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Giro d'Italia 2013: Stage 4

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Hello and welcome to stage 4 of this year's Giro d'Italia. Cyclingnews will be here to bring you live coverage throughout today's stage from Policastro to Serra San Bruno.

Today is the longest stage in this year's race, topping out at an eye-watering 246 kilometres. The route once again takes the peloton along the Italian coast line, and south to Serra San Bruno.

After some early showers this morning it's dried up nicely, with sunny skies overhead as the peloton gather on the start line. The depart is just moments away with race leader Luca Paolini at the read of the readying peloton.

For a video preview of today's stage, click here.

It looks a belter too, with stunning woodland scenery and the rapid 12-kilometre climb to Croce Ferrata to round things off. Though touching gradients of 10 per cent in places, the peloton is likely to be on the big ring much of the time and we can expect some ferocious racing towards Serra San Bruno (pop. 7,000), a normally quiet hilltop town famous for being the birthplace of the Carthusian monastic order.

The question at the start this morning is whether Paolini  can hold the maglia rosa. The final climb is certainly long for a classics rider like the Italian but he'll be determined to hang onto the leaders jersey for as long as possible. If he can hold on today it's possible that he can retain the jersey until Saturday.


The deciding factor won't be Paolini's legs or his ambition though. If Sky, Astana and Garmin take on the final climb in a manner similar to how they raced stage 3 then Paolini will be in difficulty. There's no killer descent this time around and if a small group of contenders goes clear Paolini could be in trouble.

Stefano Zanatta says:

"Stage 4 is notable for being the first uphill finish of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, which also marks the start of the parallel race, the one for the GC. I can see about 20 or so riders coming up to the finish line together and any of the GC contenders losing time here will probably regret it as they’ll be in big trouble later on. As regards the final climb, it’s hard to call, but sometimes these stages can become quite tactical."

 

Here's the situation in the battle for GC:

1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 9:04:32
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:17
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
4 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:26
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:31
6 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:34
8 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha 0:00:36
9 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
11 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:39
12 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:42

Bradley Wiggins is perfectly placed in second overall. Astana and Garmin may put the hammer down once again in a bid to propel Wiggins into pink and therefore give him the tricky decision as to whether he should defend pink between now and the time trial.

And we're off. The fourth stage of this year's Giro d'Italia has officially started. Remember you can find all our Giro d'Italia coverage, right here.

Former pro Robert Millar is back with his second blog of the race. Millar analyses the first three stages of the race and preview's today's stage too.

La 4a tappa del Giro d'Italia 2013, da Policastro Bussentino a Serra San Bruno è appena partita! #giro

@giroditalia Tue, 7th May 2013 10:17:24

As with yesterday we're likely to see an early break form and build up a lead along the coast road. Katusha are likely to let anyone who is more than 4 minutes down skip off down the road.

241km remaining from 246km

5km into the stage and the bunch is still together.

While we wait for the early move to go clear, here's an exclusive video behind the scenes look at the RadioShack Leopard team.

In other RadioShack related news, Chris Horner has been ruled out of the Tour of California with a knee injury. You can read about that here.

At the start this morning Eros Capecchi told Tuttobici that this would be his last Giro d'Italia. The Italian is currently suffering with allergies. A lot of riders come down with similar problems at this time of year, Dan Martin another.

3 things on Paolini: great win, celebration spot on; surprised he's only won 20 pro races; why was post-race interview in English?

@petercossins Tue, 7th May 2013 10:40:26

Not much of the next 40km of the stage is particularly flat. There's no major obstacles but the terrain is ideal to launch attacks from. Around Maratea and Castrocucco there are a few inclines.

First attacks includes Sella, Berard, Minguez & Tamouridis #giro

@mrconde Tue, 7th May 2013 10:44:18

It looks as though those early pitches have been the expected launchpad for the early move. We'll bring you the names of the riders as soon as we can. It looks like Sella has made though group.

The break is forming and then reforming. At the moment we have Anthony Roux (FDJ), Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol) and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) up the road with one rider chasing from behind.

Johan Le Bon makes it two FDJ riders in the move. After losing Sandy Casar yesterday the French team are riding with a point to prove.

Dockx has dropped back so our magnificent seven are: Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Anthony Roux (FDJ), Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team) and they have 1'35 on the peloton after 21 km of racing.

