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Giro d'Italia 2012: Stage 4


Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia, the 33.2km team time trial around Verona.

After the long weekend in Denmark and the longest transfer in race history on Monday evening, the Giro d'Italia gets back into action after the rest day with the team time trial.

The action gets underway in just a few minutes, with John Gadret and Ag2r-La Mondiale the first team to take the start at 15.25 local time, while maglia rosa Taylor Phinney and his BMC teammates set off at 16:28.

Start times:

In the overall standings, Phinney has a nine-second lead over Geraint Thomas (Sky), while Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) is a further four seconds down in 3rd.

Overall standings after stage 3:

Ag2r-La Mondiale have just set off from in front of Verona's Basilica San Zeno to get things underway. It wasn't the smoothest of take-offs, Guillaume Bonnafond was left behind on the start ramp, but they're safely in formation now and heading north out of the city.

Our next starters are Euskaltel-Euskadi, and the Basque outfit will be looking to limit the losses of their leader Mikel Nieve, who already coughed up over a minute on the stage 1 time trial.

The course has a flat, fast start, but the road begins to climb shortly after the first check at Corrubbio (9km). That drag lasts until Castelrotto  (12.7km) before the road steadily descends once again.

Gianni Savio's Androni-Venezuela squad are the next team to take the start. The squads are setting off at 3-minute intervals, in the reverse order of the teams classification, albeit with the BMC of the maglia rosa setting off last instead of Garmin-Barracuda.

Some early understatement from Paolo Savoldelli, hanging on the back of a motorbike speeding behind Androni-Venezuela: "This isn't exactly a team of time triallists."

Lampre-ISD are next up. With Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego less than brilliant in the Herning time trial, the pressure is on to ensure that their losses to Liquigas, Astana et al remain respectable.

Ag2r-La Mondiale are through the first time check in 10:47, which means they're averaging around about 50kph for the first 9km or so.

Lotto Belisol roll down the ramp, but the RAI cameras quickly pan back to show us Androni-Venezuela out on the road. So far the team of non-time triallists are maintaining their formation.

Euskaltel-Euskadi zip through the first check in 10:44, 3 seconds quicker than Ag2r-La Mondiale. Euskaltel-Euskadi have been using a double pace line on the opening section.

Domenico Pozzovivo was among the climbers glad to get out of Denmark without losing any significant time, and his Colnago-CSF team are next to take the start.

Androni-Venezuela have done their bit so far. Their time at the first check is 10:29, the quickest so far, even though 19 more teams have to reach this point.

Lampre-ISD will be looking to Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori in particular today. Neither Scarponi nor Cunego are comfortable in the time trial, and the rouleurs such as Malori will need to step up.

Quickest time for Lampre-ISD at the first time check: 10:14, an average speed in excess of 52kph.

Interesting to note that Domenico Pozzovivo is sitting at the back of the Colnago-CSF paceline. It seems as though the diminutive climber will be spared at least in the opening kilometres of the course.

Mountains leader and maglia azzurra Alfredo Balloni sets off in the company of his rather more luridly-attired Farnese Vini-Selle Italia teammates. They have added fluorescent yellow shorts to their ensemble for this Giro, just to make sure we saw them. Balloni has certainly been visible to date, but the cheers here will be for local rider Andrea Guardini, who hails from nearby Colognola ai Colli.

Katusha the next team to leave the shadow of the Basilica San Zeno. Joaquim Rodriguez must have been very pleased with his display in the opening time trial, and along with Roman Kreuziger (Astana), he seems the man most likely to challenge the home favourites.

Colnago-CSF Inox has the second-best time at the first check, 10:21.

Alexander Kristoff is doing a lot of the work for Katusha early on.

Movistar are out on the road, while NetApp is the next team to ready itself in the starthouse.

Farnese Vini-Selle Italia has matched Lampre-ISD's fastest time the first check.

Katusha appear to have started quite smoothly, but Joaquim Rodriguez's unease in the discipline is apparent. He is the only rider in the pace-line who shifts out of the aero position when he's on the wheels.

Katusha's appearances are confirmed by the time. Joaquim Rodriguez and company come through the first check in 10:03, the quickest squad to date.

Almost simultaneously, Lampre-ISD hit the second time check (21km) with the quickest time. They've gone through in 25:39, which is 28 seconds faster than second-placed Androni-Venezuela.

Saxo Bank are next to start. Manuele Boaro wears the white jersey, as he is second in the young rider standings behind Taylor Phinney, the maglia rosa.

