Vuelta a Espana stage four: photo gallery

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Vuelta a Espana stage four: photo gallery

Stage four of the 2012 Vuelta a Espana brought a successful breakaway, another battle royal between the two pre-race favourites, and controversy.

Team Sky’s decision to press on in pursuit of the breakaway trio of Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE), Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Assan Bazayev (Astana) while deposed race leader, Alejandro Valverde and many of his teammates recovered from a crash drew criticism from Movistar’s management.

But the British team defended their action and Chris Froome continued to live up to the role of team leader by going wheel-to-wheel with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) for a second consecutive day.

Here are some of the key moments, captured by photographer, Stefano Sirotti.

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Tony Martin and Simon Clarke led for almost the entire stage, ending it with a head-to-head for the win

Simon Clarke celebrates the first win of his four-year professional career after outwitting Tony Martin in the sprint for the line

Martin’s disappointment (and exhaustion) are evident 

Further down the mountain, the excitement unfolded as Chris Froome and Alberto Contador spent another day in close proximity

Joaquim Rodriguez ended the day in the red jersey of race leader

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