News: Sciandri turns down Italian national coach job: Ex-pro regretful but wants to stay with BMC Racing Team     http://t.co/U4VzDubrC9

@Cyclingnewsfeed Tue, 7th May 2013 11:04:02

Unlike yesterday Sky can sit back and let other teams control the head of the race. A number of teams have missed this break so the next phase of the race will be dictated by the seven man break and the teams chasing from behind - should they be instructed to by their team managers.

It's interesting that Sella has made  the break. Yesterday it was Rodriguez and Savio is certainly keen on taking every opportunity that comes the way of his team. In 2011 they managed to post a rider in the top ten on every single stage. With no sprinter this year that's going to be tough but they're certainly showing early aggression in this year's Giro d'Italia.

Katusha look to be moving to the front as well. We said earlier that anyone more than four minutes down might be allowed to jump clear but Sella is infact just 2'39 down on GC. It's possible that the break ask him to drop back because he could seriously hamper their progress even at this early stage.

29km remaining from 246km

Just under 30 km and this is a critical part of the stage as the break attempts to establish itself. It's still touch and go. Katusha might let the gap go out, betting that the likes of Sky, Garmin and Astana will set a furious pace in the lead up to the two climbs.

#giro stage 4 can be explored on Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View in high detail here http://t.co/qzzOvjlTZL

@cyclingthealps Tue, 7th May 2013 11:17:48

Done and dusted: Katusha have let this one go and in a big way. 42km of racing completed and the gap is at 7'40 according to race radio.

Today's weather update: Changeable conditions with possible coastal winds. 25 degrees Celsius at sea level, 15 degrees Celsius at the finish line.
 

After the Lamezia Terme plain, the climb begins towards Maierato and Vibo Valentia (GPM at km 206.8) with very ‘pedalable’ gradients despite short, very steep stretches (road surface paved with stone slabs in some villages). Beyond Vibo Valentia, the road descends as far as the final climb up to Croce Ferrata (Intermediate Sprint at Soriano Calabro (km 227.7, the halfway point of the climb) with gradients of around 5%. Stage finish is 7 km after the GPM.

And our current jersey wearers:

MAGLIA ROSA: Luca Paolini (KAT)
MAGLIA ROSSA (Points): Luca Paolini (KAT)
MAGLIA AZZURRA (Mountains): Willem Wauters (VAC)
MAGLIA BIANCA (Young Rider): Fabio Aru (AST)
 

Aru is certainly one to watch in this race. He's had a steady season with Astana and looked very impressive in guiding Vincenzo Nibali to victory in last months Giro del Trentino. He's one for the future.

A couple of corrections from the early break. Here's the confirmed line up. We still have seven riders up the road but they are in fact:

Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Francis Mourey (FDJ), Julien Berard (AG2R La Mondiale), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli), Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)

191km remaining from 246km

And the seven leaders have covered 55km and they currently hold an advantage of 7'55 over the peloton.

Sella is now the virtual leader on the road by over five minutes.

And now Susan is taking over live for a short time. Thanks.

Interesting how this stage is shaping up. Think the break group might stay away?

180km remaining from 246km

Hard to believe, but the stage is only one-fourth done. Hm, if we figure nearly seven minutes times four, this group could wind things up right here.

Selle, our “virtual” maglia rosa, is a 31-year-old who has been riding professionally since 2004. Among his other wins he can claim a win in the 2004 Giro d'Italia.

Actually he had four other stage wins in 2008 and finished sixth overall, but in July of that year he tested postivie for EPO-CERA. He confessed and was given a one-year suspension.

170km remaining from 246km

A tiny drop in the gap, as it is now down to 6:50.

Ioannis Tamouridis, 32, is the first Greek rider to participate in the Giro d'Italia. He is a true all around talent, having won more than 30 national titles in road races, track and mountain bike. He is in fact currently the national time trial champion.  Tamouridis turned pro in 2009 with the Greek  Continental-rankedSP Tableware team, and made the move up to the WorldTour only this year with Euskaltel-Euskadi, which finally started signing non-Basque riders.

165km remaining from 246km

The gap has crept back up to 7:20. Katusa, of course, is leading the chase and has now been joined by RadioShack-Leopard.

