Giro d'Italia: Joe Dombrowski wins stage 4 in Sestola

The USA’s Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) survived the rain and attacks to win stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, as the terrible conditions and steep climbs in the Apennines shook up the race.

Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) finished just 13 seconds down on Dombrowski after also being in the break and took the maglia rosa. He now leads Dombrowski by 22 seconds. The battle amongst the team leaders also exploded on the steep final Colle Passerino climb to Sestola, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) attacking on the climb.

They gained 11 seconds on Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep). Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segfredo) lost 34 seconds, while George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) lost even more and Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) cracked massively and lost 4:21 to the Bernal group. Dombrowski won the 2012 Under 23 Giro d’Italia and turned professional with Team Sky but his career was massively disrupted due to iliac artery surgery. His last success came at the 2019 Tour of Utah before he moved to UAE Team Emirates but he was back to his best at the Giro d’Italia.

“I was able to get a gap, it wasn't enough for the pink jersey but I think the stage win is a nice way to finish the day,” he said.

"I'm really happy with today, obviously. I was feeling good in the last 50km, and was just trying not to do too much work and be conservative because I knew the last climb was really a tough one.

"I needed to be ready for attacks and I was able to follow everything. I knew De Marchi was probably the strongest in the break so if I took his wheel I'd be in a good spot."

De Marchi missed out on the stage victory but was rewarded for 11 years of hard work as a professional and 11 years of going on the attack with the maglia rosa. He was understandably emotional after gaining enough time to take pink from fellow Italian Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), who sacrificed his chances early in the stage by working for Bernal and Pavel Sivakov. 

“I’d been thinking about the maglia rosa all stage and even in the last few days. I thought I’d lost my chance at one point and would have been devastated after making a mistake but the famous rule came true: Never give up. And in the, end it all worked out,” De Marchi said, with tears in his eyes. 

“I’m going to cry if I think about wearing the maglia rosa. This is a small reward for the thousands of attempts I made during my 11-year career. I’m going to try to really enjoy it. It’s for me and my wife Anna.”

How it unfolded

The riders gathered in Piacenza under grey and heavy skies, wrapped in rain jackets and ready for a long, important day that would climb high into the Apennines. The stage included 1,800 metres of climbing in the final 100km with three steep categorised climbs but many others and equally testing descents. The last climb, the Colle Passerino, rose at 10 per cent for four kilometres before a short descent to the finish in Sestola.

The stage started fast on the Emilia Romagna plains as riders tried to join the break of the day despite the terrible conditions that even disrupted the television coverage. Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) was one of the first to attack and he was joined by Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert). However, the early kilometres were on the home roads of the Bardiani-CSF and so the Italian ProTeam threw their riders up the road to join the action. Other riders joined them in different groups and with the peloton letting them go after a fast opening 40km, an interesting attack of 25 riders formed.

The 25 were: Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Chris Juul-Jensen (Team BikeExchange), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation), Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën Team), Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Filippo Zana, Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo), Francesco Gavazzi, Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), Nico Denz (Team DSM), Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Koen De Kort (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos) and Nicola Venchiarutti (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec). 17 of the 23 teams in the Giro d’Italia were represented up front, with only Ineos Grenadiers, Astana-Premier Tech, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education-Nippo, Lotto Soudal and Jumbo-Visma missing out.

Oliveira was the best-placed overall, 32 seconds down on Ganna, with one-second gaps to De Marchi, then Conti, then Campenaerts. Five other riders were within a minute: Hermans, Vervaeke, Valter, Vendrame, and Taaramae; meaning the stage was, in theory, also a battle for the maglia rosa. There was everything to ride for despite the terrible weather.

