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George Bennett 'overcome and broken' by the cold in first big Giro d'Italia test

Giro dItalia 2021 104th Edition 4th stage Piacenza Sestola 187 km 11052021 George Bennett NZL Jumbo Visma photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021
George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) during the fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia to Sestola (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The constant rain that fell over Emilia-Romagna on stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia made the 187km route a much more draining affair than it appeared on paper, and Jumbo-Visma leader George Bennett was one of the riders who paid the price. 

The conditions were the same for everyone but everyone reacts differently to them, with Bennett more suited to warm weather, according to his team director.

By the final climb of the Colle Passerino, the New Zealand champion had been reduced to a sodden, shivering figure, and he lost contact when Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) kicked off the attacks on the steep gradients. 

Tobias Foss, second overall at the start of the day and wearing the white jersey as best young rider, was ordered to pace his leader to try and limit the damage. By the finish, where Bennett placed 38th, it was 1:29 to Landa and the other leading pre-race favourites.

"It was not a good day. It didn't go as we hoped and expected," said Jumbo-Visma director Addy Engels. 

"The circumstances were difficult because of the bad weather. George was overcome by the cold in the end and that broke him up. Some people digest it better than others, but that is no excuse. We know from George that he cannot take it well. In the end, he loses a minute and a half on the first classification men and with the help of Tobias he has limited the damage somewhat."

Unlike Deceuninck-QuickStep's João Almeida, who shipped four minutes, Bennett's losses were not enough to rule him out of the picture at this Giro d'Italia. 

He lost 1:29 to Landa, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Alexander Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo), and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo).

However, it was 1:18 to the next group on the road, including Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), and Romain Bardet (Team DSM), and 55 seconds to the group containing Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), Jai Hindley (Team DSM), and Emanuel Buchmann). 

Bennett is now 34th overall, 1:46 down on the leading genuine title contender, Vlasov. 

"This loss is a lot on such a climb, but on the other hand we have also just started," Engels said. 

"Much can still change in three weeks, as we have seen in the past. There is no reason to change tack yet."

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.