Johan Le Bon is a 22-year-old Frenchman who is also in his first WorldTour year, with FdJ. He rode since 2009 for Bretagne Schuller. This year his top results include second in Tro-Bro Leon,  fourth overall at the Three Days of De Panne-Koksijde, and fifth overall at the Three Days of West Flanders.

The gap is yo-yoing around a bit and is now at 6:50, so not really a big change. We are, what, maybe a third of the way through the stage, and the day's difficulties are yet to come. So it is too early to read much of anything into the situation.

25-year-old Julien Berard has spent his entire (short) career with AG2R-La Mondiale, having first served there as a stagiaire in 2009. He is still looking for his first pro win, but can look back to a number of top ten finishes. This is in fact his second Giro, having also ridden it in 2011.

158km remaining from 246km

Perhaps the chase work is finally showing some effect. The difference is now down to 6:15.

Francis Mourey, 32, also puts in his time on the cyclo-cross circuit. He was third in the Worlds in 2006, and has been national champ in 2005, 2007-2011 and 2013. Mourey is having some big successes on the road this year, having won not only a stage at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but also taking the win in Tro-Bro Leon, to top an all-FdJ podium.

Pim Ligthart, 24, is from Hoorn, Netherlands, and  has ridden for Vacansoleil-DCM since 2010. His major road success was winning the national road title in 2011, and this year he has finished fifth in the Volta Limburg Classic and tenth in the Clasica de Almeria. He also rides track and can boast of many national titles. Lately he has turned to six-day races.

It is lunchtime now out on the course, and we are told the gap is now at 6:40.

Turning things back over to Dan now.

Thanks Susan. The leaders have just raced through the feedzone with the peloton still at 6'40. Sella remains the leader on the road.

The bunch follow through the feedzone. The next 80 kilometres are flat and follow south and through both Paolo and Amantea.

The bunch are content to let the seven riders in the break to continue up the road. They'll likely start the chase with 100km to go but it will be a gradual affair. They wont want/need to make the catch until the slopes of the final climb.

We're just over halfway through today' stage. The peloton continue to tap out a gentle pace but they've managed to chip a couple of minutes off the break's lead.

Sella is currently 1'31 ahead on GC but there's a long way to go and the gap is starting to tick down rapidly now.

Katusha have moved their entire team to the front and Garmin have done the same as well. The action is starting to hot up.

99km remaining from 246km

Less that 100 km to go and the group is 3'50 ahead of the Katusha led peloton. The Russian team are riding the perfect stage to far but they're going to have to keep Paolini in contention when we reach the climbs. It's a big ask but he has a chance.

The bunch has strung out and Paolini grabs an energy bar.

As a couple of Garmin riders drop back and pick up food and drink for Hesjedal. The break have started to attack each other with one of the Euskaltel riders trying to force a move.

Hesjedal is actually coming back through the cars at the moment. The pace has slowed in the bunch and the Garmin leader won't have any trouble.

Le Bon, Minguez and Ligthart have jumped clear.

92km remaining from 246km

The bunch are at 3'48 with Katusha continuing to tap out their steady pace.

The three leaders have 20 seconds over the chase group and that could certainly play into their hands. Having dropped Sella the peloton might give them a bit more room.

Berad makes it over to the three leaders.

It will surely be all over for Sella and his two companions.

Astana have organised themselves behind Garmin and Katusha but so far Sky have taken a backseat in today's proceedings.

82km remaining from 246km

2'19 to the Sella group and the bunch are at 4'48.

Paolini drops back  to the and has a word with the Katusha DS. They'll be discussing how much more work they'll need to do before the final climbs.

Ligthart takes the intermediate sprint points.

74km remaining from 246km

The four leaders are working well here and Paolini is talking to Sky at the moment. Presumably about how the chase will be organised. Wiggins is second on GC so there's some expectation on Sky to pitch in with the work. At the moment Wiggins' team are sitting in the middle of the pack and waiting.

Paolini is near the back of the bunch continuing to talk with riders. The experienced Italian is looking for allies out on the road.

The gap is down to 4'00 again and with 65km to go it's stacked in favour of the bunch. Vini Fantini are on the front now for Santambrogio  has had a very strong season with his new team.

