Stage 4: Avola to Etna
Date: May 10, 2022
Race times: 12:25-17:10 (CEST)
Stage type: Mountain
Following an early rest day to allow the riders, staff and crews to travel from Hungary, stage 4 of the 2022 Giro is the first to take place on Italian soil, though not on the mainland. Instead, the peloton will traverse the most southerly of Italy’s islands, Sicily.
The stage provides a dramatic contrast to the largely flat Hungarian stages, with 3,580 metres of altitude gain, and should offer the first major opportunity of the race for the general classification riders to make their mark on the competition for the maglia rosa.
Setting out from the coastal resort of Avola, the race heads inland away from the Ionian coast and north across the craggy landscape that is characteristic of the island. The first 50km or so are pretty much all uphill, which will provide challenges as the day’s break tries to establish itself. Then once done with a significant section of descending there is a largely flat segment of around 55 kilometres that leads the peloton to the beginning of the main climb of the day.
There are two intermediate sprints on the lower slopes before the ascent of Etna begins in earnest. It’s one of the most well-used climbs in the Giro’s recent history, featuring in four of the past six editions of the race. Etna has been prime hunting ground for the breakaway in recent years – all three of the previous recent ascents were won by a rider from the breakaway.
The climb is listed as 25.6km in length at an average of 5.6 per cent in gradient. This varies towards the steeper extreme in the early stages, with over a kilometre at an average of 11.4 per cent and with a maximum of 15 per cent. It’s likely that early attacks may be launched here and the peloton will shatter as the GC contenders test one another for the first time.
Following a couple of kilometres of welcome relief as climbing shifts to a descent, the riders face a final relentless slog of 13.5km at a fairly steady 6.2 per cent in average gradient.
The likes of Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco), Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) will start the race as favourites for pink. In the breakaway corner, expect spirited attacks from riders such as Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa), Andrea Bagioli (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe).
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Katy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has published interviews, features, and previews in Cycling News, Rouleur, Cyclist Magazine and the British Continental. She also writes opinion pieces on her own website writebikerepeat.com and is a frequent contributor to the Quicklink podcast.
She is obsessed with the narrative element of bike racing, from the bigger picture to the individual stories. She is a cyclocross nut who is 5% Belgian and wonders if this entitles her to citizenship. Her favourite races are Ronde van Vlaanderen and La Vuelta.
In her spare time Katy is a published short fiction and non-fiction author.
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