Stage Photos Here!
As our Illustrious previewer, Locutus says, Stage 4 will be another day for the sprinters. The 149.5 km course from Aguilas to Roquetas de Mar is as "flat as a week-old soda." Cipo has taken his first ever stage in the Vuelta, and will no doubt be looking to make it a double. There's bound to be another big battle between the Telekom and Acqua e Sapone trains, with some input from Fassa Bortolo, Mapei and Index Alexia. The winner coming from the talented sprinting pool at this year's race: Cipollini, Zabel, Freire, Quaranta, Petacchi, Svorada, and Edo.
Dario Gadeo attacked at about 3 km, and his advantage grew to almost 12 minutes; but the peloton is on the chase now, and it's down to 9:12 now. ONCE is on the front of the peloton, insuring a good pace.
The gap is now down to 7:50, but the peloton is going through the feedzone, so Gadeo may be able to get a minute or two back.
He looks like he's faltering, bent low over his bike.
Gadeo (Relax-Fuenlabrada) is just cresting the summit of a long false flat, so things may get better for our lone escapee soon.
Yesterday, Joseba Beloki said that the pace of the racing so far has been "crazy." He can't find much agreement with his rivals, though, who are no doubt looking for the race to get harder.
iBanesto takes the lead in the peloton.
Denis Zanette of Fassa Bortolo is back at the team car, dealing with a problem with his onboard radio. The peloton is moving along at a good pace. It isn't looking good for Mr. Dario Gadeo. Denis Zanette has rejoined the peloton.
Fassa is having some radio static... now it's Nicola Loda back at the team car dealing with more radio trouble.
54 km from the finish, and 6:40 is the time gap. Gadeo is feeling it now.
The sprinters teams have not yet come to the fore, but the catch is only a matter of time, now. Gadeo has made a valiant effort, but he's pedalling squares now.
Acqua e Sapone's Ruben Lobato, the current Lanterne Rouge of the race is on the front...
On the front, it's the sprinters' workhorses. Fassa Bortolo for Alessandro Petacchi, Telekom for Erik Zabel, and Acqua e Sapone for the Lord of the jungle, Mario Cipollini.
Gadeo's Relax-Fuenlabrada team is from Almeria, which is the next port of call on the Vuelta course.
The gap is down to 4:30. The chase is on in earnest.
The gap continues to slip away, and is down to 4:05. He's trying to hang for his sponsors. The sprinters' teams continue to lead the peloton.
41 km to go... The peloton continues to chase the lone leader.
The gap is 2:35 with 39 km to go. The town of Almeria is 6 miles away, and it looks like Dario Gadeo will just hold on.
Gadeo looks tired, he's shaking out his tired legs.
Fans are lined up on the overpass bridges watching the peloton stream by underneath. The peloton has Gadeo in it's sights. They've timed it perfectly, and now can bring him back whenever they like. The gap is 2:25.
Gadeo is hanging on by the skin of his teeth...the gap is 2:10.
There's a massive crowd at the outskirts of Almeria cheering him on...
Gadeo presses on. The course is dead flat from here on out, and runs along the coast. The intermediate sprint is coming up, and Telekom is lining up for current sprint leader, Zabel.
Zabel takes it easily.
Gadeo is riding along a beautiful coastline, there are under 15 miles to go.
The gap is 1:15...
Lampre has now come to the front in force to help Telekom with the chase.
Lampre is in a long line on the front. They are working for their man Jan Svorada. They (Lampre) must like the chances of Jan Svorada today. He faded in the sprint yesterday, but is capable of winning. He's an erratic sprinter (as in inconsistent), so one day he looks like a god, the next day he has nothing.
The catch is on. Gadeo looks over his shoulder to see the peloton. They have him.
He has had a great run today, and will likely be glad for the shelter of the pack.
Sevilla is active at the cabeza del peloton. Trying to stay out of trouble, along with the ONCE boys and the Posties. Or maybe he intends to contest the sprint against Cipo...
There's been a crash! Quaranta is down! Andreas Kloeden has gone down too!
Quaranta has had some disappointing performances of late, and he's out of it again today.
Now the rest of the field is flying down the road like "scalded cats". ONCE is nursing Beloki at the front... keeping him out of trouble.
