Vuelta a Burgos (st. 4)
Movistar Team remains strong in Burgos GC –Rojas 5th, Fernández 6th, Gorka Izagirre 7th- despite late echelons on stage four in Lerma, leading to some splits at the finish uphill. Haas (DDD) wins as Meersman (EQS) leads into Saturday's seven climbs towards Lagunas de Neila's decider
In the eve of Saturday's climbing showdown, stage four of the Vuelta a Burgos brought a much shorter route than on Thursday: just 145km between the wineyard towns of Aranda de Duero and Lerma, finishing with a short, steep kick on cobbles (350m at 7% gradient). However, strong winds blowing all over the route took command at a key moment, with less than 10km to go, and caused a split into the front group, which initially left behind the Movistar Team riders. A hard, late pull by several squads brought pretty much all together before the last kilometer, which allowed the Blues making it back to the fore.
As the wear and tear of a tremendous pursuit effort put its mark on the José Luis Jaimerena-led group, the final slope -not used in the race since Iván Gutiérrez won Burgos' TT in 2006- took the Blues out of contention for the sprint, with Rubén Fernández in 16th spot as best of the Blues. Nathan Haas (DDD) claimed the day's honours as Gianni Meersman (EQS) 'stole' the jersey from Dmitriy Gruzdev's (AST) hands due to a three-second split, with only seven from the sprinters unaffected. GC-wise, the Movistar Team keeps 5-6-7 with José Joaquín Rojas, Rubén Fernández and Gorka Izagirre.
Things will be decided tomorrow at a 163km trek starting at Caleruega and covering no less than seven ascents: Cerro (Cat-3), Vilviestre (Cat-3), Collado (Cat-2, two passages, with a final 2km at 6%), Cargadero (Cat-2), Pasil de Rozavientos (Cat-1) and the 'Hors Categorie' Lagunas de Neila, with sections of even 17% into the last kilometer.
Picture ©: Vuelta a Burgos / Rocío Martínez