Giro d’Italia Stage 4 Preview

It’s only the fourth stage and Tuesday but here’s a mountain stage with a tough final climb to make today one for the GC riders.

Matthews strikes in Melfi: just up the road from the finish in Melfi is the Fiat Chrysler factory where briefly workers went on strike to protest at the signing of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo by Juventus, both the factory and the football club share the same ownership and workers were disgruntled by the millions spent on a footballer. Yesterday’s arrival of the Giro could have had trade unionists on edge given the millionaire sports stars arriving in town for a day but they’d surely recognise the work involved as Jayco-Al Ula were among several teams toiling in the stage to control things, in the Giro there can be no goal hangers. Sure enough Monte Vulture was enough to eject some sprinters and blunt the legs of others who were able to hang on and in the finish Michael Matthews took a flyer on the finishing straight to hold off Mads Pedersen.

The Route: 184km inland via a passo, a valico , a sella and a colle, all synonyms for mountain passes. First through some unmarked climbs, they’re not steep but launchpads for big ring attacks early in the stage.

The Passo delle Crocelle isn’t steep either, a big ring climb as well, likewise Monte Caruozzo, often 4-5%. But each are 20km long and feel like they go on forever.

The Finish: how hard is the final climb? Past winners here are classics contender and sideburn supremo Roger De Vlaeminck, grand tour rider Alex Zülle and the rickety-kneed Domenico Pozzovivo and the synthesis of these wins is that it’s a sustained climb but a fast one, the peloton can fly up here and riders can benefit from drafting a lot here. It’s got a steep section in the middle but it suits a peloton well. Once at the pass there’s three kilometres to go, and all on a wide flat road.

The Contenders: Remco Evenepoel has all but deployed a megaphone to tell the breakaway he’d be delighted if they stay away for the day and help him out of the maglia rosa. Yet he can’t make a break stay clear for the day and he’s even got a chance here to extend his lead with a stage win. Similarly Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) could deploy his team to ride and keep Evenepoel in pink, and then give their leader the shot at the stage win. Ditto Ineos for Tao Geoghegan Hart.

If a breakaway can stay clear it’s a lottery to pick the likely members. They’ll need to cope with the final climb and be able to handle the flat finish. Andrea Vendrame (Ag2r Citroën), Samuele Battistella (Astana), Andreas Leknessund (DSM) and Simon Clarke (Israel) come to mind but take your pick among others.

Geoghegan Hart, Roglič
Vendrame, Evenepoel, Battistella

Weather: wet, the sun might come out mid-stage but it’ll be damp and no more than a chilly 17°C.

TV: tune in to catch the final climb with 30 minutes to go, the finish is forecast for 5.15pm CEST.

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

  1. As our dear leader implies this could be the battle of the mountain trains. I think Ineos are physically stronger but tactically weaker leaving Evenepoel to pick up the pieces.

    • I fear Ineos may ride on the front all stage only for Evenepoel and/or Roglic to sprint away from them at the end. I don’t know why they still try to control races when they (usually) no longer have the riders to finish them off.

      • Sure enough Ineos pulled everyone up the final climb & got nothing for it, though at least they didn’t lose anything either.

  2. Given the uphill start and little flat all day is there a chance of riders missing the cut today. Or is the stage a bit to long and not hard enough for that. And the riders still fresh i guess.

  3. Starting the day with a smile after IR’s reference to “sideburn supremo” and gitan, Roger De Vlaeminck. A classic image of seventies cycling, Roger crouching on the tops (very aero for the day) in Brooklyn – but never UCI – stripes. Eddy was a sideburn supemo too along with other stars of the day such as Watney classics strong man, Frans Veerbeeck.

    • Well, he did wear the stripes in cyclocross, and had road WCs in amateur and U23. In elite road, he did generally have rainbow stripe bands in the collar and cuffs of his jersey though – was that from his U23 road WC?

    • One of my favorite scenes from “Sunday in Hell” when they arrive in their personal cars with bikes on the rack in back. The sideburns, the leisure suit and then later Aldo Gios with the almost Beatle’s like haircut hopping out of the Brooklyn car.
      You’ve reminded me to watch “Stars and Watercarriers” and “The Greatest Show on Earth” again 🙂

      • Great films all of those. The slow burn of Sunday in Hell, building up from pre-race – riders eating, getting massaged, mechanics checking stuff, cycling out together to the start in the cold morning – through to the race, is a great bit of tension building. They don’t make them like that anymore.

