Giro d'Italia 2020: Stage 4 preview

Stage 4: Catania to Villafranca Tirrena

Date: October 6, 2020 

Distance: 140km 

Stage start: 12:15pm CEST

Stage type: Hilly/Flat Finish

Although the profile of the final Sicilian stage is dominated by the long climb of the Portella Mandrazzi, which should tempt a hopeful group of breakaways onto the attack, the pan-flat run-in along the top edge of the island’s north-eastern tip should swing the advantage towards the sprinters for the first time in this race.

The stage starts in Sicily’s second city of Catania, where Britain’s Chris Boardman and the USA’s Karen Kurreck won the inaugural world individual time trial titles in 1994. It heads north along the coast, before turning inland and uphill at Taormina, renowned for its Greek theatre which has Etna as its smoking backdrop. Skirting the lower slopes on the volcano’s northern side, the route reaches the first intermediate sprint at Francavilla di Sicilia and, soon after, the third-category Portella Mandrazzi.

After descending steadily for 30 kilometres, the riders will reach Sicily’s northern coast and close to 40 kilometres of flat roads. The second intermediate sprint comes early in this high-speed stretch towards the finish at Villafranca Tirrena. Two kilometres from the finish, the route swings left off the main highway and onto a kilometre-long straight on the seafront, where the sprinters should go elbow to elbow for the first time.

The line-up of sprinters looks as impressive as it was at the Tour de France, and is arguably even better than it was for that race. Caleb Ewan, Elia Viviani and Peter Sagan are doubling up having completed the Tour, and will be up against two of the season’s in-form sprinters in Arnaud Démare and Fernando Gaviria. Dark horses such as Jakub Mareczko, Davide Ballerini and Rudy Barbier will be hoping to spring a surprise.

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