Vuelta a España – Stage 4 Recap

“We were hoping for a relaxed day,” said Lawson Craddock, speaking about the fourth stage of the Vuelta a España. “Most of the peloton got that. Not us.”

Team leader Rigoberto Urán, who sits third overall on the general classification, crashed twice during the 175-kilometer stage between Cullera and El Puig.

“The first crash was because it was a narrow passage in town,” sport director Juanma Garate explained. “Someone hit Rigo from the back. It was a crash without consequences. We changed the bike, and it was no problem.”

The second crash was more stressful with both Mitch Docker and Urán hitting the floor.

“Everyone on the team was behind Mitch, and Mitch touched the wheels of one rider from QuickStep,” Garate noted. “The team was moving up together, with Rigo on Mitch’s wheel. Rigo avoided the crash but then put his front wheel outside the road, and he went down, too.”

EF Education First Pro Cycling sprung into action in service of their leader.

“We did a great job, once we got the A-OK from Rigo and Juanma to carry on, to get Rigo back to the bunch,” said Craddock. “We had full commitment from the team.”

The team was able to regroup after the incident, and refocus on the plan – a plan that included an attempt to split the peloton in the closing kilometers.

“We wanted to stay as safe in the wind as possible, so we moved to the front,” said Craddock. “We executed the tactic perfectly.”

Wind conditions were not favorable to force a major split in the bunch, but it was a reduced peloton that contested the sprint. Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – QuickStep) bested Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe) in a photo finish. Urán and Sergio Higuita finished on bunch time to maintain their general classification positions.

Wednesday is the Vuelta’s first summit finish. EF Education First Pro Cycling is well-positioned ahead of the mountain challenge. Urán sits eight seconds off the overall lead, in third place, and Higuita is four seconds off the best young rider jersey, in seventh place.