The Mitchelton-Scott pro simply rode away from his GC rivals on the summit finale of stage 4, but he wasn’t really trying to send out a message. He simply wanted to show that he can attack as well. And suddenly, he was alone and no one dared to follow him.

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“I didn’t mean to. I’m not trying to be cocky or anything, it was just one of those things and when I tried once, I got away. It looks like I have gained the time I lost in the other part of the race, in the prologue and the other day with the little kicker, so yeah, it was a good day,” Yates told reporters after the stage finish.

He took back 27 seconds on leader Michal Kwiatkowski and moved from ninth place to third. The Team Sky pro managed to stay in the red, but only just held off Emanuel Buchman from Bora-Hansgrohe, who also bolted from the GC pack.

“I still had something left in the tank and thought why not try. I think a lot of guys still have their sights on Rafa [Rafael Majka, Emanuel’s teammate] and that was my advantage,” Buchmann said after moving from third to second, just 7 seconds behind Kwiatkowski.

Team Sky is still in the lead, but they aren’t nearly as strong as they were during their Giro d’Italia and Tour de France triumphs. Kwiatkowski still rode well enough to wear the red jersey in today’s transition stage.

“We expected other teams to put pressure on the final climb, and that’s how it turned out with Lotto-Jumbo. I am not the most dangerous rider in the GC: Quintana, Valverde, Bennett, Buchmann, they are the ones who have to put pressure if they want to win the Vuelta. They need to take time on these summit finishes. The scenario was perfect for me. I wasn’t interested in chasing down the break, but rather keep the leader’s jersey on the final climb. In this regard, I can only say that I am happy to still have the jersey,” Kwiatkowski said.

The happiest guy in the peloton was, however, Ben King from Dimension Data. The American broke away from the day’s main break just before the final climb and managed to claim his first-ever Grand Tour stage win.

Vuelta a España stage 4

1 Benjamin King (Dimension Data) in 4-33-12
2 Nikita Stalnov (Astana Pro Team) + 2s
3 Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) + 13s
4 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Cofidis) + 1:08
5 Ben Gastauer (AG2R La Mondiale) + 1:39
6 Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) + 1:57
7 Oscar Cabedo Carda (Burgos BH) + 2:24
8 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) + 2:48
9 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) + 2:50
10 Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) + 3:07

GC after stage 4

1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in 13-47-19
2 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) + 7s
3 Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) + 10s
4 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) + 12s
5 Wilco Kelderman (Team Sunweb) + 25s
6 Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) + 30s
7 Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) + 33s
8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) + 33s
9 Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) + 37s
10 Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) + 42s

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