John Degenkolb takes stage four of Vuelta a Espana

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German rider John Degenkolb won stage four of the Vuelta a Espana in impressive style, by out sprinting Vicente Reyes and Michael Matthews on a scorching hot day in the south of Spain.

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Stage four took the riders 164.7km from Mairena del Alcor to Cordoba.

Degenkolb, who represents Team Giant Shimano, pushed away from his rivals in the final kilometre on a day that had it's fair share of hills.

Degenkolb said on winning the stage: "It was a little bit of a gamble. If I didn't succeed today I knew I would definitely lose some energy for tomorrow. I just tried to do everything today, went all in and in the end it worked out."

Matthews, the 23-year-old Australian, retained his race leader's red jersey, however is only eight seconds ahead of Colombian Nairo Quintana in general classification, and 15 ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.

Overall race leader Matthews explained the final sprint: "There were some non-sprinters trying to get up in amongst the sprint in the final.

"I guess when these guys get in between us sprinters there's going to be a bit of hectic stuff. Our main goal is to keep the red jersey and I wasn't going to risk crashing to be there in the final."

Stage five

On stage five, Matthews said: "Tomorrow is a stage that suits me again so we'll give it another go and try and be there in the final. It's only stage five and there are a lot of stages to go so I might give the boys a rest."

With approximately 35km left, two time Vuelta winner Valverde broke away from the peloton, followed by Winner Anacona of Colombia, Britain’s Adam Yates and Frenchman Romain Sicard.

Into the final nine km and the break away was caught with Teams Orica, BMC, Tinkoff-Saxo and Katusha all pushing riders towards the front of the peloton, preparing their lead-outs for a bunch sprint.

Simon Clarke of Orica sat on the front, pushing the pace higher and higher, trying to crack the peloton and keep the red jersey safely with his team mate Matthews.

Adam Hansen from Lotto Belosol then shot off the front with 1.5km left to race and almost immediately produce a gap of about 50 metres, however he couldn't hold it and was brought back just before the run in to the finish.

The finish was messy and became a free for all, giving Degenkolb the opportunity to grab the win.

Brit Adam Yates explained at the finish: "I had a go, but we'll try again tomorrow."

Team Sky's Chris Froome is sat down in 15th place, with a deficit of 35 seconds to Matthews.  

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