Volta a Catalunya: Marijn van den Berg charges to stage 4 sprint victory

Marijn van den Berg (EF Education-EasyPost) sprinted to the first win of his season on stage 4 at Volta a Catalunya, out-pacing Emils Liepins (DSM-Firmenich-PostNL) and Arne Marit (Intermarché-Wanty).

Bryan Coquard opened up the sprint after his Cofidis team spent most of the day controlling the breakaway but hit the front too soon and had to settle for fourth.

For Van den Berg, the victory was confirmation he is better than ever after recovering from an injury last month.

"[The season] was going really well in the beginning and then I crashed quite hard and Algarve and had a concussion, so I was out for a little bit," Van den Berg explained.

"I started competing last week in Milano-Torino and Milan San Remo and then I came here to focus on getting in shape again and see how the outcome would be here and in the stage like today - and now I'm back on track."

The 169km stage from Sort to Lleida was the first sprint stage of the 2024 edition, which has heretofore been dominated by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), winner of stages 2 and 3 in mountaintop finishes.

Pogačar finished in the peloton to keep his commanding lead of 2:27 over Mikel Landa (Soudal-Quickstep) with Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) still in third at 2:55.

"Today was a day to recover a little bit - it was three very hard and demanding stages the last few days, so today was a really nice day for us, for the team. I think for the whole peloton was quite an easy day," Pogačar said after the finish.

How it unfolded

Stage 4 of the Volta a Catalunya was one of the few opportunities for the sprinters in the 2024 edition and, with sunny skies, little wind, and just one climb halfway through the day - the Port d'Àger - the day went according to formula.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Dstny), Urko Berrade (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Idar Andersen (Uno-X Mobility) attacked from the gun and were let go with little resistance from the peloton.

They built up a lead of over three minutes on the long run out to the Port d'Àger and, after the summit, the peloton then started closing down the gap.

The trio had 2:30 when Berrade lost contact with 60km to go and, as Cofidis appeared to have the most motivation to bring the stage to a bunch sprint, it was down to a minute with 40km to go.

De Gendt and Andersen were caught as Movistar began to up the pace for the intermediate sprint. Sepp Kuss (Visma-Lease a Bike) put in a surge to go for the bonification and was joined by Wout Poels and Antonio Tiberi from Bahrain Victorious.

Poels claimed the three-second bonus ahead of Kuss and, when they were brought back, Luis Ángel Maté (Euskaltel-Euskadi) counter-attacked.

The Spaniard stayed out front until 8.5km to go as the sprint trains began to form in the peloton. No team could get overwhelming control of the lead-in to the finish until Ineos hit the front with Geraint Thomas with 1.5km to go.

The 2018 Tour de France winner stretched the peloton into a single-file line through to 500m to go when Lotto Dstny surged past. Coquard hit the front first but Van den Berg had more speed to deliver the win.


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