Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka suffered a bad loss on stage 4 of Vuelta al Pais Vasco as team leader Steve Cummings crashed with 30 km to go and had to abandon the Spanish World Tour race. However, the remaining riders put in a strong performance on the final kilometers.
After the main breakaways had been established quite early in the previous days, it took over an hour of furious racing before the peloton finally let a group of four riders get away today. Posing no threats for the overall leader, the pack didn’t seem too concerned about the breakaway and therefore allowed the group to get a gap of nearly five minutes. With about 50 km left to go, the teams of the pre-stage favorites started setting a fast pace at the front of the peloton and the gap quickly came down to just a few minutes.
As the peloton started to reel the breakaway back in, the pace slowed down a little. However, despite the low stress situation, drama found its way to mark the stage. Together with multiple other GC riders, Cummings crashed hard in a corner and had to see his chances of stage and overall success in Vuelta al Pais Vasco disappear. Later, at the hospital, X-ray exams confirmed fractures on Cummings’ left collarbone and scapula as well as a sternum fracture. He will now need a CT scan for a more accurate diagnosis. Further information will be released when available.
On a good note, both Serge Pauwels and Merhawi Kudus showed eagerness and tenacity as they attacked on the final part of the stage. Pauwels was the first rider to attack on the last climb, while Kudus joined a late move on the final kilometers. However, at the end, it was Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) who took the win as he managed to keep a chasing peloton at bay. Due to their strong performances, Kudus and Pauwels now sit 13th and 14th in the general classification before tomorrow’s queen stage of the race. Both riders are just three seconds behind the leading rider, David de la Cruz (Quick-Step Floors). Igor Antón is third in the KOM classification.
Bingen Fernández – Sports director:
“Today, we were focused on protecting Steve, Serge and Merhawi. As we were approaching Bilbao for the first time, we wanted to move Steve up within the peloton and put him in a good position. Unfortunately, that’s when the crash occurred. Now, we will all get behind Merhawi for tomorrow’s stage. It’s a good day for him and the final steep climb suits him well. We hope for the best”.