Cycling - Jakobsen denies Bennett second Vuelta stage win in a row
EL PUIG, Spain (Reuters) - Dutch rider Fabio Jakobsen sprinted to victory to win stage four of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday and deny Irishman Sam Bennett a second successive stage victory by the finest of margins, while Nicolas Roche retained the overall leader’s red jersey.
The Deceuninck-QuickStep rider edged out Bennett by a matter of millimeters in the flat finale to the 175 km ride along Spain’s east coast from Cullera to El Puig to earn his first ever victory at a Grand Tour.
The stage, which contained only one classified climb and had a 20km flat finish, was one of the more straightforward routes of this year’s Vuelta and was always going to favor the sprinters.
Bennett, who picked up a fourth Grand Tour stage win the previous day — his first at the Vuelta — looked to be on course for a stunning repeat victory but his decision to take a right turn rather than left at a roundabout as the final kilometer approached saw him lose valuable time.
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The Irishman recovered superbly in the last stretch of the stage but narrowly failed to unseat Jakobsen.
Bennett’s compatriot Roche holds a two-second lead in the general classification over second-placed Nairo Quintana while Rigoberto Uran is third, still eight seconds behind Roche despite being involved in a minor crash on Tuesday.
The Vuelta lost another high-profile name earlier in the day when Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk of Jumbo-Visma withdrew from the race with a sore knee which had become aggravated since being involved in a crash in the opening team time trial.
Wednesday’s stage five is a 170km hilly ride from L’Eliana to Alto de Javalembre containing three classified climbs and is the first of eight summit finishes at this year’s race.