There's crash in the bunch.

Three Omega riders are down but they all  look to be up and chasing again. Capecchi as well and he needs a new front wheel.

A lot of riders were caught from the fall but it should all come back together.

Pippo was caught up in the fall Navarro as well and both are in a chase group.

1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 9:04:32
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:17
3 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
4 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:26
5 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:31
6 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:34
8 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha 0:00:36
9 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
10 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:37

Santambrogio is 11th, 39 seconds down on pink. Sky, Astana, Garmin, they might let the Italian go if he attacks.

Hesjedal is at the back of the bunch still. He needs to move up soon. That crash just a few minutes ago was a warning sign to all the GC contenders.

The four leaders are on the lower slopes of the Vibo Valenta. It's a 3rd cat climb and they have a lead of 1'39.

Vini Fantini continue to set the pace at the head of the field.

The leaders will be caught before the summit of this climb at this race. Paolini is near the front again, along with his Katusha team but it's still the Fantini team doing most of work. Garzelli is in the mix too.

Minguez knows the game is up. He's picked up a number of bottles from the team car in preparation of the catch.

51km remaining from 246km

A shade over 50km to go and the break have started to split on the climb. However they only have 44 seconds on the peloton. Astana have now moved up alongside Vini Fantini. Hesjdal and Wiggins have to pay attention.

It's actually Minguez who pushes on alone.

Cataldo is off the back again. He's been suffering with illness for the last few days.

Cyclingnews' European editor had this to say about today's final climb: "it twists and turns for 12km through a series switchbacks but the gradient is very regular and the road surface is smooth. it's hard to see any of the major contenders being put into difficulty and the final 6km from the summit to the finish is quite straightforward - primarily false flat and not as technical as yesterday's finale."

Miguez continues to push on with Le Bon chasing him. The bunch have both riders within a minute still

The rains now hits the peloton hard. The bunch are climbing in the big ring as Minguez solos to the top of the climb. He has 38 seconds on the bunch.

42km remaining from 246km

The catch has been made the the bunch is back together. Vini Fantini sweep right passed the Euskaltel rider as David Millar has a mechanical at the back of the peloton.

Blanco have moved up to the front as Wiggins, Nibali and Hesjedal begin to watch each other.

Bobridge is suffering at the back of the peloton.

Gretsch has now attacked from the bunch but he's only managed to pull out 10 meters. There's fog and rain at the top of the climb.

A number of the sprinters are starting to drop off the back, including Mark Cavendish in the red jersey.

Pirazzi joins up with Gretsch at the front of the race.

Pirazzi takes the points at the top, Gretsch second and Visconti third.

That's enough for Visconti to take the lead back in the KOM but there's still one more climb to come.

The wet roads and the downhill will lead to some very nervous riders in the peloton.

Nibali has crashed. He's up and chasing but on a spare bike.

The Italian is firing through the team cars at such a fast rate but that's a blow for the Astana leader

The previous group has been caught and Duque is leading by himself now.

There's no footage of the Nibali crash mind but he's making his way back to the bunch now.

It may have just been a wheel change in fact.

30km remaining from 246km

Duque has been brought back but there's an attack from a Lotto rider.

Another attack from Argos Shimano but there are groups all over the road at the moment.

The descent has split the field far more than the last climb did and it's Gretsch with Willems who are off the front together.

Aru brings Nibali to the front of the peloton. Sky, Garmin are both already there with their leaders. Positioning will be important as the peloton tackle the final climb of the day.It's 12km in length.

Weening has a mechanical and is now forced to chase back  to the main field. He's GreenEGDE's best climber in the race so it's critical for the Australian team that the Dutch rider makes contact with the leaders.

The two leaders have 28 seconds has as Dowsett needs a wheel from the Movistar team car.

25km remaining from 246km

25km to go and the two leaders have just a few seconds left of their lead.

The two leaders have been caught and now Marcato pushes clear.

Parazzi is coming across now too.

The two Italians start to work together but they've only a few seconds lead on the chase group of race favourites..

More riders have moved into the lead group. AG2R and Vini Fantini both present.

 

Katusha is second wheel in the peloton as they set the tempo with 19km to go.

Marcato takes the intermediate sprint seconds but he's now alone as he takes on the final climb of the day.