  4. Yesterday had a very retro feel, the peloton ambling along with a no hope break up front. You almost expected to see an old fashioned “Patron” controlling the race (if Sean Kelly is to be believed) throwing water bottles at any rider who dared disturb the status quo.

    Whatever Remco Evenepoel statements to the media he does not look like a rider who would willingly hand over the jersey. Perhaps he is getting a bit tired of all the media faff and wants to hide away for a few days but easier said than done. Maybe a strong break will go but this stage seems more like a GC test to me.

    • I came to comment on exactly this issue. Yes, that’s what I’m hoping. But I think he’s too much of a potential dark horse to let go and build up time. A tantalising thought nonetheless!

  5. If I were the other teams I’d try to make Remco keep the pink jersey to add to his overall stress in the race but there is a chance this works in Remco’s favour and he gets a free ride to the top and ends up winning.

  6. Jayco fianlly get their day in the sun, but it must just be one day. Could be two races today, if the breakaway is a good one and QS, Ineos & Jumbo don’t chase. Remco & QS have the problem that with 2 tt’s still to come, the other GC contenders might well go for every second possible.
    Prediction for today – big breakaway (20 riders or thereabouts) and new man in pink.

  7. TGH with more stars than Remco. Because sprint finish? Remco’s kick is way better than before and with his level he should have more gas in the tank at the finish?

  8. It’s not too soon to have one of those days where the first two hours are a massive scrap to get in the break, but the race never settles because GC hopefuls won’t stop trying to be in it.

    • My feeling too, I suspect we are going to see a GC fight for bonus seconds, having a lead out left at the top of the climb might be pretty critical

  9. The aggressiveness with which Remco went for the intermediate sprint point struck me. He was determined to beat Primoz for it. Primoz, on the other hand, going for it, but then almost sat down seeing just how much energy Remco was putting in to it. That and the TT make me wonder if Remco isn’t a little too hyped for a 1st week of a long 3.

    • I found myself thinking the same – I wonder if Roglic’s intention was just to keep Remco under pressure and to see how he’d react, continuing their duel from Catalunya, and knowing now that Remco will react and use up energy – if that’s the case, it was an interesting early ‘chess move’ from Roglic…

      On the other hand, it could just be that Jumbo’s leadout backfired when Remco very nicely slotted himself in front of Roglic to clean up the bonus seconds!

  10. let me get this straight… ALL of Remco’s team fell off the pace… so Remco was isolated…. AND WHY IN THE WORLD DID BAHRAIN PULL ON THE FRONT????

    If the pink jersey is isolated, either FORCE him to pull the entire peloton, OR send GC riders on the attack?

    Please correct me?

        • Ok, my last comment on this – but, here’s the scenario:

          ~ 5.5/6km to go on mountain top finish, gap from GC riders to the break is 2:51, Remco (pink jersey, and head and shoulder favourite to win) has lost ALL teammates.
          ~ At this point, Remco would lose the pink jersey by 1:20 and he has no one to help him pull. The responsibility to either a) keep jersey or b) give it up is entirely in Remco’s hands. Remco has to pull.
          ~ Instead, Ineos, Bahrain, and other GC riders cover the front and pull back the virtual leader to only 30 seconds – AN EASY gap for Remco to close in future
          ~ Ineos, et al weren’t even rewarded for their efforts with a stage win… all they did was maintain their gaps BEHIND the projected pink jersey winner.

          A much better strategy would have been to let Remco chase – every single other rider needs to line up behind Remco’s wheel. At best, Remco is forced to work himself, which softens him up for later in the race AND every other GC rider gets a huge break.

          • Why would Remco pull? He openly wanted to lose the jersey to a non-GC threat. It doesn’t really matter much how much he loses it by. All his rivals lose the same amount of time to the non-threat new leader.

            Attacking him when he’s isolated is a more sensible idea, but as Inrng says, probably too soon, as well as not hard enough. If he’s going to struggle it will almost certainly be on longer, harder efforts. Attacking here risks a counter-attack no one can follow.

            I’m sure the weakness of his helpers was duly noted for later, higher, harder stages.

          • You wanted Remco to be forced to control how much the gap was… not Ineos. For Remco to work for 5/6km uphill. Then he is doing the work, not a Sky domestique

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