Rafael Valls breaks five-year winless spell to take victory on stage four of the Tour of Oman and lead the race

Spanish rider Rafael Valls (Lampre-Merida) won stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman on Green Mountain. It’s Valls first victory since winning a stage of the Tour de San Luis in 2010, and he now takes the overall race lead.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC) came home in second place, with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in third.

The ‘queen stage’ of the Tour of Oman served up the expected battle between general classification contenders and climbers, with 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) one of those in the thick of the action.

Nibali was one of the first to launch an attack, and briefly distanced the lead group but was caught and passed.

Michael Schar leads on stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Michael Schar leads on stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Former race leader Fabian Cancellara (Trek) relinquished the red jersey after falling back on the final climb.

Up until the final climb, the day’s action had been fairly leisurely with an escape group having been given a loose rein.

Originally four riders had formed a break: Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport-Vlaanderen), Stijn Vandenberg (Etixx-QuickStep), Andrea Guardini (Astana) and serial breakaway rider Jef Van Meirhaeghe (Topsport-Vlaanderen).

After the first intermediate sprint, both Guardini and an Meirhaeghe dropped back, leaving the duo of Van Hoecke and Vandenberg. With 100km to go, the pair had just under 15 minutes gap. But soon after BMC, Movistar and Trek were active in chasing them down. By 25km to go, the gap had tumbled to 3-50 and the catch was made at the base of Green Mountain with 10km remaining.

The six-stage Tour of Oman concludes on Sunday, February 22.

Tejay van Garderen leads on stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Tejay van Garderen leads on Green Mountain

Results
Tour of Oman 2015, stage four: Sultan Qaboos Grande Mosque to Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain), 189km

1. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 5 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 19 secs
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 22 secs
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 35 secs
6. Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida at 49 secs
7. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 54 secs
8. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 58 secs
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing at 1-00
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1-00

Overall classification after stage four
1. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida
2. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC at 9 secs
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 19 secs
4. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo at 32 secs
5. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1-04
6. Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka at 1-08
7. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 1-10
8. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing at 1-15
9. Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing at 1-25
10. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 1-36

Rafa Valls wins stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Rafa Valls wins stage four of the 2015 Tour of Oman