Jakobsen tops Bennett in photo finish, wins fourth Vuelta stage

Fabio Jakobsen. (David Middlecamp/The Tribune of San Luis Obispo via AP)

EL PUIG, Spain — With his eyes closed, Fabio Jakobsen beat Sam Bennett in a photo finish to win the fourth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Tuesday, while Nicolas Roche kept the overall lead ahead of Nairo Quintana.

Jakobsen fended off a strong charge by Bennett in the final meters (yards) of the 175-kilometre (109-mile) ride from Cullera to El Puig on Spain’s eastern coast.

"I couldn’t see because I closed my eyes, Sam was so close," said Jakobsen, who will turn 23 on Saturday. "I went for the line and threw my bike. When I saw people from the team cheering I knew I had won. This is a big one."

It was the first Grand Tour stage win for the Dutch rider from team Deceuninck-Quiock Step.

"To win in a Grand Tour is one of the things you dream of as a sprinter," Jakobsen said. "In my head I thought I could do it, but you never know for sure. To win a stage of La Vuelta wearing the colours of your country is amazing."

Bennett won Monday’s third stage with team Bora-Hansgrohe.

"This one hurts a lot," the Irishman said. "It was really hard to position myself in the final kilometres. On the last roundabout I lost many positions because I chose the wrong side. I really forced this one to happen but it just didn’t go as I hoped for."

Roche, an Irishman with Team Sunweb, finished safely in the peloton. He will carry a two-second lead over Quintana entering Wednesday’s fifth stage, which will take riders 170 kilometres (105 miles) from the city of L’Eliana to a finish by an astronomical observatory in Arcos de las Salinas.

"I had to make sure we were out of trouble," Roche said. "Tomorrow will be a completely different scenario. I expect fireworks from the Colombian riders. I know it is going to be very difficult to keep the red jersey, it might be very ambitious to aim at doing so, but I am going to do my best and fight until the last meter."

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.