American rider Tejay Van Garderen of the BMC team won Thursday’s fourth stage of the Tour of Catalonia as Belgian Bart de Clerq took the overall leader’s jersey.
Van Garderen, 26, clocked 5hr 6min 36sec after the 188.4km ride between Tona and the ski resort of La Molina to finish three seconds ahead of Australian Richie Porte with Spaniard Alberto Contador third, at eight seconds.
Lotto rider de Clerq took the overall race lead from France’s Pierre Rolland ahead of Friday’s 195.4km fifth stage between Alp and Valls.
Britain’s 2013 Tour de France winner Christopher Froome struggled on the stage, finishing 28 minutes behind the leaders and now sits 67th in the overall standings.
Overnight leader Rolland caved in on the climb to La Creueta, the stage’s summit 42km from the line.
The stage was decided in the final six kilometres, when Cannondale’s Tom Danielson and Australia’s Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) took the lead — the final survivors of a long breakaway from the start of the stage.
The two were quickly reeled in by Belorussian Vasil Kiriyenka of Sky, who moved ahead of a group of twenty pursuing riders, which included the favourites.
Shortly afterwards Van Garderen also moved clear, with Contador launching his attack with two kilometres to go.
The Spaniard left behind riders like Sky’s Porte and Italy’s Domenico Pozzovivo, but the Australian managed to recover and with the help of Kiriyenka eventually overtook the former Tour de France winner, but could not catch Van Garderen.
“Yesterday I had a bad day with a fall. Luckily, the damage was minimal and today I was fine,” said Van Garderen, who admitted that without a hope of winning the overall race he had had been pushing for a stage win.
“I wanted to play a little from the back, maybe that cost ??me a little at the end,” said Contador.
“But I’m happy. The legs are increasingly better, although it was a little tough.
“What’s important now is to recover and move on,” added the rider from Saxo-Tinkoff rider.
Results from the 188.4km fourth stage of the Tour of Catalonia from Tona to La Molina on Thursday:
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 5hr 00min 36sec, 2. Richie Porte (AUS) at 0:03sec, 3. Alberto Contador (ESP) 0:08, 4. Daniel Martin (IRL) s.t., 5. Wilco Kelderman (NED) s.t., 6. Darwin Atapuma (COL) 0:11, 7. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) 0:15, 8. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 0:19, 9. Vasili Kiryienka (BLR) 0:21, 10. Rafael Valls (ESP) 0:21
1. Bart De Clercq (BEL/LOT) 18hr 32min 02sec, 2. Richie Porte (AUS) at 0:21sec, 3. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) 0:26, 4. Daniel Martin (IRL) 0:27, 5. Alberto Contador (ESP) 0:28, 6. Rigoberto Uran (COL) 0:45, 7. Fabio Aru (ITA) 0:48, 8. Wilco Kelderman (NED) 0:51, 9. Alejandro Valverde (ESP) 0:52, 10. Darwin Atapuma (COL) 0:54.
– Agence France-Presse