• Team Sky looking strong on stage 4 of the Vuelta a Espana (Getty)Source: Getty
With just six seconds separating Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana on GC, and Alejandro Valverde ahead of Froome by four, Movistar and Sky engaged in some subtle shenanigans on stage 4 of the Vuelta a Espana. And it was good to see.
Cycling Central
24 Aug 2016 - 3:22 PM  UPDATED 24 Aug 2016 - 3:39 PM

The shots across the bow may be subtle but they still happened. 

On the final climb, Movistar punished the group that remained, rider after rider falling back. It was almost "Skybot" like. 

Peter Kennaugh (7th overall overnight) defied Movistar launching an attack for the men in black. Movistar immediately reacted. Overnight leader Ruben Fernandez was sacrificed, pulling a turn to claw back Kennaugh.

That's a shot back across the bow.  

"It was just to put a bit of pressure on the Movistar guys," Froome said.

"It was interesting to see the red jersey Fernandez got on the front there when Pete attacked and did his pull."

"(Movistar) are playing quite a tactical game at the moment. They seemed quite happy to let the red jersey go today.

They weren't in any kind of hurry to bring the break back, even though they had all nine riders there coming into the final. I think they are trying to save their legs a bit thinking about the next few weeks.'

Alejandro Valverde seemed to agree with the 2016 Tour de France winner. 

“Conceding the GC lead was written down on our plan for the day. The Vuelta is still four days old, and we knew that such a big break should be sticking.

"The important thing for us is that all GC contenders came together at the finish and both my legs and Nairo's felt well - the day's overview is overall positive."

Froome too assessed Sky's situation. 

"I think we're in a pretty good position. We'd prefer to just save a bit for the last half of the race." (Yeah, that's a shot too). 

But Froome is a competitor. The guy likes to race and to win. He couldn't help himself. 

"At the same time I wouldn't turn down the opportunity to go for the leader's jersey," he told reporters. 

"If I had the opportunity, then I'd go for it."

Movistar and Sky may have kept their powder dry today and there's a lot of climbing and kilometres left, but it looks like Movistar and Sky are itching to race.