Oscar Freire is in third position as the peloton turns down a narrow approach to the last kilometers of the day...
The roundabouts are tricky. They caused the earlier crash, and are stringing out the peloton.
It's nervous at the Cabeza del Peloton... Cofidis is up at the front, and Acqua e Sapone is trying to horn in...
Acqua e Sapone completely swallows up the Cofidis rider. The organization is setting up for Super Mario. Zabel is locked onto Cipo's wheel.
The pace is 42 miles per hour, Cipo's domestiques are making a huge effort. The Acquas and the Fassas are leading the charge, but Cipo's men look to have the upper hand.
Acqua e Sapone is all over the front. Cipo, Zabel, Freire... they're all there....Wow, everyone is fighting for Cipo's wheel! Super Mario is cool as a cucumber. They are absolutely FLYING.
Cipo is one in front of Zabel...Freire is right there...
They are breaking for the lion...
Cipo takes an easy win. Easily dusts Zabel at the line. AMAZING.
Svorada made a big run on the left for a good finish, but he didn't have enough pop in his legs.
Cipo crosses the line, both arms in the air, and looks over his shoulder to see the face of the defeated Zabel.
So, another inexorable victory for the Lord of the Jungle... can he be beaten?
Giovanni Lombardi had the leadout for Cipo...perfect job too. He held it until closer to the line today.
1º 13 CIPOLLINI, Mario ITA ACQ 3:33:32
2º 84 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS m.t.
3º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE m.t.
4º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL m.t.
5º 138 SVORADA, Jan CZE LAM m.t.
6º 34 FURLAN, Angelo ITA ALS m.t.
7º 152 EDO, Angel ESP MIL m.t.
8º 141 FREIRE, Oscar ESP MAP m.t.
9º 22 AUS, Lauri EST A2R m.t.
10º 61 BLIJEVENS, Jeroen NED DFF m.t.
11º 203 BOSSONI, Paolo ITA TAC m.t.
12º 6 GUIDI, Fabrizio ITA COA m.t.
13º 202 BALDUCCI, Gabriele ITA TAC m.t.
14º 126 GUTIERREZ, José ESP KEL m.t.
15º 71 ARTETXE, Mikel ESP EUS m.t.
16º 57 SASSONE, Robert FRA COF m.t.
17º 38 VINALE, Alberto ITA ALS m.t.
18º 96 LASTRAS, Pablo ESP BAN m.t.
19º 44 HUNT, Jeremy GBR BIG m.t.
20º 93 FLECHA, J.Antonio ESP BAN m.t.
21º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL m.t.
22º 49 TALABARDON, Sebastien FRA BIG m.t.
23º 8 PEREZ, Luis ESP COA m.t.
24º 134 KADLEC, Milan CZE LAM m.t.
25º 95 GUTIERREZ, José Iván ESP BAN m.t.
26º 97 MANCEBO, Francisco ESP BAN m.t.
27º 212 ALDAG, Rolf GER TEL m.t.
28º 16 LOMBARDI, Giovanni ITA ACQ m.t.
29º 118 TORRENT, Carlos ESP JAZ m.t.
30º 218 VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL m.t.
31º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL m.t.
32º 103 DI GRANDE, Giuseppe ITA INA m.t.
33º 129 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL m.t.
34º 54 CLAIN, Mederic FRA COF m.t.
35º 142 AGGIANO, Elio ITA MAP m.t.
36º 51 MILLAR, David GBR COF m.t.
37º 135 VERSTREPEN, Johan BEL LAM m.t.
38º 11 GONZALEZ, Santos ESP ACQ m.t.
39º 79 ZUBELDIA, Haimar ESP EUS m.t.
40º 115 GUILLAMON, Juan ESP JAZ m.t.
41º 77 MARTINEZ, Alberto ESP EUS m.t.
42º 24 BOTCHAROV, Alexandre RUS A2R m.t.
43º 206 HAUPTMAN, Andrej SLO TAC m.t.
44º 35 MIHOLJEVIC, Vladimir CRO ALS m.t.
45º 145 CIONI, Dario David ITA MAP m.t.
46º 225 CRUZ, Antonio USA USP m.t.
47º 169 ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE m.t.
