Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange) takes the mountain top win on stage 4 Volta a Catalunya.
Launching an explosive, unanswered move at 7.2km to go, the Colombian held off an elite chase group on the 2,400 meter-high finale.
“I knew the roads. I live in Andorra and I knew it was a very hard stage. I wanted to try something — I had nothing to lose and a lot to gain. There was a headwind and that was a risk, but in the end, things turned out very well,” said Chaves. “I had great legs today and felt good, and showed it with this great victory.”
Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) won the reduced bunch sprint for the line.
Chaves moves into sixth in the GC on his first win in nearly two years.
How it happened
Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) was the last man of an all-day break, surviving through the base of the final climb an ascent to Porte Ainé.
The main group was driven by Ineos Grenadiers riding in support of overall race leader Adam Yates.
Two-time world time trial champion Rohan Dennis, who won the time trial stage earlier in the week, took massive pulls, towing Richie Porte, Richard Carapaz, Geraint Thomas, and Yates.
Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) shadowed the grenadiers, with Alejandro Valverde and Enric Mas (both Movistar Team) following closely.
Dennis’ work for the day was done with 12.8km to go, and Carpaz took over leading the Yate group for the next two kilometers until he had a mechanical issue.
While Carapaz’s bike was serviced by Shimano neutral support, the Movistar riders moved to the front.
Sensing movement, Steve Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) attacked but was quickly brought back after just 1km by the Grenadiers.
Just as Carapaz made his way back to the lead group, Chaves launched an explosive move that went unanswered with only 7.5km to go.
While the Colombian had initially just 14 seconds, his advantage dropped to 11 seconds, but he found his legs again and made a big push with 3km to go.
With a 1:01 deficit on Yates at the beginning of the stage — and sitting in 8th place — all the GC contenders appeared unconcerned with the gap which had stretched to 25 seconds.
Suddenly, Mas popped off the front, and what looked like a move to set up for an attack by Valverde evaporated. Brandon McNulty (UAE-Team Emirates) was also dropped just a few meters later.
Chaves continued to tap out a tempo that looked to be untouchable in the final kilometer.
“I’m really happy. I’ve never started a season feeling so good and winning like this. It’s a WorldTour win for the team, and the first victory as BikeExchange, so I’m very happy. We’ve worked very hard. I’ve had some difficult months and years but the team has helped me a lot, as have my family, [and] my girlfriend. It’s a great satisfaction,” the Colombian climber said after his victory.
In the final few hundred meters, Woods went to the front to chase after Chaves, and the Canadian was marked by Thomas, Yates, Valverde and Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), who did what they could to limit any GC damage.
Ineos Grenadiers now occupy the entire podium at the 100th edition of this Spanish race.
What’s to come
The Volta a Catalunya stage 5 from La Pobla de Segur to Manresa (201.1km) offers more climbing, with a mid-stage cat 3 ascent, but the final 19km is a downhill run-in.
But anyone wanting a stage win or to upset the Grenadiers’ hold on the GC podium must first ascend the category 1 Port de Monserrat (7.5km at 6.5 percent grade) followed just 3km later by the Can Maçana (2.3km at 3.9 percent grade).
Results will be available once stage has completed.