George Bennett has continued to move up the general classification at the Vuelta a Espana - but he may have missed out on a promising opportunity.

Bennett has finished in 23rd on stage four of the Vuelta, nestled safely amongst the group of favourites, who crossed the line 3.15 behind breakaway winner Ben King on another traditional summit finish.

It's a result that moves him up four spots in the overall rankings - from 17th to 13th - but you can't help but think that his Lotto NL-Jumbo team were hoping for more from either Bennett or his teammate Steven Kruijswijk.

After all, the team did all of the work on the early slopes of the 12 kilometre final climb, with rising talent Sepp Kuss putting in a superb effort to increase the pressure on the other riders.

Advertisement

The extended high pace all seemed like a plan to set up an attack from Bennett or Kruijswijk, but instead, the fruits of Kuss' labour were enjoyed by other contenders, who had the strength to attack and take back time.

The most ominous attack came from Simon Yates, who showed the form which made him Giro d'Italia leader with a typically aggressive effort. Yates escaped the main bunch to earn back 27 seconds over the rest of the favourites, while Emanuel Buchmann nabbed 25 and Miguel Angel Lopez took eight.

It left Lotto NL-Jumbo pondering what could have been, especially considering no real contenders were dropped from the group on the final climb's relatively comfortable average incline of 5.6 per cent. Michal Kwiatkowski still leads the race by seven seconds, with Buchmann and Yates moving up into the top three, but all the big favourites remained unscathed to all remain in the top 20.

Bennett sits comfortably amongst them, still 45 seconds off the lead, and although he couldn't - or didn't - attack today, the next two weeks remain where the race will be decided.

However, opportunities to earn time on your rivals are rare in Grand Tours, and with there unlikely to be any major time gaps over the next four stages, Bennett may have missed an opening.