Richard Carapaz of Movistar has won stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia. The Ecuadorian rider got the better of Caleb Ewan of Lotto Soudal and Diego Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates as Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma extended his lead over Simon Yates, and a crash all but ruined Tom Dumoulin’s GC aspirations.
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Although another stage with plenty of uphill roads, the 235km between Orbetello and Frascati only possessed one category 4 climb towards the beginning of the stage. It didn’t deter Mirco Maestri of Bardiani-CSF, Marco Frapporti of Androni-Sidermec and Damiano Cima of Nippo-Finatini-Faizanè from attacking the stage. The trio attacked and were given a generous lead of over 12 minutes before Groupama-FDJ, Lotto Soudal and Astana took the brunt of the responsibility for bringing the field back together. With 175km to go the gap was sitting at 8 minutes.
Thomas De Gendt was a constant on the front of the peloton for much of the opening half of the race. The Lotto Soudal rider was protecting team sprinter Caleb Ewan, while Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT was very present also on a day where it wasn’t quite clear who the finish would suit. The closing 2km contained a nasty climb to make life very interesting and very difficult for the pure sprinters. The punchier sprinters, however, might find the going much more to their liking alongside some of the GC contenders able to power up the short 4.5% average gradient climb.
Mirco Maestri took the first intermediate sprint points with 115.5km covered as the peloton’s formation remained largely unchanged until Jumbo-Visma made their way to the head of the race. There seemed to be no sense of concern that the peloton might struggle to bring back the breakaway despite still having more than 6 minutes to make up with 110km remaining.
That lead grew again to over 8.50mins before the likes of UAE Team Emirates, BORA-Hansgrohe, Lotto Soudal and Deceuninck-Quick Step joined together to begin cutting the break’s lead back in earnest. With 70km to go the gap was down to 6.20mins and it would continue to progressively dissolve from there. At the second intermediate sprint it was Damiano Cima who comfortably took maximum points as behind them the field bunched up a lot more up front with Team Ineos, Team Sunweb and Bahrain Merida all fighting for position at the front along with BORA-Hansgrohe and Movistar.
With 37km to go Jack Bauer sat second wheel in the Mitchelton-SCOTT train that was now at the head of the race and 3.38mins behind the breakaway. The gap continued to tumble to 2.15mins with 26km to go as Israel Cycling Academy got in on the action to bring the race back together. Katusha-Alpecin were also showing signs of interest at the front as the gap continued to fade to 1.30mins with 20km left to race.
At 20km to go an attack from Frapporti dropped Cima, leaving just Maestri to go with him as the gap dropped beneath 1 minute with 16km left to race. Behind the two leaders Lotto Soudal, Team Sunweb, Groupama-FDJ and Team Ineos continued to fight for control of the race as the gap dropped further. But it was with 12.5km to go that the first of a couple of very significant crashes brought down about four riders including James Knox of Deceuninck-Quick Step; a repeat victim of crashes in the Giro so far. Victor Campenaerts of Lotto Soudal, Tobias Ludviggson of Groupam-FDJ and Jay McCarthy of BORA-Hansgrohe were also victims in the crash although all would finish.
Finally the two leaders were caught with 10.6km remaining and it was all on for the finish. The maglia rosa of Primož Roglič was well positioned on the front of the race amongst the jostling between a fusion of GC teams and sprint teams who all fancied their chances for the win. But with 6.3km to go a big crash took down a large number of riders including several from Katusha-Alpecin. A second crash, however, brought down a host of GC contenders, with Tom Dumoulin the biggest of the victims. He was able to remount but was well and truly out of contention for the stage and quite possibly the entire race.
Up ahead the race was at full stretch as a very small group went full gas onward towards the finish line. BORA-Hansgrohe, Groupama-FDJ, Lotto Soudal were all there but crucially so too was Roglič while a host of other contenders were in the numerous small groups behind him. Simon Yates, Vincenzo Nibali, Ilnur Zakarin and Tony Gallopin were all among the first chase group with the likes of Mikel Landa losing more time behind.
With 2km to go UAE Team Emirates put in a big surge to the front as Elia Viviani cracked from the leading group as the road went uphill. A mixture of riders were still together with 1km to go as Caleb Ewan, Pascal Ackermann and Arnaud Demare got ready to take on Roglič, Diego Ulissi, Florian Sénéchal and Richard Carapaz. But it was Carapaz who struck for home and found clear daylight to the field behind him. With 250m to go Caleb Ewan launched his sprint to try and get across to the Ecuadorian, but he’d timed the sprint just fractionally too late as Carapaz was left to celebrate a famous win.
A big chase from the Simon Yates group meant that the Brit alongside Nibali, Jungels, Majka and co conceded just 16 seconds to Roglič, with Landa conceding a further 18 seconds. However, it was Tom Dumoulin who was the biggest victim in the GC battle from the day’s crashes, losing 4 minutes to the maglia rosa and dropping from 5th to 56th overall.