• Vuelta a Espana, Stage Four

Froome moves into second as Clarke claims maiden win

ESPN staff
August 21, 2012
Simon Clarke finished strongly to win from Tony Martin © PA Photos

Chris Froome failed to shake off Alberto Contador on the first day in the mountains as Australia's Simon Clarke won Stage Four of the Vuelta a Espana.

Froome and Team Sky took advantage of a big crash in the peloton, opening up a gap from Alejandro Valverde in the red jersey, but Contador kept pace as Joaquin Rodriguez moved into the overall lead.

Contador, Froome and Nicholas Roche briefly moved clear on Valdezcaray, but Rodriguez's Katusha team worked hard to close the gap.

While Roche continued to push on to finish fourth, Rodriguez, Froome and Contador all crossed the line together, 1:04 behind Clarke. New GC leader Rodriguez holds a single second advantage over Froome, who sits in second place, five seconds clear of Contador in third.

Overnight leader Valverde was a major casualty as he lost time in the aftermath of the crash, losing over a minute to his rivals.

Clarke and Olympic time trial silver medalist Tony Martin were in an early breakaway group of five that opened up a ten-minute advantage over the field.

While Jesus Rosendo Prado, Luis Angel Mate and Assan Bazeyev dropped off the pace, Clarke and Martin played a cat-and-mouse game up to the summit finish in Valdezcaray, and it was the Australian who had the most left in his legs to take the victory.

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