2022 Vuelta a Andalucia Stage 4 Preview

Gabia Grande > Baza 167.3km

The profile looks like the organisers took the normal Queen stage and flipped it. The hardest climb in the whole race comes just 15km into the stage. The Monachil climb is well known in this area, it’s an absolute brut of an effort. Last time it was used was back in 2020, when Jack Haig, Jakob Fuglsang and Mikel Landa crested it together(ish) before descending back down into Granada, where Haig won the sprint. 

Putting the climb at the start of the stage is an interesting move by the organisers. The stage is 167km in length, from the top of the climb we still have over 140km left in the day, nobody really knows how the climb will be raced. I think that’s the beauty of the decision, hopefully we get attacking racing, even though it won’t be shown on the TV.

The Big Climbs

8km at 8.1% and that includes a descent just before the final kick-up before the crest, it really is a horrible climb. Normally, we only have a small group of riders together at the top, but that’s when the climb is the last of the day. The descent is fast and on a nice road.

Next up is Puerto de Blancares, which is 14.7km at 3.1%. This climb is a cat 1, not too hard, but the placement of the climb is good. Coming not far from the descent of the big climb means that the chase can’t really get organised until after it’s finished. Domestiques who have gone into the red on the last climb won’t be able to set a good pace until this one is over.


The last 11km starts with 6km at 2.7%, a nice descent and a little rise to the finishing line. 


Your guess is as good as mine! Can Covi climb the first climb with the best? I think the answer is yes, he’s clearly in good form and he’s a decent climber. Last year in the Giro he finished 3rd on Monte Zoncolan from the break. Will he have any teammates after the climb? The answer is probably not, Polanc and Ardila could survive depending on the pace, but today’s performance doesn’t fill me with confidence.

If Covi is isolated, that’s when the other teams will look to have their fun, but who will have numbers? Bahrain have Poels, Caruso, Landa and Haig, they could be the only team with multiple riders in the front group after the climb. The problem is that if the front group is too small, riders will be unwilling to work with so long still to go in the stage. What we might see is a regroupment, but I still don’t think the front group will be that big. For that front group to stay away there will need to be several domestiques willing to push the pace on. 

The pure climbers are López, Sosa, Rodriguez, Yates, Pozzovivo, Haig, Landa, Poels, O’Connor and Buchmann. Will they be willing to work together after the climb? If they go a little slower over the first climb, it is possible for riders like Serrano and Tejada to survive, but then Covi could well be there with a teammate. It really is a fascinating stage, it’s very difficult to predict what will happen.

If all the big teams make the front group, UAE won’t get much help in the peloton. They’ll be keen on trying to bring the race back together as Covi will be put under severe pressure due to a lack of teammates and the number of riders close to him on GC.


Bahrain – both Haig and Poels have a good sprint on them, but they won’t be wanting to simply wait for a sprint. Both are high on GC, and the lack of bonus seconds means they need to attack if they want to win the race. If it then comes back together, both will hope to challenge for the win. If Landa can also make the front group, it will give them a big advantage over the rest.

Simon Yates – has a very good sprint for a climber. He looks in good form, expect to see BikeExchange wanting to make the early stages as hard as possible. Yates has a good cycling brain; he’ll be able to pick the right moves once the climb has been crested. He won’t be happy if Bahrain have multiple riders, that’s when he’ll need to take stock and decide on the best approach. 

Alessandro Covi – this is a very big day in his career. Yes, he is a good climber, but he’s not at the level of the grand tour GC riders here. If Covi tries to stay with them, he could go into the red and totally blow later in the stage. Only having four teammates will make this stage very difficult, UAE are going to come under extreme pressure. We’ll have to see how Covi copes under pressure.

Astana – after his brilliant win on Monday, much was expected of Lutsenko in this race. So far, he’s been a big disappointment. Instead, we’ve seen López step forward and seize his opportunity. The Colombian will be in the front group, I really hope to see Lutsenko there too, and the team will hope that Tejada also survives. To win this stage they need numbers, it would also put them into a strong position to win the GC. López is just 8 seconds down on Covi, he has a 2 second lead on Haig, Rodriguez, Sosa and Pozzovivo. Astana will hope to drop Covi, and control the attacks, then López can move into the race lead.

Ben O’Connor – after a brilliant Tour de France, I’m excited to see what he can do this year. I like his chances for this stage as he loves to attack, to win this stage you’ll need to be willing to lose it.

Gonzalo Serrano – 12th in the Tour de Suisse, the Spaniard can certainly climb. At this point in the season, I’m not sure what his current shape is like. He won’t make it over the first climb at the head of the race, but he could be one of the riders who re-join the front a little later on. If he does, he’ll be one of the fastest in the group.

Matteo Trentin – it all depends on the tactical situation of the race. If he gets to the front group, he’ll likely have to use a lot of energy pulling the group for Covi.

Lenny Kämna – form is growing, and he is a very dangerous attacker.

Prediction Time

As you might have guessed, I’m having a hard time working this one out. A small group of climbers surely can’t go 140km without getting caught? That would be ridiculous. Yes, the climb will be made hard by the GC teams, but how hard? I think we’ll eventually get a group of around 40 riders towards the end of the stage. I’ll take a win for Wout Poels, Bahrain are sure to have numbers. If he does win the stage, he’ll also take the GC.