Itzulia Basque Country 2024 – Stage 4 Preview

With the Basque Country being the trickiest race to predict so far this season, my thoughts are with Lennard Kämna who has been rushed to the hospital following an accident during training in Tenerife.


Stage 4 is very similar to stage 3 in a way. The finale is just tougher.

The riders head west for the first half of the stage, before doing a lap around the finishing city of Legutio. If you look closely, you will see it just under the left intermediate sprint.


With 40.7 km left, the climbing begins. Olaeta is the opener, and the descent right after is fast and has a technical section. Untzilla doesn’t have the best surface, the climb will be harder than the gradients show.

If we see any GC teams wanting to launch their captain, it must happen on Leintz-Gatzaga. An under-10 minute climb. It starts 11.3 km from the line and ends 8.5 km from the line.

This is the run for home. The descent helps a potential move to stay away, but the last 5500m are flat.


I don’t think the wind will have to much of an impact. It is a headwind on the last climb, but 3 m/s is not much. Plus, the wind speed isn’t on the road but likely on some crest close by. A crosswind over the top before a tailwind in the last 1800m.

How will the stage unfold?

If I was Visma-LAB or Soudal Quick-Step, I would have my team test Roglic and Ayuso. They both hit the deck today and it is not poor sportsmanship the following day. If that happens, you can almost certainly expect most of the fast men to be dropped if Evenepoel or Vingegaard decides to attack. They will hope to cling on but the chase will be tough.

There is a scenario where it does not happen. In that scenario, I think the likes of Aranburu, De Pretto, Hayter, Lapeira, Braet and Hermans all can cling on. However, do Soudal Quick-Step really want it? This is a good stage for Evenepoel.

We also have to factor the intermediate sprint at the foot of Leintz-Gatzaga (2.8 km at 9.5%). This can give you a few bikes lengths head start. I just see the scenario with Evenepoel or Vingegaard attacking.


Roglic – suffered superficial wounds on his right side, contusions and bruising. He didn’t look good if you ask me. Still, he finished 18th and that is a positive sign. He will be tested tomorrow and he will give all he has. He may not be able to follow due to the crash, it wouldn’t be an issue at all had he not hit the deck. We all saw his performance on stage 1. Hopefully his team can bring it back. So far, they’ve not impressed me.

Evenepoel – I think he has to try something tomorrow. He is slowly grinding some bonus seconds but I don’t think he is too satisfied. The team has what it takes to put everyone under pressure. He will also be happy with a companion or two up front, he will be confident he can beat them in a sprint. Attacking also enhances the chances of bonus seconds if the group stays away.

Skjelmose – “I’m happy to have such a fat ass.” Always look on the bright side of life. On a short, steep climb such as tomorrow, he is very good. We saw that on Mont Brouilly in Paris-Nice. He too has a fast sprint and I’m very curious to see, how good it is compared to the likes of Evenepoel and Roglic.

Ayuso – He has suffered abrasions to his left arm & bruises to his hip. He didn’t look very happy crossing the line. I fear the damage is worse to him compared to Roglic, luckily for him, the stage is easy tomorrow. I’m more worried for stage 6. It will open up chances for his teammates, McNulty and Soler are both solid late-attackers tomorrow.

Vingegaard – I hope he will attack. Two out of three main rivals crashed today. It is also about sending a sign and it doesn’t hurt trying to distance them. It would be odd not to test them. He will likely not win, I doubt he can solo from the top. Then he will once again have surprised me.

Vauquelin – quick enough to challenge for a top-10. A very good stage for him. He could potentially attack late.

Bilbao – enjoys a flat sprint from a reduced group. A top-10, likely higher.

Aranburu – he is better here than everywhere else he races. If everything falls into place, he stands a good chance at taking the win tomorrow.

De Pretto – another name to remember. A top-10.

Battisstella – A top-10. That Paris-Nice performance makes me believe that he is not far from the best. Especially since he goes well on double-digits.

Who will win?

I will go for Evenepoel. With Ayuso and Roglic recovering, he has a very good chance tomorrow. Plus, I finally think the GC riders will test each other.

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