Thomas de Gendt took the Stage 4 victory but it was the general classification battle featuring Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Australia's Richie Porte which was another highlight of the Volta a Catalunya.

De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) got the win after finishing the 172km stage from Baga to Porte Aine, which featured two categorised summits, in just under five hours.

Quintana (Movistar) was next up the snowy ascent, crossing over a minute later after he dropped Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), who sits second overall.

Porte (BMC) edged out Contador at the line to finish the stage third, and is third overall at 17seconds behind Quintana, followed by the previous leader, Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep), at 24 seconds.

De Gendt caught and passed Pieter Weening up the final 18km climb to the finish to claim his first stage win since the 2013 edition of the race. 

“It’s three years since my last victory. This is very emotional. I am really glad that Lotto Soudal gave me a chance last year and that I can give this victory to the team. I am very proud," de Gendt said.

“It was an uphill start, on a third category climb. After about eight kilometres I started to attack and I got in front with a nice group. We cooperated well and also got a lot of space from the peloton. None of us had a high overall ranking so that was an advantage. Still, afterwards the gap suddenly dropped to six minutes.”

“After the first hors catégorie climb, with about sixty kilometres to go, when the others were eating or taking care of their clothes (Imanol) Erviti took a lead of a few metres and set a high pace. I immediately felt like I had to follow him because I didn’t feel great today.

"I thought that when the others would attack uphill it would be over for me, so I decided to ride away with Erviti. Pieter Weening bridged to us and then started a solo.

"I didn’t panic and kept my own pace. First I was only thinking about defending the second place, because that’s also a fantastic result in the queen stage of a WorldTour race, but then I saw Weening. Then I went full gas with the victory as result.”

Quintana entered the day in fifth place at 19 seconds behind Martin but turned that deficit into an eight-second advantage over Contador.

Friday's fifth stage is a 187-kilometre ride from Rialp to Valls.

The weeklong race in northeastern Spain ends in Barcelona on Sunday.

Friday 25 Mar 2016

"Today I felt better than on La Molina. It has been a great day. The team worked hard all stage, keeping me at the front as they have since Monday.

"We had Erviti in the break. We were hoping that he would lend a hand later on, but, in the end, he was going backwards and I had to go on the attack. I saw my opportunity and took full advantage of it.

"I had the condition to launch a big attack and make up the gap that opened in the final kilometre yesterday, and some besides. I have been taking care of myself since returning home from San Luis, and I have worked hard in order to be able to start the European season in good shape. This is my reward."

 

Richie Porte

 
"Our team in the final there were great. Tejay and I showed that we can work together so it was a good day. Samuel Sanchez did a fantastic job on the final climb. He took us up to the three kilometre to go mark and then for Tejay to attack like that, he set is up so well. I think Tejay was the most aggressive. He was the first one to fire off the attacks so full credit to him."
 

Tejay van Garderen

 
"I feel like we had a great day as a team. Brent Bookwalter really deserves the VIP award for the best teammate and it was great to see Sanchez coming into form on the climb. It was a lot of fun being able to race the big guys with Richie there at the end. It's too bad we couldn't get the better of Quintana but we were both right there in the mix. The first race with Richie is a huge success I think."