LAGUARDIA, Spain (AP) — The Spanish Vuelta was back in Spain. And defending champion Primoz Roglic was back in the lead.
Roglic showed he is in great form and in position to retain his Vuelta title with a dominant win in the fourth stage on Tuesday as the Grand Tour race returned to Spanish territory after three opening stages in the Netherlands.
Trying to win an unprecedented fourth straight Vuelta title, Roglic took the leader’s red jersey after launching his attack in the final meters of the uphill climb into Laguardia in the Basque Country.
The Jumbo-Visma rider opened a 13-second gap in the general classification to American teammate Sepp Kuss. Roglic was 26 seconds in front of Ethan Hayter of Ineos Grenadiers.
“It’s really just the beginning of La Vuelta but it’s always better to be 10 seconds ahead rather than behind,” Roglic said. “It was already a hard pace the whole day, with a super fast and hard stage. The finale was an opportunity to fight for the stage win. I had the legs so I gave it a go.”
The Slovenian crossed the line in front of Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo and Movistar’s Enric Mas. It was the third-straight second-place finish for Pedersen, who was beaten by Sam Bennett in the second and third stages.
Roglic enjoyed his 10th stage win overall at the Vuelta. His preparations for this edition were not ideal — because of injuries sustained in a fall at the Tour de France — and his participation confirmed only a few days before the race started.
Ineos rider Richard Carapaz was 33 seconds off the lead, and Simon Yates of Bikeexchange-Jayco fell 51 seconds back overall.
The first three stages had taken place in the Netherlands for the first time after plans to start there in 2020 were hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Riders will face five mountain passes in Wednesday’s fifth stage finishing in Bilbao.
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