Marcato has pulled out 20 seconds on the peloton as Katusha continue to do the pace setting.

Marcato has been joined by Pirazzi and the rest of the break.

Ventoso needs a wheel and a teammate  stops to help him.

Katusha monitor the situation on the front still. They're doing an excellent job for Paolini.

Sylvain Georges pushes on alone and he's nearly gained a minute on the peloton.

Sylvain Georges won a memorable stage at the Tour of California last year. He's putting on a show today but his gap is down to 37 seconds.

Sky have now taken control of the bunch.

Wiggins has three men on the front setting the tempo.

Wiggins sits in third wheel with Di Luca on his wheel.

Nibali and Hesjedal are both near the front as well. Evans a little further back but looking in contention.

Henao is in second wheel for Sky, Wiggins just behind him. Cobo has been dropped.

Wiggins looks comfortable and Evans, Scarponi are riding next to each other.

The lone AG2R leader has 31 seconds on the peloton.

Sky continue to wrestle control of the peloton on the climb. They've done this countless times in the last 18 months and today is no different. Everyone else just sits in and follows the pace.

The stage doesn't finish at the top of this climb though. There's a slight flat/downhill section where attacks play a part.

Paolini is still  in the group so he's keeping his jersey here.

11km remaining from 246km

11km to go and Sylvain Georges has 23 seconds.

Di Luca attacks.

10km to go and the former Giro winner is taking on Sky.

Georges has just 10 seconds.

Di Luca makes contact, and he's brought one other rider with him.

Di Luca powers on and he's dragging the two riders with him.

And Georges has blown.

The rider with Di Luca is Gomez.

The two are swapping turns on the front as the rain continues to come down.

Team car lights are on and the mist is falling but Di Luca keeps going and Gomez comes through and takes another turn.

Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez and Danilo Di Luca forge  on and continue to put more time into the peloton.  Sky continue with their pace.

Di Luca raises the pace but Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez hangs on.

Di Luca looks back but the gap is increasing. These two have less than 2km to go until the top of the climb. Henao and Uran are left to pace Wiggins.

Just 7km remaining in the stage as Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez takes maximum points at the top of the climb followed by Di Luca.

A wet descent towards the finish, the gap around 10 -12 seconds.

Di Luca has attacked. He's brought back on the flat section so it's two leaders together again.

Di Luca is powering towards the finish with 5km to go.

The gap holds at around 10km .

Di Luca has done so much of the work, will he have anything left if it comes down to a sprint?

The road hits an incline and the Italian jumps again. He's brought back  quickly though.

The lead is down to just 7 seconds with 2.3km to go.

Di Luca can create small gaps  simply because he can take the wet corners better but they're onto the final small climb before the finish and they're about to caught.

1.4km to go.

They've still not been caught, the gap is at 30 meters.

Paolini is there.

Di luca leads outs.

Can he hang on?

Here come Katusha

Di Luca is caught.

The sprint opens up. Henao is there for Sky but he can't come through.

Enrico Battaglin is on the front with 200 to go and he's going to hold on.

He has a gap and he takes the stage win.

That's a huge win for the young Italian and his wildcard team. Fellini was second and Visconti third.

Paolini finished in 10th and will keep his maglia rosa. In the end he was able to hang on with some ease as the favourites saved their powder for another day.

Wiggins has lost time. Confirmation is that the Sky leader has dropped down in GC.

Henao has apparently moved into second overall. If that's correct then that's a big disappointment for Sky.

Wiggins drops to 6th, 34 seconds down.

Hesjedal was in the top ten so he hasn't lost time. We're just waiting on the confirmed top ten.

1 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox 6:14:19
2 Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
3 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
4 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
5 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ
6 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
8 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
9 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard
10 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha

Provisional top ten in GC:

1 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 15:18:51
2 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:17
3 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:26
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:31
5 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:34
6 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling
7 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha 0:00:36
8 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling 0:00:37
9 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:39
10 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:42

Wiggins drops below Nibali and Hesjedal  in the battle for pink. It's just a handful of seconds and we don't know the reason for the loss of time yet.

 

Still no confirmation as to what happened with Wiggins but keep your eyes peeled to the homepage for news. Meanwhile you can find our report, results and photos, right here.

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