Report: Giro d’Italia Stage 4

What a stage the fourth one in the Giro d’Italia was – rain made life very uncomfortable for the riders and after a breakaway stayed away providing Joe Dombrowski with a spring board for victory, there was also a GC battle with winners and losers as Alessandro De Marchi rode away in Pink

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Report: Giro d’Italia Stage 4

Photo Giro d’Italia Website

The fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia took the peloton from Piacenza to the climb up to Sestola. Rated as a medium difficulty stage, the parcour may not have had the legendary climbs the race encompasses in the coming weeks but the climbs were still hard enough to do some damage and so it proved. Add to the mix some pouring rain on smooth tarmac and all the ingredients were there for a spectacular battle between the GC contenders.

The first 70 kilometres were rather flat, however the second half of the course featured many climbs with only three counting in the mountain classification but many others just as difficult. The top of the last climb, Colle Passerino (4.3 km at 9.5%), stood just under 2 kilometres from the finish.

Immediately after the official start, the Belgians Quinten Hermans and Campenaerts fought for nearly 30 kilometres in an attempt to break away. The duo was then joined in their initiative by 23 other riders, including many less than a minute down on the Pink jersey Ganna. Approaching the first climb of Castello di Carpenti (3 km at 7.8%), the breakaway were almost six minutes ahead.

Out front, the riders in the breakaway battled for the KoM points before three riders escaped from the breakaway, Hermans, Taaramäe and Juul Jensen. They quickly created a gap on the rest of the breakaway, and enjoyed up to two minutes lead as they tackled the steep climb to Montemolino (2 km at 11%), located 40 km from the finish. Hermans slipped away from the leaders leaving Taaramäe and Juul Jensen to fight to stay away not just in the hope of a stage win but also the Pink jersey.

Photo Giro d’Italia Website

After being as much as eight minutes down, the peloton’s deficit was five minutes as the race entered the last 30 kilometres of the stage. Only 53 seconds behind Ganna in the overall standings, Taaramäe swapped turns with Jensen but the gap with the chasers remained around a minute. The leaders approached the last climb with this slim advantage. But the steep four kilometres at 10% average proved fatal for Taaramäe and Jensen.

Meanwhile, on the steep slopes of the final climb, there was also a battle raging behind in what was left of the peloton. After the pace setting by the Bahrain team had slimmed down the peloton, also helped by Quickstep, GC hopefuls like Joao Almeida were starting to struggle as a former winner on the climb, Giulio Ciccone, went off in search of another. That didn’t happen but Landa attacked and bridged across to Ciccone and was joined by the likes of Bernal and Carthy looking to gain as much as they could before the finish.

Meanwhile Alessandro De Marchi and Joe Dombrowski went off in pursuit of Taaramäe and Jensen. Dombrowski gapped De Marchi and raced straight past Jensen and Taaramäe and kept on going all the way to the finish line. Whilst Dombrowski got to put his hands in the air, De Marchi was second on the stage and took the lead of the General Classification and that Pink jersey.

As expected, there were a number of races today, one for the stage won by Dombrowski. In the GC battle, Bernal was first across the line (11th) in a group of five GC riders ahead of Remco Evenpoel who headed up the next GC group with Simon Yates and Dan Martin. There was also a third battle from the riders in the breakaway to take the pink jersey and enjoy the moment (De Marchi). Oh, and a 4th where pre race, the riders expected to be GC contenders had to limit losses to try and stay in the race … Nibali for example lost time but not a lot, as did Jai Hindley. George Bennett however lost even more and Joao Almeida lost almost six mins.


Photo Giro d’Italia Website

Alessandro De Marchi, the new Maglia Rosa (Pink jersey): “I must say that the goal was the Maglia Rosa. I started thinking about that maybe two days ago. I also must say that I didn’t tell nobody this! And then today was really to just find the good move. I knew it could be tricky, the start, and with a big bunch I was right to go, to try to go in the back door. And then it was about a bit of luck and the right move, and here we are and I am without words really. In the end, it’s the dream of every cyclist, especially if you are Italian. Maybe I never really think about that, and today, when I realised there was an opportunity, I really started to dream about that. I was scared to have lost the opportunity in the middle of the race when the three guys went in front and we were quite behind. I was quite scared that I was too late, but then, again, the old rule worked perfectly: never give up!!”

Joe Dombrowski, stage 4 winner “Yes, really happy with today, obviously. You know?, it’s hard to know what was going to happen if it was a group of GC riders, or if maybe the breakaway would have enough time. I was feeling good in the last 50 kms, and just trying not to do too much work and be a bit conservative because I knew this last climb was really a tough one. And, yeah, I was able to get the gap. It wasn’t enough for the Pink Jersey but I think the stage win is a nice way to finish the day. I think, once I saw the gap go out for the breakaway, for a while we were at four and a half minutes, and then at one point we had seven and a half, eight, and then I was thinking, “OK, this group has a good chance to stay away, but you just need to stay attentive for splits,” because when you have a group of 25 riders, it’s not always, well, it’s never everyone cooperating, so you need to be ready for attacks. I was able to follow everything, and I knew De Marchi was maybe the strongest rider in the breakaway, so if I always took his wheel, I would be in a good spot.”

