MADRID (Reuters) – Ben King earned the biggest victory of his career by emphatically out-sprinting Nikita Stalnov in a summit finish on stage four of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday.
The Team Dimension Data rider, 29, triumphed in four hours 33 minutes and 12 seconds, two seconds ahead of Astana Pro Team’s Stalnov.
U.S. rider King attacked Kazakhstan’s Stalnov a couple of hundred metres before the end, storming past him for his first stage win since the 2016 Tour of California.
Michal Kwiatkowski retained his overall lead but the Team Sky rider lost time on the 162 kilometre ride from Velez, Malaga to Alfacar’s Sierra de la Alfaguara, coming in just over three minutes down on King.
The Pole leads Germany’s Emanuel Buchmann of Bora-Hansgrohe by seven seconds with Britain’s Simon Yates in third and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde in fourth.
Mitchelton–Scott rider Yates burst into contention for the general classification with an impressive attack in the final four kilometres.
King and Stalnov stayed ahead after the day’s early break and although Pierre Rolland of EF Drapac came within touching distance, he was left behind in the final sprint.
“It’s a dream come true, I didn’t start believing it until the last kilometre,” said King. “We’ve been building all season towards this. I raced with this team in Austria and the Vuelta a Burgos and we just continue to improve.
“Spirits are high and I’m looking forward to the rest of this month. For me personally, I’m still in shock.”
Stage five features few flat areas and sees riders travel 188.7 kilometres from Granada to Roquetas de Mar on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Rik Sharma; Editing by Toby Davis)