Cycling

Sam Bennett sprints to victory in Vuelta stage 4 as Roglic keeps race lead

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Sam Bennett
Sam Bennett
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Ireland's Sam Bennett edged a dramatic final sprint to win stage four of the Vuelta a Espana on Friday, with Primoz Roglic maintaining the overall lead.

Bennett of Deceuninck, who won the green points jersey at the Tour de France last month, pipped Belgian Jasper Philipsen of UAE on the line by three quarters of a bike length with Italian Jakub Mareczko of CCC third.

A stage well-suited to the sprinters left the overall classification unchanged and Slovenian Roglic of Jumbo-Visma remained five seconds ahead of another Irishman, Dan Martin, who had won the third stage on Thursday.

Philipsen of UAE Team Emirates seemed to be in charge but Bennett tore past to add another stage victory to the two he won at the Vuelta last year.

"It was so fast in the run-in, I was a bit nervous," said Bennett before thanking his team for their effort at the finish. "It was fast all day but I was nervous at the end. Then in the final sprint we weren't all together. We said we needed to be and it came together when we needed it to.

"We only asked a few guys to be there and the whole team were there to support, they did an absolutely fantastic job."

After seeing off Philipsen down the final straight, Bennett said: "I had the power but when he initially went he was so explosive out of the corner I didn't know if I could catch him."

Bennett won two stages on this year's Tour de France and also had three stage wins on the 2018 Giro d'Italia.

After three challenging opening days, a flat fourth stage without any classified climbs offered some respite for the race's overall contenders, who all finished without mishap.

The 191.7 kilometres between Garray and Ejea de los Caballeros were only complicated by the weather as wind and rain accompanied the riders for much of the route.

"Every day it's cold, with wind especially and some rain," said Roglic at the start. "We have to adapt."

Roglic, the reigning Vuelta champion and favourite this year, kept his lead over Martin and remains 13 seconds ahead of Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers in third.

Britain's Harry Tanfield (AG2R-La Mondiale), Luis Angel Mate (Cofidis), Jesus Ezquerra (Burgos-BH) and Willie Smit (Burgos-BH) formed the key breakaway at the start but with 100km to go, their advantage had been reduced to two minutes.

Tanfield claimed the stage's only intermediate sprint but the quartet were all picked off by the peloton until finally Smit was the last to be caught, with Astana, Movistar, Bahrain and Sunweb all taking over up front.

Philipsen's surprise attack looked like it would be enough for victory but Bennett had just enough left in the tank.

The race resumes with stage five on Saturday, an 185.5km route with two climbs between Huesca and Sabinanigo.

Results and standings after the fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Thursday after 191.7 kilometres between Garray and Ejea de los Caballeros:

Stage

1. Sam Bennett (IRL/DQT) 3hrs 53mins 29sec., 2. Jasper Philipsen (BEL/UAE) same time., 3. Jakub Mareczko (ITA/CPT) s.t., 4. Pascal Ackermann (GER/BOH) s.t., 5.Gerben Thijssen (BEL/LTS) s.t., 6. Matteo Moschetti (ITA/TFS) s.t., 7. Max Kanter (GER/SUN) s.t., 8. Mihkel Raim (EST/ISN) s.t., 9. Emmanuel Morin (FRA/COF) s.t., 10. Magnus Cort Nielsen (DEN/EF) s.t.

Overall

1. Primoz Roglic (SLO/Jumbo) 16hrs 30min 53sec, 2. Dan Martin (IRL/ICA) at 5sec., 3. Richard Carapaz (ECU/INE) 13., 4. Enric Mas (ESP/MOV) 32., 5. Hugh Carthy (GBR/EF1) 38., 6. Sepp Kuss (USA/JUM) 44., 7. Felix Grossschartner (AUT/BOR) 1:17., 8. Esteban Chaves (COL/MIT) 1:29., 9. Marc Soler (ESP/MOV) 1:55., 10. George Bennett (NZL/JUM) 1:57

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