John Degenkolb of Germany wins 4th Vuelta stage
CORDOBA, Spain -- German rider John Degenkolb outsprinted Vicente Reynes and race leader Michael Matthews to win a hot, sunny fourth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Tuesday.
Degenkolb, who rides for Team Giant-Shimano, surged past Matthews and Reynes in the final kilometer of the hilly 164.7 kilometer (102 mile) ride from Mairena del Alcor to Cordoba.
The 23-year-old Matthews, riding for Orica GreenEdge, retained the overall leader's red jersey. The Australian leads Colombian Nairo Quintana by eight seconds and Spain's Alejandro Valverde by 15 seconds.
"I always need a day or two to adapt to the heat and today it worked out," Degenkolb said. The German finished 57th in Monday's third stage as temperatures soared to near 40 degrees Celsius (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in the southern region of Andalusia where the race has been run the last two days.
With some 35 kilometers left, two-time Vuelta winner Valverde broke away from the pack, followed by Winner Anacona of Colombia, Britain's Adam Yates and Frenchman Romain Sicard.
The race then settled down as the following pack caught up and riders vied for tactical, team positioning until two kilometers from the finish.
Race favorite Quintana lost four seconds Tuesday, but is still poised to pounce on any mistake made by Matthews.
Spanish five-time grand tour winner Alberto Contador, who fractured his right shin in a crash during the 10th stage of the Tour de France on July 15, has recovered race form and is 9th overall, 27 seconds behind.
Conditions are expected to be very hot again for Wednesday's fifth stage, a 180 kilometer (111.8 mile) flat run from Priego de Cordoba to Ronda, also in Andalusia.
Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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