Local champion Higuita wins stage, takes Tour Colombia lead

Cycling (File)
Cycling (File)

Santa Rosa de Viterbo - Rising star Sergio Higuita beat Tour de France champion Egan Bernal into second on Friday to claim victory on the fourth stage of the Tour Colombia and move into the overall lead.

The Colombian national road race champion timed his attack to perfection on the third category climb to the finish of the 169km stage from Paipa to Santa Rosa de Viterbo, with Bernal settling for second and French star Julian Alaphilippe third.

It was a repeat of the Colombian road race result earlier this month when Higuita pipped Bernal.

Higuita said he "sprinted with my heart to the end".

At just 22, a year younger than Bernal, Higuita is quickly making a name for himself and last year won a stage at the Vuelta a Espana before finishing 14th overall.

On the back of two successive sprint stages, Friday's finishing climb gave the overall contenders a chance to shine but also pitted pure climbers like Higuita against puncheurs like Alaphilippe in a thrilling battle.

Bernal's Ineos team took up the pace leading into the final climb and on its lower slopes as he and Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz looked to gain back some of the 46 seconds they lost to Higuita's EF Pro Cycling squad on Tuesday's opening team time-trial.

"We tried to make the race hard, we worked a lot," said Bernal.

As the leading group quickly dwindled on the climb, Martinez hit the deck in a moment of inattention with 4km to ride, although he rapidly caught the leaders.

Carapaz launched hostilities two kilometres from the line and built up a sizeable advantage.

Alaphilippe closed the gap and went past the Ecuadoran but with a few hundred metres left he ran out of steam, allowing Higuita to surge past.

Bernal had been on Higuita's wheel but simply didn't have the legs to haul him in and his Colombian compatriot even had time to sit up and celebrate his victory as he crossed the line.

Higuita started the day second, but on the same time as team-mates Daniel Martinez and overnight leader Jonathan Caicedo.

He now leads by 13sec to Martinez and 16sec to Caicedo with Bernal fourth at 50sec.

"We have a really strong team, today the team controlled the race perfectly," said Higuita.

Saturday's penultimate stage is over 180km from Paipa to Zipaquira, Bernal's adopted home.

The entire six-day tour is raced at above 2 500m with Sunday's finale ending on the climb to the Puerto de El Verjon at 3 290m.

Results from the 169km fourth stage of the Tour Colombia from Paipa to Santa Rosa de Viterbo on Friday:

1. Sergio Higuita (COL) EF Pro Cycling 3hrs 58min 47sec, 2. Egan Bernal (COL) Team Ineos same time, 3. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Deceuninck-Quick Step at 2sec, 4. Daniel Martinez (COL) EF Pro Cycling 3, 5. Torstein Traen (NOR) Uno-X Norwegian Dev Team 4, 6. Richard Carapaz (ECU) Team Ineos s.t., 7. Miguel Florez (COL) Androni Giocattoli s.t., 8. Jonathan Caicedo (ECU) EF Pro Cycling 6, 9. Esteban Chaves (COL) Colombian national team s.t., 10. Fredy Montana (COL) EPM-Scott s.t.

Seclected others:

13. Fabio Aru (ITA) UAE Team Emirates 21

Overall standings:

1. Sergio Higuita (COL) EF Pro Cycling 11hrs 25min 47sec, 2. Daniel Martinez (COL) EF Pro Cycling 13, 3. Jonathan Caicedo (ECU) EF Pro Cycling 16, 4. Egan Bernal (COL) Team Ineos 50, 5. Richard Carapaz (ECU) Team Ineos 1:00, 6. Fredy Montana (COL) EPM-Scott 1:16, 7. Aldemar Reyes (COl) EPM-Scott 1:28, 8. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally Cycling 1:30, 9. Sergio Henao (COL) Team Ineos 1:31, 10. Fabio Aru (ITA) UAE Team Emirates s.t.

Selected others:

28. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Deceuninck-Quick Step 2:30

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