The fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia was the toughest day of racing yet, taking in 187 kilometers, over 3,000 metres of elevation, and hours of terrible weather on the road to Sestola in the northern Apennines.
The day was always going to be the first major general classification flashpoint of the race, with the 4.3-kilometer, 9.9 per cent Colle Passerino coming two kilometers from the finish, and it did not disappoint.
Israel Start-Up Nation's Alessandro De Marchi captured the maglia rosa after taking second place from the breakaway behind Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), but further down the climb, the general classification heavyweights were landing their first blows of the Giro.
How hard a day it was in the saddle was made evident on the final climb, as a select group of GC men separated themselves from the rest.
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) was among the big GC winners of the day. The Colombian, making his Giro debut this year, led Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) across the line, 1:37 down on Dombrowski but with time in hand over the rest of the big contenders.
Ciccone and Landa had been the first men to attack, at 4 and 3.5 kilometers out respectively, luring the others across as they sought to distance the likes of Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), among others.
They succeeded, with Bernal, Vlasov, and Carthy chasing across midway up the climb, and the group making 11 seconds on the next group of GC men at the line.
Evenepoel led that group into Sestola, the young Belgian joined by Yates, Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Davide Formolo (UAE Team Emirates), and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious).
23 seconds passed before Vincenzo Nibali's group came home. The two-time winner was among those shedding 34 seconds to the Bernal group and was accompanied across the line by Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka Assos), Jai Hindley (Team DSM), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Marc Soler (Movistar), and the Ineos Grenadiers duo of Pavel Sivakov and Daniel Martínez.
Jumbo-Visma's George Bennett will be disappointed tonight, too, having finished 3:06 down and losing 1:29 to Bernal's group.
A revelation of the race last year, João Almeida's hopes of overall contention already look over after the 22-year-old was dropped five kilometers from the finish. Deceuninck-QuickStep will now have all their eggs in the Evenepoel basket after Almeida shed minutes at the finish, eventually crossing the line 5:58 after the winner.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|7||Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech|
|8||Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:04|
|10||Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo||0:00:14|
|11||Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:15|
|12||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:19|
|13||Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:00:20|
|15||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:25|
|16||Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange|
|18||Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:32|
|19||Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM||0:00:39|
|20||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:00:41|
|21||Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation||0:00:44|
|22||Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers|
|23||Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:46|
|24||Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:48|
|25||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:00:51|
|26||Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:52|
|27||Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM||0:00:56|
|29||Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:01:05|
|34||George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma||0:01:46|
|42||João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:04:14|
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