Giro d’Italia Stage 4 Preview

The Giro is back in Italy and it’s straight into the mountains with a summit finish on Mount Etna.

The Route: the early part of the stage isn’t too selective, instead it’s just packed with stunning views and towns, like the baroque city of Noto just after the start.

The two intermediate sprints are close together, as always the first offers points for the points competition, the second has time bonuses and both count for the intermediate sprint competition and they’re on the lower slopes of Etna.

The Finish: it’s all about the big climb of Mount Etna, Italy’s biggest Bialetti stove top. There are several mains roads up, this uses some and also borrows some smaller tertiary roads to snake up. The middle section is the steepest and also where it gets narrow, there’s 2.5km at 8.7%. The final kilometre sees the road dip and then rises to the line with a turn left-hander with 250m to go.

The Contenders: most of the contenders for the maglia rosa have had a good time in Hungary but paradoxically they don’t want the lead just yet, it would oblige their team to ride on the front for the following days (teams just don’t want to break this convention) and they’d have the added fatigue of the daily media rounds. But it’s hard to engineer the scenario where a breakaway stays away and someone else gets the race lead, although Alpecin-Fenix are probably resigned to losing the jersey and won’t defend it tooth and nail today. There are not many riders well down on GC who can win a 20km summit finish yet not be a GC threat so picking a winner from the breakaway’s not easy, especially as we can cross off those names who should be on team duties today. Still riders like Jeferseon Cepeda and Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Zana (Bardiani-CSF) and Alessandro de Marchi (Israel) come to mind.

Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) is the first in line to take the race lead should the GC contenders come in together and has a tightrope to walk, to follow any danger moves while also being relaxed about giving up a little time to others so they’re sapped by the burden of the race lead. But for him and others like Richard Carapaz (Ineos) sometimes it’s best not to be too fussy and take any time possible. The flat finish at the top of Etna means someone who already needs to take back time like Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) or Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) has to go early on the steeper part to make gains but easier said than done. Instead riders like Pello Bilbao (Bahrain) or Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) can bide their time for a high altitude sprint. Is Lennard Kämna (Bora-hansgrohe) a GC contender, probably not and he could launch late. Finally local Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) seems in good form and could be one to watch.

Simon Yates, Richard Carapaz, Pello Bilbao
De Marchi, Valverde, M-A Lopez, Caicedo, Fortunato, Ciccone, Sosa

Weather: sunny then clouding over and it could rain by the foot of Etna, a cool 16°C.

Etna? It’s the muntagna to locals and sometimes called Mongibello on older maps, a combine of mountain and jebel, the Arabic for mountain. Rifugio Sapienza translates as “Knowledge Refuge”, conjuring up images of a science workstation on the volcano but it’s named after Giovannino Sapienza, a rock climber who died in the war, via Roads to Ride – Mount Etna.

TV: the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST. Tune in to catch the whole climb of Etna from 4.00pm.

23 thoughts on “Giro d’Italia Stage 4 Preview”

  1. Yates has only got 35 seconds on Carapaz so I doubt that he wants to give up any of those. I think they will all be trying.

    • He’s only got a 24 second gap. And I can’t see him trying to hard after his 2018 collapse – he’s already said before the race that he would race patiently – I think he’ll be happy with his gains from the TT and wait for more testing stuff later in the race.

  2. There’s a tradition that teams with the leader’s jersey in stage races ride to defend it, yet there’s no obligation. BEX don’t have the team to ride at the front Sky-style day after day, but given they also need ranking points a stage win for Yates would surely be worth having, even if they were to let the lead go tomorrow (and two stage wins would already be an acceptable Giro for many teams). A bird in the hand etc.

    • How would they let the lead go tomorrow? There seems no scenario where this will happen unless they lose it to a GC contender, which presumably they will not willingly do. The other possibility is a breakaway being let go and an outsider taking the jersey, but this would require all the teams looking for a sprint win to sit up, which isn’t happening at the Giro. Maybe Stage 7 is hard enough to drop the sprinters and let the breakaway go, leaving someone else in pink?

      • Even if you don’t lose it on the following stage if you don’t do to much to defend it you can force the sprinter teams to take the lions share of the work.

  3. Supposing Yates take the stage a jersey, he and his team would need to follow a maximum of six potential GC contenders on the subsequent stages. That seems reasonable – unless a no-hoper (De Muynck!) takes the lead and can’t be shifted.

  4. Normally a cagey stage with lots of sideway galnces. Bora have been active, but I’ll keep an eye out for Sosa and Ciccone. Will we see the Ineos train? Carapaz could do with the 10 second bonus so probably. Hope that Dumoulin can grind his way up to keep things interesting.

  5. My predictions for the stage are either that Ineos/BEX make it a really tough climb in an attempt to reduce the pool of contenders (especially guys who might be riding into form – Carthy and similar). Or that it’s cagey and a non-GC climber is given space to jump away from a lead group (Kamna, Cepeda, Vanhoucke?)

  6. Currently it seems fairly breezy at the finish, map I just looked at suggests gusts up to 50km/h though becoming calmer as the day goes on. Etna is a generally very windy place and this can have a significant effect on the outcome.

    I suspect not much is going to happen, a break will go and the GC crowd will roll in a few minutes behind. Far too early in the race for a decisive move. I guess Simon Yates will end up in pink by default, not really easy to “plan” to give it to someone else.

    • Ineos are on the front of the peloton at the moment and are gradually reeling in the breakaway.
      Maybe they will force Yates to be in pink by day’s end, if they ride strongly and force him to respond?

  7. Inrng – your question has been answered – Skyneos has reverted to their Froome/Wiggins routine and will command this GT – even if they’re a handful of GC guys behind pink. 6/7 other GC teams are ahead of them and Sky did the full mountain. Silly

    • We’ll see, yes they road in train formation but the TV coverage today showed them starting this, it didn’t show when they called it off, they didn’t ride to the top as a train. Nobody attacked them but it wasn’t a crushing display from them like the old days.

  8. From what I could see Ineos was not hard-pulling to drop riders out the back (a la Sky) but just pacing hard enough to keep attacks from flying as well as keeping Carapaz away from possible crashes.

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