Four days of racing, and now four top-10s in the bags. The young riders from Groupama-FDJ keep their momentum going on the Vuelta. After Romain Grégoire and Lenny Martinez, Lewis Askey also got his result in Tarragona, after an eventful sprint. Well supported until the last kilometre, the British rider was however slightly slowed down by a crash in the final corner of the day and was then unable to fight for the very first positions. On the line, he took eighth place, a few metres behind winner Kaden Groves. Lenny Martinez remains third overall after spending the day in the best young rider’s white jersey.

After going from Catalonia to Andorra on Monday, the bunch was set to go the other way around this Tuesday on stage 4, which tallied 185 kilometres and suited the sprinters. With good weather conditions on the menu, a quieter day was also expected while Eduardo Sepúlveda (Lotto Dstny), Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) and David Gonzalez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) established the break early on. “Everyone anticipated a sprint, and we knew that teams like Alpecin-Deceuninck and DSM-firmenich were going to control”, said Benoît Vaugrenard. “We wanted to stay safe in the bunch, and above all to be careful about the wind which could make the race harder and nervous”. “It was downhill all day, so it went fast, but it was pretty easy in the wheels,” said Lewis Askey. “At the halfway point, it got very nervous because there was just enough wind to get the GC guys agitated, but it was all for nothing. We then focused properly for the last two hours of racing. We went fast over the climbs with the tailwind, then the pace was very high until the finish despite a few roundabouts”. The race therefore came down to a fully controlled chase of the peloton, which never gave the leading trio more than two minutes. The fugitives were able to compete for the KOMs along the way, but they eventually got caught twenty kilometres from the finish as the tension increased significantly within the pack.

“I braked too hard”, Lewis Askey

The trains of leaders and sprinters started to appear with ten kilometres to go, then a narrowing of the road with five kilometres to go led to a big crash and a split. Caught in the accident, Clément Davy was able to get going again despite a cut on the eyebrow arch. Lenny Martinez “made his way through the crashes”, while the Romain Grégoire-Sam Watson-Lewis Askey trio moved up to the front positions. “Roman and Sam did a great job for me in the final,” added Lewis. “We said at the briefing that if we could have a good position at 2.5 kilometres and that if I hadn’t made an effort before the last corner, we could go for the sprint. I also thought it could be nice to take the wheel of Marijn [van den Berg] or Groves. I was right there, unfortunately Marijn crashed in the last corner. I was sure there was going to be a crash right there after spending a lot of time looking at the last kilometres last night…” The Briton was forced to brake 400 metres from the line and lost his momentum for the final few hundreds of metres, slightly uphill. “I was really careful,” Lewis said. “I didn’t crash, but I braked too hard, a few guys overtook me, and I lost speed”.

“We can already be super proud”, Lewis Askey

Thanks to a final effort, the 22-year-old managed to hold the wheels and get eighth place on the line, a few lengths behind the winner Kaden Groves. “Lewis did a good sprint,” said Benoît Vaugrenard. “It’s a shame he got slowed down, it prevented him from delivering more, as the positions in the corner are more or less the positions on the line”. “It’s a pity, but that’s how the sprint is”, said the Englishman. “I think I made a small mistake, but it was due to the crash, and I’m very happy with the way the team rode today. We have been here for four days, we did well on all stages, and we have no regrets. There are still many stages to go, but we can already be super proud of our start to the Vuelta. We do everything we need to get our chance, and we can be happy with that”. On Tuesday, Lenny Martinez retained his third place overall, eleven seconds behind the red jersey Remco Evenepoel, while another sprint should conclude stage 5 in Burriana on Wednesday.

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