Ag2r-La Mondiale thunder down the Corso Porto Nuovo, and will shortly arrive at the finish in Piazza Bra.

Gadret and company are the first finishers, and they stop the clock in 38:49, while over at the Basilica San Zeno, Liquigas-Cannondale are about to set off.

Liquigas won the Giro's last team time trial in Cuneo in 2010, but Basso would doubtless settle for some gains on his main rivals today.

We haven't seen a lot of them, but it seems though Pozzovivo hasn't been required to do many (if any) turns at the front for Colnago-CSF. He's again planted on the back when they come through the second check with the third best time to date.

Androni-Venezuela make it back to Verona in a finishing time of 38:48, the quickest so far at an average speed of 51.350kph.

Roman Kreuziger and Astana are out on the road, it will be interesting to see how the Kazakh squad measures up.

Adriano Malori drives the pace for Lampre-ISD as they reach the finish. They only have the bare five riders left, but that's enough to claim the quickest time to date. 37:38 for Lampre, over a minute quicker than Androni at an average speed in excess of 53kph.

Androni-Venezuela lost most of its time over the final 10 kilometres, as they had to wait for Jose Rujano who picked up a puncture.

Lotto Belisol reach the finish with hte second best time to date, 31 seconds down on Lampre-ISD. Euskaltel-Euskadi are already 1:48 down, and we can safely assume that Lampre's time will be bettered as the afternoon draws on.

One team with serious designs on the stage win is Sky, and the British squad has just set off.

Astana have looked solid, but their time at the first check is only the second-best to date, three seconds down on Katusha.

Colnago-CSF Inox are down to five riders as they approach the finish, but Pozzovivo is still there, and they've limited their losses to 38 seconds to Lampre-ISD, although there are plenty of contenders still to come.

Frank Schleck and RadioShack-Nissan are the next starters.

Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF): "I have to thank my teammates. I'm satisfied with the team time trial. I was counting on gaining anything here. The Giro starts at the weekend."

Word reaching us that Katusha has the best time at the second check, 20 seconds quicker than Lampre-ISD. This could well turn out to be a very important afternoon in Joaquim Rodriguez's bid for the maglia rosa.

Rodriguez's reluctance to use his tri-bars notwithstanding, Katusha have looked very smooth to date, with all nine riders still in formation inside the final 3 kilometres.

Pink jersey Taylor Phinney is readying himself behind the start house, where Orica-GreenEdge have taken off.

The next starters are Garmin-Barracuda, perhaps the favourites for stage victory today.

Katusha are eating up the road inside the final kilometre. They'll have the quickest time to date, but have they pulled out that gap over the final 10 kilometres?

Katusha cross the line in 37:09, the quickest so far with an advantage of 29 seconds over Lampre-ISD. In the grand scheme of things, that's another substantial gain for Joaquim Rodriguez over Michele Scarponi.

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha): "The team did a spectacular team time trial, we couldn't have gone a second faster. We'll see what Liquigas and Astana do, but we've done our bit."

Movistar come home in second place, 27 seconds down on Katusha.

Paolo Savoldelli notes that Mark Cavendish has been doing his bit on the front for Sky, and, not surprisingly, Geraint Thomas has been doing the longest turns on the front.

Sky are on the drag up to Castelrotto, and tapping out a decent rhythm.

Liquigas and Basso were 9 seconds down on Katusha after 9km. Joaquim Rodriguez's stock in this Giro rises by the pedal stroke. Sky were 8 seconds down on Katusha at the same point.

Garmin-Barracuda reach the first time check in 9:56, 7 seconds quicker than Katusha. GreenEdge have gone through in the same time as Katusha.

Garmin-Barracuda and Orica-GreenEdge are both on the uphill section of the course, which is by no means easy to negotiate.

BMC come through the first time check in 10:07, 11 down on Garmin-Barracuda.

Ironically, at the same moment, Alex Rasmussen (second overall at 13 seconds) has lost contact with Garmin-Barracuda. Ramunas Navardauskas is now the man who will move into pink if Garmin manage to extend that lead over BMC.

Svein Tuft almost came a cropper on a left-hander for GreenEdge, but after a brief wobble, the Australian team are safely through and still in progress.

Not a good day's work for Liquigas-Cannondale and Ivan Basso, they've reached the finish with the 3rd best time to date. Their 37:30 means that Basso loses 21 seconds to Joaquim Rodriguez.

BMC are on the climb to Castelrotto. Taylor Phinney looks to be struggling, and BMC seem a little bit ragged on this section.

