So, stage three showed us the first proper sprint and stage four will either shake up or cement the sprint pecking order for the rest of the race. Fernando Gaviria struggled on the climb and Fabio Jakobsen wasn’t quite there in the sprint as Sam Bennett took a win that looked routine. A second crap of the whip beckons on an even more sprinter-friendly day, with only one categorised climb to negotiate.
If any stage is going to end in a sprint for the rest of this Vuelta, it’s going to be this one. Rain is certain but strong winds unlikely and hence, there’s very little to talk about other than the eventual kick to the finish. Sam Bennett accelerated right up to the finish and looked imperious in doing so as he cements his place among the top sprinters in the world, but there are top guys to fight him for this stage win. Fernando Gaviria is in serious trouble and it looks like he won’t be competing at the top level for the rest of what has been a torrid year for him. Fabio Jakobsen, however, is more likely to improve to a place where he can challenge Bennett. However, I think second is the best he can manage. Luka Mezgec should get another third place.
Jersey watch will have some movement. Nairo Quintana holds the green jersey for stage four although it will be his last time to do so for at least a while, with Bennett on the same number of points as him. Nicolas Roche will keep the Irishness of this Vuelta off the charts by keeping his red jersey for at least another stage. Angel Madrazo has a big enough lead in the mountains classification to be secure and the youth classification (which I had totally forgotten replaced the combination classification, apologies) will of course stay with Miguel Angel Lopez.