Joao Almeida wins at Boí Taüll and Quintana takes the lead
March 24 th 2022 - 19:37
(Boí Taüll, 24-03-2022).- Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) was the winner of the fourth stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2022, finishing in Boí Taüll. In the second consecutive day of high mountains, the Portuguese rider overtook Nairo Quintana at the finish, who is the new leader of the general classification.
The Volta a Catalunya lived this Thursday the second consecutive high mountain stage with a new high mountain finish. La Seu d'Urgell kicked off the fourth stage that took the riders to Boí Taüll, at an alitude of more than 2,000 metres, after passing the Boixols and Creu de Perves mountain passes, both of which are in the first category. It was the first finish at the ski resort since Aitor Garmendia won in 2002, now 20 years ago.
The day started with a fight to catch the breakaway that was very intense and lasted until kilometre 50. After many attacks in the peloton, Marc Soler (UAE Team Emirates), Bruno Almirail (Groupama-FDJ), Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Hugh Carthy (EF Education Easypost), Mark Donovan (Team DSM) and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskaltel-Euskadi) were the seven riders who took the lead.The peloton, led for much of the stage by AG2R Citroën Team, maintained a high pace and never let the gap exceed three minutes.
The escapees took the lead over the first two mountain passes and Mikel Bizkarra scored five points to take the lead in the mountains classification. In the final stretch of the stage and with the group less than a minute behind, Bruno Almirail and Mark Donovan accelerated the pace and caught up with their breakaway companions. At the foot of Boí Taüll it was the Frenchman who went solo until he was joined by George Bennet, who caught him after jumping from the group of favourites.
Jonathan Castroviejo (INEOS Grenadiers) made the climb harder for the benefit of his team-mate Richard Carapaz and the pace set by the Basque rider and then Carlos Rodríguez was enough to catch the two escapees and leave the group of favourites at around ten riders. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) tried his luck with just over three kilometres to go and then it was Richard Carapaz who gained a few metres of advantage.
The two, along with Sergio Higuita (BORA-Hansgrohe) and Nairo Quintana (Team Arkéa Samsic), formed a group of four in which there were several attacks in the final kilometres. Richard Carapaz dropped a few metres from the finish and Portuguese rider Joao Almeida took the stage win in a tight sprint against Colombians Nairo Quintana and Sergio Higuita. The Arkéa Samsic rider took the overall lead, tied on time with the Portuguese rider and six seconds ahead of Higuita. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroën Team), who wore the leader's jersey, lost time at the finish and was 17 seconds behind Quintana in the general classification, the same time as young Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates).
The worst hit on the climb to Boí Taüll was former world champion Alejan Valverde (Movistar Team), who lost more than five minutes on the first ramps of the climb. Before the start of the stage, Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange-Jayco), who lost more than ten minutes yesterday, had dropped out. This Friday, the Volta a Catalunya will live the fifth stage, the longest of this edition.
La Pobla de Segur will host the start of the Volta for the second consecutive year and, after 206 kilometres, the riders will reach Vilanova i la Geltrú. The capital of Garraf will be the finishing point of the Vuelta for the eighteenth time and has seen iconic winners such as Mario Cipollini (1999) or Erik Zabel (2000).