The gap to the peloton continued to stay at five minutes as Tagliani won the intermediate sprint after 86km. Just before the race turned off the plains and headed into the Apennine hills Filippo Ganna generously sacrificing his own chances and his maglia rosa by riding long spells on the front. On the Castello di Carpineti climb with 75km to go the steep gradient shook out the break. Gavazzi was first to the top to try to defend Vincenzo Albanese’s lead in the mountains classification. Taaramae was second over the top, followed by Juul-Jensen and Hermans and they kept going in pursuit of glory and a possible stage win. 

Juul-Jensen logically let the two Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert riders do the work, with Hermans sacrificing his chances for Taaramae. They also lead onto the nasty Montemolino climb with 50km to go as the break crumbled and was cast back down the road. Behind, Ganna also dropped back after his huge work on the front, with Ineos road captain Salvatore Puccio taking over on the front before Deceuninck-QuickStep also showed their intentions with James Knox and Mikkel Honoré doing the work.

Juul-Jensen was able to go with Taaramae when he attacked with two kilometres to go to the summit of the Montemolino, while De Marchi, Dombrowski, and Oliveira appeared strongest of the chasers.

Taaramae was on a mission, with the maglia rosa up for grabs if he could finish 30 seconds ahead of Oliveira. De Marchi suffered a puncture with 32km to go but got a quick change and returned to the chase group that reformed and included Dombrowski, Oliveira, Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Andrea Vendrame (AG2R Citroën Team), Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo), Francesco Gavazzi, Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa), Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ), Filippo Zana and Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani CSF-Faizanè).

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s work, with help from impetus from Bahrain Victorious, reduced the gap to the peloton but was at 5:00 with 25km to go and so ruled out the chances of any of them taking the maglia rosa. However, the speed, the climbs, and the terrible conditions reduced the peloton to just 30 or so riders with 15km to go and they also ate into the time gap of the attackers. Riding across the Apennine hilltops Taaramae and Juul-Jensen continued to work together, as the chasers struggled to unite and reduce the gap. They were 1:20 behind with 10km to go. Taaramae lead through the time bonus sprint at the bottom of the Colle Passerino to take three seconds. They seemed on the way to victory but the steep final climb changed everything.

De Marchi dragged Dombrowski away from Oliveira and Mosca, quickly catching and passing Taaramae and Juul-Jensen. On the steepest, 16 per cent, sector Dombrowski danced on the pedals and slowly distanced De Marchi with a show of guts and determination. He made it to the summit of the climb and dived down the 2.5km descent to cross the finish line in Sestola alone.

De Marchi finished 13 seconds behind but did enough to take the maglia rosa and his emotions understandably came out. As they were fighting for the stage and the maglia rosa, the GC battle also exploded. Landa surged across to Ciccone and then was joined by Bernal, Vlasov, and Carthy as everybody was forced to their limits in the wet and cold.

They worked together over the top of the climb and sprinted to the line, with Bernal bringing them home, 1:37 behind Dombrowski and nearer the remains of the break. Yates, Bardet, and Evenepoel were unable to go with them and lost 11 seconds, while Nibali and Jai Hindley (Team DSM) lost 34, Bennett 1:29, and Almeida a far more significant 4:21.

It was only the first day of climbing and only stage 4 but the first cracks had opened in the overall classification. Wednesday’s fifth stage is a pan-flat transfer to the Adriatic coast with a sprint expected in Cattolica. The mountain finishes return on Thursday with the stage 6 finish above Ascoli Piceno on the 15km-long San Giacomo climb.

