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The Daily Race: Vuelta a España Stage 4

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Vuelta a España Podium Cafe

Stage 4: Málaga — Valdepeñas de Jaén

What is it? Bumpy.
Got Climbs? Indeed it does. Three categorized climbs and an uphill finish.
Red Jersey Battle: It's on today. The final kilometer hits gradients in the 15% range.
Ideal Rider: Vincenzo Nibali. Young, aggressive, can climb, wants to win. Simple.
@Gavia: Plainly, they do not want us to be bored with this Vuelta. Climbs! More climbs!

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The stage departs Málaga and after a brief jaunt along the coast, turns inland at Torre del Mar. There the terrain turns bumpy as the Vuelta races against the grain of Spain's southern coastal ranges. The stage finishes in Valdepeñas de Jaén near the Sierra Sur. Three categorized climbs enliven the proceedings. The final climb of the day, the Alto de Valdepeñas de Jaén summits with just 8 kilometers left to race. For added fun, the final kilometer is uphill and reaches gradients of 15%. Muy exigente, as the locals say. None of these climbs are especially difficult, and the final climb, the Alto de Valdepeñas de Jaén is a category 2. Still, a bad day could lose a race favorite some precious time, especially on the steep ramps of the finish. Certainly, it's a nice spot for one of the bigs to grab an early advantage. Someone will attack.

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A Win for Anton!

Igor Anton celebrated victory today after attacking on the steep 23% gradients of the final climb. The Euskaldi-Euskaltel rider quickly opened up a solid gap over the lead group which included Joaquím Rodríguez, Vincenzo Nibali, and Philippe Gilbert. Rodríguez, in particular, has made a specialty of steep finishes like this one, but he could not answer Anton's well-timed attack, which netted the Basque his second ever stage victory. Vincenzo Nibali finished second followed by Rodríguez and Gilbert. Also of note, first time grand tour rider Tejay van Garderen finished fourth behind Gilbert. Gilbert continues to wear the Red Jersey of race leader with Anton and Nibali both close behind at 10 seconds down. Anton, meanwhile, takes over the lead in the Points. The Vuelta, so not a sprinters' party.

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