Astana approach the finish line. Kreuziger and co. had limited their losses to Rodriguez to date.

37:26 for Astana for the third best time. Kreuziger loses 17 seconds to Rodriguez, but gains 4 on Basso and 12 on Scarponi and Cunego.

Roman Kreuziger (Astana): "I don't know how the others went, but I think my teammates were very good. In any case, that's sport. One day, you go well, the other day it's another team."

Garmin-Barracuda are at the 15km to go point, but now Navardauskas is struggling to hold the pace of his teammates...

Jack Bauer slows the pace, and Navardauskas is back on. It seems as though the Lithuanian was caught off guard after he put in a big turn on the front.

That wobble from Orica-GreenEdge looks to have cost them, and they reach the second check down in 6th place. It looks like a Garmin-Katusha battle for the stage win.

A difficult moment for Taylor Phinney, who came close to going off the road. The American looks set to lose his pink jersey this afternoon, possibly to Ramunas Navardauskas of Garmin-Barracuda.

Garmin-Barracuda zip through the second check with a time 9 seconds quicker than Katusha.

BMC are back in formation, and will hope to refind their tempo over the closing section of the course.

Sky come to the finish with the 6th-best time to date, 25 seconds down on Katusha.

BMC reach the second time check over 30 seconds down on Garmin-Barracuda.

RadioShack-Nissan haven't made much of an impact on the leaderboard at any of the time checks, and they hit the line 23 seconds down on Katusha.

Orica-GreenEdge still have six riders as they enter the streets of Verona once again, but their chances of winning the stage have surely disappeared.

Navardauskas is dangling at the back of the Garmin line once again as they cross the Adige on the entry into Verona. He grits his teeth and gets back on. He knows he's close to the pink jersey.

Hesjedal puts in a huge turn on the front for Garmin.

Orica-GreenEdge reach the finish in 5th place, 20 seconds down on Katusha. Only Garmin-Barracuda and BMC are left out on the road.

5 kilometres to go for BMC, who seem to have regained some cohesion, but it might well be too little too late for Phinney.

Navardauskas has lost ten metres yet again as Garmin approach the closing kilometres.

A timely bend allows him to get back on. If Navardauskas wants pink, he needs Garmin-Barracuda to put nine seconds into Sky's time before he can worry about Phinney.

Fastest time for Garmin-Barracuda, and Navardauskas is the man poised to inherit Phinney's maglia rosa. They hit the line in 37:04.

BMC must reach the finish in 37:22 if Phinney is to maintain his pink jersey. They're back in the streets of Verona on the run-in to the line.

BMC reach the red kite in 36:30. They won't be able to do it, Navardauskas is set to move into the overall lead.

10th position for BMC, 31 seconds down on Garmin-Barracuda. Ramunas Navardauskas is the new overall leader of the Giro d'Italia.

Taylor Phinney was understandably disappointed at the finish: "I had a bad day personally. I don’t know if it was the crash the other day or what, but I had nothing today. The team had to wait for me a couple of times, I have to thank them. Fortunately I didn’t fall today as well, but from my third pull on the front, I could see that something wasn’t right. I’m very disappointed, I don’t have a lot to say. I didn’t have a lot of power. I gave the maximum, I gave everything I have. I have to thank they team. They could have left me but instead they slowed and waited for me.”

Provisional stage result:

Navardauskas takes the pink jersey for now, but in the longer term picture, there were some fascinating tweaks to the overall standings.  Ivan Basso, Roman Kreuziger and Frank Schleck more or less broke even, while Michele Scarponi and Damiano Cunego managed to limit their losses to that trio. The big winner was Joaquim Rodriguez, however. His Katusha team exceeded expectations with second place on the stage, and he gains another 20+ seconds on most of his rivals for the final maglia rosa.

Ramus Navardauskas leads a Garmin-Barracuda 1-2-3-4 in the GC, 10 seconds clear of Tyler Farrar, with Robbie Hunter and Ryder Hesjedal just behind.

Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda): “We thought we could win today, but for myself, I wasn’t sure if I could hold with these guys. They were really strong today. Everybody did a really good job. I was so glad to stay with these guys as I tired in the last 10 kilometres. This jersey is a really big thing for me.

General classification:

Thanks for joining us for today's live coverage of stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia. We'll back for tomorrow's stage from Modena down to the Adriatic coast at Fano. In the meantime, stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a full report, results and pictures, and we'll also have all the news and reaction from Verona.

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