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Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joe Dombrowski (USA) UAE Team Emirates 4:58:38
2Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation 0:00:13
3Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 0:00:27
4Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:29
5Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
6Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:44
7Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis 0:00:49
8Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 0:00:57
9Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:01:33
10Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange 0:01:36
11Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:37
12Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
13Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
14Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
15Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo
16Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:48
17Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
18Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange
19Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation
20Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
21Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
22Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
23Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:05
24Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team
25Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:02:11
26Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
27Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
28Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers
29Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM
30Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) Ineos Grenadiers
31Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team
32Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange
33Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
34Fausto Masnada (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:02:51
35Gino Mäder (Swi) Bahrain Victorious
36Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
37Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma 0:03:06
38George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma
39Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
40Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:31
41Harold Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana-Premier Tech 0:03:52
42Tanel Kangert (Est) Team BikeExchange
43Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:07
44Márton Dina (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
45Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 0:05:02
46Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
47Jan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:05:20
48James Knox (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:05:58
49João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck-QuickStep
50Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
51Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
52Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spa) Team BikeExchange
53Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
54Michael Storer (Aus) Team DSM
55Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
56Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:06:12
57Patrick Bevin (NZl) Israel Start-up Nation 0:06:59
58Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious 0:07:56
59Victor Lafay (Fra) Cofidis 0:08:24
60Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:08:52
61Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
62Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
63Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
64Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
65Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Ineos Grenadiers
66Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu) EF Education-Nippo
67François Bidard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:09:16
68Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
69Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team 0:12:22
70Einer Rubio Reyes (Col) Movistar Team
71Nicola Venchiarutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
72Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
73Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:12:36
74Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
75Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM
76Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo 0:13:55
77Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
78Mauro Schmid (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
79Kilian Frankiny (Swi) Team Qhubeka Assos
80Christopher Hamilton (Aus) Team DSM
81Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
82Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
83Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroën Team
84Vadim Pronskiy (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
85Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
86Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
87Simone Petilli (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
88Simone Ravanelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
89Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
90Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
91Guy Niv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
92Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
93Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
94Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
95Edward Ravasi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
96Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Trek-Segafredo
97Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
98Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
99Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team
100Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Bahrain Victorious 0:15:08
101Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:18:07
102Matteo Badilatti (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:18:29
103Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:20:36
104Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
105Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange
106Rémy Rochas (Fra) Cofidis
107Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
108Lars van den Berg (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
109Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
110Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma
111Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team
112Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
113Tejay van Garderen (USA) EF Education-Nippo
114Harm Vanhoucke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
115Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 0:21:08
116Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:21:25
117Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:23:06
118Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
119Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
120Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
121Davide Gabburo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
122Andrii Ponomar (Ukr) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
123Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
124Filippo Tagliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
125Natnael Berhane (Eri) Cofidis
126Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
127Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
128Simon Pellaud (Swi) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
129Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
130Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
131Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos
132Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
133Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos
134Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
135Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
136Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
137Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
138Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
139Mark Christian (GBr) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
140Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
141Alex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start-up Nation
142Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
143Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-up Nation
144Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
145Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
146Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
147Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
148Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM
149David Dekker (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
150Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation
151Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
152Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
153Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo
154Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
155Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
156Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
157Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
158Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain Victorious
159Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
160Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
161Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
162Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
163Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates
164Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
165Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
166Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
167Cameron Meyer (Aus) Team BikeExchange
168Alexander Krieger (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix 0:24:35
169Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Movistar Team 0:24:48
170Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis 0:25:42
171Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
172Samuele Rivi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 0:26:53
173Manuel Belletti (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team
174Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
175Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates 0:27:53
176Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:28:10
177Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:29:00
178Matteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
179Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:30:48
180Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
181Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis 0:30:56
182Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
183Attilio Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
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Sprint 1 - Rossena km. 86.8
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Filippo Tagliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 12
2Nicola Venchiarutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 8
3Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 6
4Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation 5
5Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 4
6Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team 3
7Márton Dina (Hun) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 2
8Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 1
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Sprint 2 - Sestola km. 187
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joe Dombrowski (USA) UAE Team Emirates 25
2Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation 18
3Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane' 12
4Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 8
5Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious 6
6Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ 5
7Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis 4
8Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team 3
9Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 2
10Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange 1
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Mountain 1 - Castello Di Carpineti km. 111.8
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team 9
2Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 4
3Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange 2
4Quinten Hermans (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 1
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Mountain 2 - Montemolino km. 143.4