Another day, another uphill sprint in a Sicilian village and that’s a good thing after yesterday’s lively finish.
Stage 4 review: a hard day into a headwind. Tim Wellens won the stage after a nervous sweep around the town of Caltagirone in the final five kilometres. The Belgian was the best in the sprint among what was left of the peloton after crashes and street furniture took their toll, as well as the gradient.
UAE-Emirates earlier tried to split the race, apparently attacking just as Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin had stopped for a break but the move didn’t work and the day’s breakaway was given more room to ride away. The team is now at risk of being served a dish of cold revenge during the next three weeks. Among the GC riders Simon Yates in the mix for the win while Chris Froome lost a bit more time after being caught out by the splits in the front group, as did Miguel Angel Lopez.
The Route: 153km making it the shortest road stage of the race, excluding Stage 21’s Roman victory parade. After rolling out of Agrigento the first 50km head west tracking the coast but often inland on lumpy roads and along clifftops. There are three fourth category climbs with second rate descents. The ascents are steady, often 5% and on long straight roads amid the olive groves.
The Finish: another hilltop town but a different feel. With 2.2km to go the route climbs for the most part at 6% but including 12% which will thin out the group but for the most part it’s really 4-5% at best. After arriving in town and passing under the flamme rouge the road dips down to a tight turn to the right with 400m to go and then rises gently before another sharp right-hander and the 250m finishing straight.
The Contenders: this is a flat sprint after a sharp climb and several climbs during the stage so can any of the sprinters make it to the final bend without wooden legs? Probably not and the final climb into Santa Ninfa is like yesterday’s stage, only with a flatter finish. There’s a greater chance of a breakaway staying away but once BMC Racing have contained the day’s move several teams are likely to chase in order to ensure a reduced bunch sprint.
Enrico Battaglin (Lotto-Jumbo) has won a stage before in the Giro and his third place yesterday was a good result, now he’ll find the flatter finish to his liking. He’s the prime pick for today although nobody looks like a three chainring certainty.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-FixAll) was the best yesterday and if today’s finish is not uphill to the line he’ll find the climb up into town to his liking. Max Schachmann (Quick Step) crashed in Caltagirone yesterday but got up and got back on, he was so good he kept his white jersey and he’s a pick for today.
Pello Bilbao (Astana) has a second chance. Among the GC candidates Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) can sprint well from a reduced group.
|Enrico Battaglin, Max Schachmann
|Wellens, Dennis, Bilbao, Yates, Betancur
Weather: cloudy, cool at 19°C and the chance of rain.
TV: Host broadcaster RAI offers the best coverage, Eurosport has the rights for many countries across Europe and Australia and it’s streamed via Fubo in the US and Dazn in Japan. The finish is forecast for 5.15pm.