2023 Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Stage 4 Preview

Burriana > Santa d’Altura 181.6km

The Queen stage, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. Okay, there’s 3717m of elevation, but I would say there’s a lot of irrelevant climbing. The main climb, which goes through the finishing line, crests with over 60km to go, that’s far too far out for any action. The stage ends with another uphill kick, but how big will the peloton be at the finish?


A beautiful day in Spain.


3.4km at 6.6%, it’s a steady climb. The riders will be very happy they get to ride through the finish earlier in the stage, there’s nothing quite like it in terms of preparation. The finish is a steady effort, the maximum gradient is 8.7%. The most important point of the finale is the final 250m, as the riders must deal with a hairpin and then a right-hand bend which comes just before the line. The battle isn’t for the finishing line, first to the final bend will be the winner, starting your sprint early is advised.


Is the stage hard enough to see gaps on GC? In my opinion, it is not. The placement of the climbs is the problem, the final 60km is too easy. I think we’re going to see a controlled stage, and then a big effort up the final climb. Not what I have in mind when I think about a Queen stage.

Bahrain have spoken about trying to make this stage hard, but I struggle to see where they’ll be able to put Ciccone, and the others, into difficulty. Maybe I’m underestimating the amount of climbing in this stage, but if Bahrain use up riders by setting a fast pace, teams like UAE and Ineos will outnumber them and take advantage of all their hard work.

The GC situation is such that a Bilbao stage win will put him into the leader’s jersey. If I was Bahrain, I’d control the break, and then set up a “sprint” finish. Ciccone won on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean he’ll win this stage.

The breakaway will hope to get some rope. Trek-Segafredo will have no interest in chasing it down, but as the only way of winning the GC is by taking bonus seconds, I don’t think the early move will have much of a chance.


Biniam Girmay – I’m a big fan, but I don’t think he can win this stage. 3km at 6.6% doesn’t sound that bad, but after 3700m of climbing, it will feel harder than the numbers suggest. Girmay has never won a finish like this, he was 2nd in the opening stage of last year’s Giro, where the finish was 5.5km at 4.2%, but the rest of the day was very easy. By the end of this year, he may well have developed into a rider who can win this type of stage, but I don’t think he’ll take the win tomorrow.

Pello Bilbao – needs to win. In the second stage, he couldn’t follow Ciccone when he made his jump, that’s a concern for this finish. As I’ve said before, Bilbao rarely wins uphill finishes, Bahrain need to try and make Ciccone work before the final 250m. Expect to see Landa attack at some point, trying to force the Italian to use up some vital energy.

Alex Aranburu – cut a frustrated figure today, but Movistar only have themselves to blame. This is a finish that suits him well, but it all depends on the speed of the climb. Positioning for the final 500m is vital, but it’s hard to move up the bunch when they are flying up a 7% incline, I get the feeling he might be too far back to sprint for the win.

Giulio Ciccone – was brilliant on Thursday, and this is another good finish for him. When Ciccone is on form, he’s very hard to stop. Looking at his team, he needs a big ride from Elissonde, they can’t leave Mollema to cover all the moves in the finale. If the stage ends in a sprint, and Ciccone has had an armchair ride, he should take another win.

Aleksandr Vlasov – he should like this finish more than the one on Thursday. Vlasov is one of the best puncheurs in the world, and he should be stronger with the past few days in his legs. If this was a race in the middle of last season, he’d start as the favourite.

Brandon McNulty – rolled the dice on Thursday, but it wasn’t to be. UAE have one of the strongest teams in the race, they’ll also look to put Trek-Segafredo under pressure throughout the day. McNulty is a fan of attacking from distance, it will be interesting to see when he pulls the trigger. After failing with an attack on Thursday, will he gamble on his sprint?

Thomas Gloag – it’s been brilliant watching him race this week, he gives no shits! None of this easing into the pro peloton, he’s straight on the attack. He’s now attacked on two consecutive days, of course he goes for three. Winning will be hard, but I want to see him go down swinging.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – harshly relegated for his sprint on Thursday, which cost him vital bonus seconds. I didn’t expect him to be the best Ineos rider, but that’s how it goes. He’s got a good sprint, and as Ineos have such a strong team, I have to think they’ll join in the attacking fun. Tao hasn’t won since he claimed the pink jersey in 2020, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it’s contract season.

Prediction Time

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I hope I’m wrong about this stage, I’d love to see the big teams take chunks out of each other. Ciccone looks a little exposed to me, so I’m going to take a win for Pello Bilbao.