Stage 4 has its similarities to stage 3 in that there is a climb near the end, but unlike Monday’s stage there is only 6.7 kilometres from the summit of the Croce Ferrata to the finish in Serra San Bruno. The start of the stage is in Policastro Bussentino and the first climb summits after 206.8 kilometres; the Cat 3 Vibo Valentina climbs to 498 metres in around 15 kilometres. The main obstacle of the day is the Croce Ferrata, it starts in Sorriano Calabro after 227.7 kilometres and climbs to 907 metres in 11.5 kilometres. From the top it will be another crazy drop to the line. Today is the longest stage of this year’s Giro at 246 kilometres.
Stage 3 Fly Through from globalcyclingnetwork.
Seven get the Gap!
Eventually a group of seven riders managed to make a solid break after a bit of a tussle with riders either coming forward or dropping back. The seven were: Johan Le Bon & Francis Mourey (FDJ), Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Miguel Minguez & Ioannis Tamouridis (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM). After 40 kilometres the break had consolidated its lead with a nice advantage of 7 minutes.
Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) was the highest placed rider in the escape, he was sitting in 48th place overall at 2:39 this morning, maybe he is a rider not to given too much time this early in the Giro. Of the others Francis Mourey of FDJ is the current French cyclo-cross champion and Euskaltel-Euskadi’s Ioannis Tamouridis is the first rider from Greece to ride the Giro d’Italia.
Mark Cavendish led the crew out of Policastro Bussentino.
At the feed zone in Svinc. Di Paola after 110 kilometres the lead was 6 minutes and 40 seconds and the road is pan flat until they get to the Lago di Angitola after 190 kilometres and then the road heads in land, right on the toe of Italy.
As expected the Katusha team were in control of the race and were happy to leave the seven riders out front, but they started to pull them back to just over 4 minutes with 100 kilometres to go.
The Beginning of the End for the Break
As the race got into the last 100K’s Katusha started to lift the pace with Garmin-Sharp and Astana in close attendance.
The riders in the break started attacking each other coming to the special sprint in Marinella di San Eufemia, which also didn’t help their lead. Johan Le Bon (FDJ), Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Miguel Minguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) made the split, Sella, Tamouridis and Mourey didn’t.
Ligthart was first through the sprint at Marinella di San Eufemia and the lead had risen again to 3 minutes 28 seconds between the four and the three chasers and 5 minutes to the peloton and there was still 79 kilometres to go.
Katusha had to do all the work on the flat road towards the most southerly part of Italy, but Paolini had been to his DS and then talked with some other riders, so it looked like Katusha were tired of doing all the work. This seemed to be the case as Vini Fantini-Selle Italia came to the front to relieve Katusha. At the back of the peloton there was a fairly bad crash involving three Omega Pharma – Quick-Steps, a couple of Lotto Belisols and a Movistar and a few other riders but all got back without a problem.
With 60 kilometres to go Sky, Movistar, Saxo-Tinkoff, Lotto Belisol and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia all had men on the front and the lead started to fall rapidly and was soon under 2 minutes.
The climb of the Vibo Valentina started with the leaders only having 1 minute and 22 seconds in hand as they rode round the Lago di Angitola. The lead dipped below 1 minute as the road started to rise, Julien Berard was the first to panic and attack, Miguel Minguez jumped after him, although he was hampered by having a lot of bottles up his jersey, he must have been expecting to be caught. Le Bon and Ligthart were not finished and were close to catching Berard as the now bottle-less Minguez set off on his own with 50 kilometres remaining. Ligthart had the extra problem of a piece of cane stuck on his bike, between the bottom bracket and the rear end.
Minguez pressed on as Ligthart and Berard were swept up by the peloton as Le Bon tried his hardest to stay clear. The race climbed into the low cloud that had turned to rain at the finish and was threatening to get quite heavy on the course.
Le Bon was caught and replaced by one of the riders from yesterday’s break; Lotto Belisol’s Dirk Bellemakers, it was short lived and the big Dutchman was caught just before Minguez was also back in the fold and it was “Gruppo Compatto” for most of the climb.
Next to try was Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano), he was joined by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox) and at the top they had a 10 second lead with Pirazzi taking the mountains points as Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) took 3rd and his KOM jersey back (for the moment).
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had a problem and needed to swap his rear wheel with a team mate (Agnoli) and make a crazy chase back to the peloton. At the same time Leonardo Duque (Colombia) went off the front as the race dropped below the rain clouds, no one came up to help him and he was caught.
There was a lull in the action which let Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano) again and Frederick Willems (Lotto Belisol) slip off the front to get 30 seconds on the peloton with 25 kilometres to go. The race still had to drop into the valley before taking on the last climb of the Croce Ferrata.
22.8 kilometres left and it was all together again as the foothills of the climb started to hurt the legs of what looked like about half of the peloton, the others would be in the “autobus” now to the finish.
20 K’s to go!
Under the 20K to go banner 5 riders tried to forge a split, Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) was the power man through the village of Soriano Calabro for the special sprint. With Marcato was Sylvain George (Ag2r-La Mondiale), but not for long as George was the next to head off on his own.
Into the last 15 kilometres and Sylvain George had tried very hard and was 40 seconds up on the shrinking peloton as Sky took over the lead work of the peloton with Siutsou on the front with three team mates and Bradley Wiggins on his shoulder. The main bunch of GC hopefuls looked to be down to around 30 or 40 riders at most and the rain started to fall. Sylvain George had 20 seconds in hand at the 10K point, Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) saw his chance and crossed to the Frenchman with Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) along for the ride.
George couldn’t hold on and was soon jettisoned as Di Luca pushed hard towards the summit. Chalapud hung on as best he could, but it was not easy for the Colombian, at the top Chalapud came past Di Luca on the line and it was down to the descent to find the winner.
Di Luca put his head down and again the Colombian was in trouble on the Italian’s wheel as they had around 10 seconds advantage with 5 kilometres to go to Serra San Bruno. The road was very wet, but luckily wide and smooth towards the village and the tighter sections of road to the line.
1.5 kilometres and the bunch could see the two escapees, Chalapud had to come to the front, Di Luca took a short breather and then gave it his all for the last kilometre, but it wasn’t enough as the first wave of the peloton overhauled him metres from the line. The Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox team were the most obvious riders on the front and their man Enrico Battaglin was first over the line through pouring the rain. Fabio Felline (Andrioni Giocattoli-Venezuela) was second and ex-Italian champion; Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) took third.
The main group had split during the chase, the Pink jersey of Luca Paolini (Katusha) was safe, but Bradley Wiggins (Sky) did lose some seconds, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) were there OK and Cadel Evans (BMC) moved up the overall a few more places.
Keep it PEZ for all the Giro action.
Giro d’Italia Stage 4 Result:
1. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox in 6:14:19
2. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar
4. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky
5. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC
7. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack Leopard
10. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 4:
1. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha in 15:18:51
2. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky at 0:17
3. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar at 0:26
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana at 0:31
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp at 0:34
6. Bradley Wiggins (GB) Sky
7. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 0:36
8. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky at 0:37
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia at 0:39
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 0:42.