48º 177 SALMON, Benoit FRA PHO m.t.
49º 48 SIVAKOV, Alexei RUS BIG m.t.
50º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO m.t.
Official General Classification
1º 161 BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE 11:07:11
2º 169 ZARRABEITIA, Mikel ESP ONE m.t.
3º 162 GLEZ. GALDEANO, Igor ESP ONE m.t.
4º 163 AZEVEDO, José POR ONE m.t.
5º 168 SERRANO, Marcos ESP ONE m.t.
6º 166 JAKSCHE, Jörg GER ONE m.t.
7º 126 GUTIERREZ, José ESP KEL a 9
8º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL a 12
9º 221 HERAS, Roberto ESP USP a 14
10º 228 VANDEVELDE, Christian USA USP a 14
11º 222 RUBIERA, José Luis ESP USP a 14
12º 121 SEVILLA, Oscar ESP KEL a 15
13º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL a 15
14º 122 BOTERO, Santiago COL KEL a 15
15º 129 VALVERDE, Alejandro ESP KEL a 15
16º 127 MANZANO, Jesus Maria ESP KEL a 15
17º 123 DE LOS ANGELES, Juan José ESP KEL a 15
18º 124 GARCIA, Carlos ESP KEL a 15
19º 218 VINOKOUROV, Alexandre KAZ TEL a 18
20º 214 KESSLER, Matthias GER TEL a 18
21º 83 LODA, Nicola ITA FAS a 23
41º 13 CIPOLLINI, Mario ITA ACQ a 37
Overall Points Standings
1º 211 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL 56
2º 13 CIPOLLINI, Mario ITA ACQ 50
3º 84 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS 41
4º 152 EDO, Angel ESP MIL 32
5º 194 DI LUCA, Danilo ITA SAE 25
6º 141 FREIRE, Oscar ESP MAP 22
7º 197 GLOMSER, Gerrit AUT SAE 19
8º 138 SVORADA, Jan CZE LAM 18
9º 203 BOSSONI, Paolo ITA TAC 17
10º 171 CAMENZIND, Oscar SUI PHO 16
11º 115 GUILLAMON, Juan ESP JAZ 14
12º 112 GADEO, Dario ESP JAZ 12
13º 186 NIETO, Germán ESP REL 12
14º 179 TEUTENBERG, Sven GER PHO 12
15º 83 LODA, Nicola ITA FAS 10
16º 34 FURLAN, Angelo ITA ALS 10
17º 207 KLEMENCIC, Zoran SLO TAC 10
18º 161 BELOKI, Joseba ESP ONE 9
19º 125 GONZALEZ, Aitor ESP KEL 8
20º 183 GARRIDO, Martín ARG REL 8
Overall Teams Standings
1º Once - Eroski ONE 33:21:33
2º Kelme - Costa Blanca KEL a 39
3º US Postal Service USP a 42
4º Team Telekom TEL a 48
5º Fassa Bortolo FAS a 1:03
6º Cofidis, le credit par telephone COF a 1:12
7º IBanesto.com BAN a 1:21
8º Team Coast COA a 1:51
9º Acqua & Sapone - Cantina Tollo ACQ a 1:57
10º Mapei-Quick Step MAP a 2:00
11º Phonak Hearing Systems PHO a 2:15
12º Milaneza - MSS MIL a 2:36
13º Lampre - Daikin LAM a 2:36
14º DOMO - Farm Frites DFF a 2:51
15º Euskaltel - Euskadi EUS a 3:09
16º Tacconi - Sport TAC a 3:21
17º Saeco - Longoni Sport SAE a 3:33
18º Bigmat Auber 93 BIG a 3:48
19º Jazztel - Costa Almeria JAZ a 3:57
20º Alessio ALS a 4:06
21º AG2R Prevoyance A2R a 4:18
22º Relax - Fuenlabrada REL a 4:27
23º Index - Alexia INA a 11:29
The climber's standings remain unchanged today, however, tomorrow will be a different story. Tomorrow will see a rolling stage of 198 km with a Cat 2 and Cat 3 about midway, but the watch out for the Special Category climb at the 161 km mark! Hope you'll join us here and in the Daily Peloton Chatroom for this stage as we cover it live. Thanks for reading!