Calmejane solos to first career win in Vuelta a Espana stage 4

Young French rider Lilian Calmejane of Pro Continental squad Direct Energie attacked out of an enormous breakaway to win solo on Wednesday’s Vuelta a España summit finish. BMC’s Colombian Darwin Atapuma, ninth in this year’s Giro d’Italia, assumed the race lead.

There were numerous unsuccessful attempts to break away both before and on the first Cat. 3, the Alto da Serra Capela. Even race leader Ruben Fernandez (Spain/Movistar) tried to get away. But it was in between the early climbs that an enormous escape broke free. In it were serial buccaneer Thomas De Gendt (Belgium/Lotto-Soudal), who took maximum points on both Cat. 3’s to put himself in the KOM discussion, and Atapuma, only 1’35” behind Fernandez on GC.

This great raft of riders took a 4’30” lead, with Movistar getting little help to control it. With 40-km to go, the fugitives started attacking one another. De Gendt was at first reeling in the attacks and then trying them himself.

It was clear by the foot of the 11-km final climb that the day’s winner would be from the breakaway and that Movistar was content to let the red jersey go this early in the race. Axel Domont (France/AG2R) was first to hit the San Andres de Teixido, as Tinkoff and Orica-BikeExchange took over from Movistar in the peloton.

As Domont bolstered himself with thoughts of compatriot Geniez’s victory, Sky swamped the front of the field, now 4:00 behind. But it was not to be for Domont. His breakmates brought him back before another Frenchman, Calmejane, rushed away. Meanwhile, poor Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) was shelled from the peloton once more.

On the little descent midway up the climb before it reached its steeper half, Calmejane led his closest chaser, Cannondale-Drapac’s Pierre Rolland, by 21-seconds. The other fugitives absorbed Rolland, so Atapuma lit out after Calmejane. In the peloton, the race’s first leader Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain/Sky) took off.

The Direct Energie man kept both his “calme” and his lead as he went under the red kite and would go on to hoist his first podium flowers. With Movistar driving the peloton, the red jersey was dropped and Kennaugh brought to heel. Atapuma was second on the day and the remaining favourites all crossed the line together.

Vuelta a Espana 2016 – stage 4 results (Betanzos – San Andrés de Teixido):

1 Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie)


2 Darwin Atapuma (BMC)


3 Benjamin King (Cannondale-Drapac)


4 Andrey Zeits (Astana)


5 Nathan Haas (Dimension Data)


6 Enrico Battaglin (LottoNL – Jumbo)


7 Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac)


8 Chad Haga (Giant – Alpecin)


9 Jaime Roson (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA)


10 Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18)



General classification after stage 4:

1 Darwin Atapuma (BMC)


2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)


3 Christopher Froome (Sky)


4 Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange)


5 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)


6 Samuel Sánchez (BMC)


7 Daniel Moreno (Movistar)


8 Leopold König (Sky)


9 Peter Kennaugh (Sky)


10 Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-Quick-Step)