Remco Evenepoel: “The final climb was a tough one and the weather didn’t help. The effort I had to do was a short and intense one, something that I didn’t do for some time now, and I think I managed it well. When the others attacked, I didn’t want to explode and so rode at my own pace. I think I managed it well, losing just a few seconds. My body needs to get used to this kind of racing again, but overall, I am satisfied with this stage. A big thanks to the boys for protecting me today.”

Rein Taaramäe: (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert ) “Quinten Hermans was very strong today, and with 2 men in front we were in an ideal situation. Together, we attacked at the top of Castello di Carpineti. The idea was to make the difference far from the finish, knowing that the rest of the stage was up and down nonstop. We kept up the pace as much as possible, in view of a stage win or even the pink jersey. Although I narrowly missed the reward, I collected valuable points in the mountain classification, which could become an objective. I enjoyed this day, and the bad weather was not to displease me because I love the rain. But more importantly, what I like is to attack. We will be back for more.”

Giulio Ciccone (12th)  “I have nothing to lose, just like yesterday”, Ciccone says afterwards.  Ciccone was the first attacker on the final climb to the Colle Passerino. Then he was able to move along when some favorites also attacked and joined him. “I wanted to follow my gut,” says Ciccone of his attack. “I still have to have some confidence after not being able to race for the past month. I wanted to attack and I followed my instincts. ”

Vincenzo Nibali  The Shark of Messina finished in Sestola 34 seconds behind the group Ciccone. “It was a tough day. I will not deny that I suffered. But I am quite satisfied. It could end worse in this first tough Giro stage. Fortunately, the damage was limited, ”says Nibali.

Chris Juul-Jensen: “It was certainly a harder day than I expected, but I also did not expect to be in a position to fight for the stage win. It was a hectic start, many attacks and wet conditions. After 30km I was away in a group of 25riders and made sure to spend as little energy as possible. Our only goal was to have a rider represented in any big groups.

As the stage rode into the mountains, I stayed close to the front and was well positioned on the descents which resulted in me opening up a good gap with two Wanty riders 50km from the finish. From then on it was a matter of managing my energy as I knew there would be a chance of riding for the stage win as Rein Tararamae was mainly interested in taking the pink jersey.

Unfortunately, the last climb proved to be too hard and our gap too small for me to pull off the win. Obviously, I’m disappointed, I would have loved to have taken a win for the team so early in the Giro. Nevertheless, I gave it my best effort, such is life and cycling that you often lose more than you win, but that doesn’t mean you give up and don’t try again the next day.”

Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin Fenix) (4th) “Our team tactic was to get me in the breakaway today, a stage I already had in mind. It’s nice to see that everyone was committed to close gaps when I wasn’t part of a breakaway attempt. In the end I made it in the breakaway, achieving our first team goal. I felt pretty good, I think among the three strongest riders in the breakaway group. It gave me a little bit too much courage, because I did a lot of work at the front. I wanted to take up responsibility and worked hard chasing Taaramae and Juul-Jensen.”

“I wanted to get as close as possible, because I believed in a stage win. Unfortunately, I overestimated myself a bit at the foot of the last climb: I went all-out, but Dombrowski and De Marchi countered me. I regret that move. Maybe I could have stayed a bit longer with them, although I believe they were the strongest riders in our group. I would have liked to finish inside the top three, I’m a bit disappointed about that. But it was a nice day, and I’m proud of myself and of the team!”

Romain Bardet (DSM): “It was quite a hard stage with the pouring rain all day and some tricky climbs but I think it went quite well for us,” said Bardet at the finish. “I was not too far from the front on the last climb when the attacks came so I think in the end it was a good stage. The guys protected me and Jai very well all day long. I think we can build on that and the legs are okay, and will improve day-by-day. It was a nice day and we’re looking forward to more.”

Jai Hindley (DSM): “It was a super strong team effort by the guys today,” explained Hindley. “We had Nico up the road which was good so we could just sit in the bench and the rest of the guys protected us nicely the whole day. It was a testing route; it was always up or down, and left or right and that was made even harder by the wet conditions. The guys positioned us well for the final climb and it was a good run to the line where the legs did the talking. Romain was up in the mix which was nice and I wasn’t too far behind, so overall it was a good day.”

Vlasov “It was a very hard and very cold day. I think, everyone was on the limit today. I did all I could on the final climb and I am happy I was up there in front with the strongest riders”

Emanuel Buchmann “It was a really hard day, even more so with the rain from start to finish. The team did a very good job supporting me throughout the stage and Felix was with me in the finale. I wasn’t able to follow the first group that went off in the final 500 metres of the last climb and lost some seconds. We knew in advance that this stage wasn’t perfect for me but the Giro is still long.”

Attila Valter (White jersey): Sixth on the fourth stage after a long breakaway, and now fifth in the general classification “The biggest achievement of my career so far”, Attila Valter says.  “To be honest, I suffered a lot today, but when I see the last climb, I always find better legs,” he said later. “I think it’s my best result yet in such a big event. Honestly, it was such a hard day that I need a few minutes to realize what happened,” he said shortly after the finish. “Right now, I just can’t wait to get back to the bus to warm up. To be honest, we’re only at the start of this Giro and I don’t feel in my best shape yet, so I’m really happy to be in such a good position after just four stages. I don’t know what the future of the race will hold for me, but I can say it’s the biggest achievement of my career so far. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m super happy. These days help a lot to gain confidence. We will see how long I can defend this jersey but I will just give my best. Now, I have the motivation to go again in the breakaway and fight for the win.”


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