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The Giro d’Italia came to the boil Tuesday with a dramatic day in the mountains.
The rain-soaked stage 4 was a day of two halves with Joe Dombrowski storming to a stage win in Sestola and Alessandro De Marchi taking up the role of Italian pink jersey wearer.
Behind the pair, the GC battle flared up for the first time since the prologue with Mikel Landa igniting a tussle for time on the final second-category climb. Egan Bernal, Hugh Carthy, and Alexandr Vlasov were able to follow the wily Spaniard but there were plenty of big losers on the short, but punchy rise to the finish.
So, what did the stars say after stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia? Here’s what:
Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 16th on the stage
Remco Evenepoel was one of those unable to follow Mikel Landa’s late attack, suffering somewhat thanks to his lack of racing miles over the last eight months. However, the young Belgian limited his losses well, only giving up 11 seconds to the riders who managed to escape up the road.
Thanks to the buffer he gave himself with his time trial performance on day one, Evenepoel is still ahead of most of the GC riders in the overall classification with just Alexandr Vlasov ahead of him. Evenepoel is now likely to shoulder Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s GC hopes after João Almeida lost more than four minutes on the other overall favorites.
“It was quite a hard day, especially because of the weather, but to be honest it was quite a hard final. I really feel that this is something that I did not do for quite a long time — short and really intense efforts in the final. I think I did my best and I also didn’t want to follow and explode myself. I just wanted to lose as little time as possible, and I think I did quite well only losing about 10 seconds on the big GC favorites.
“Nothing to complain about. The boys did an amazing job today, keeping me out of trouble and keeping me warm and dry, well as dry as possible. It was a good day, but for sure my body needs to get used to the rainy conditions and the long-distance races again. I’m just happy.”
— Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) May 11, 2021
Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo): 27th on the stage
Vincenzo Nibali was one of the bigger losers on the stage, shipping between 20-35 seconds to many of his GC rivals. How Nibali would go at the Giro d’Italia was an unknown after he broke his wrist leading into the race, and he appeared to struggle in his first real test, but there is still plenty of road to ride.
“It was a hard day; I don’t hide that I suffered. I had to defend myself and looking at how it went, I’m fairly satisfied. I think today could have ended worse for me. It was the first hard stage of the Giro, but the gap was limited. Let’s continue on.”
"It was a hard day; I don't hide that I suffered. I had to defend myself and looking at how it went, I'm fairly satisfied. I think today could have ended worse for me. It was the 1st hard stage of the #Giro, but the gap was limited. Let's continue on." pic.twitter.com/fQ7DL8htbi
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) May 11, 2021
Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation): New overall race leader
There was little surprise that Alessandro De Marchi was in the break on what was billed as the first major opportunity for the breakaway to succeed. The Italian veteran has made his name as a specialist of the discipline and he needed every ounce of his experience to come good.
Joe Dombrowski was able to drop him on the final climb, but De Marchi had the numbers advantage for the pink jersey after a strong opening-day time trial in Turin. This is the first time he wears the overall leader’s jersey at a grand tour.
“I must say that the goal was the maglia rosa. I started thinking about that two days ago. I also must say that I didn’t tell anybody this. Today was really to find the good move. I knew it could be tricky in the start, and with the big bunch, it was right to try to go in the breakaway. Then it was a bit about luck and getting in the right move. Here we are and I am without words.
“In the end, it is the dream of every cyclist [to wear the pink jersey], especially if you are Italian. Maybe I never really think about that but today when I thought there was an opportunity then I start to dream about it. I was scared that I had lost the opportunity in the middle of the race when the three guys went in front and we were quite behind. I was quite scared that we were too late but then it worked perfectly. Never give up.”
Romain Bardet (Team DSM): 17th on the stage
Romain Bardet finished alongside Remco Evenepoel in Sestola, losing 11 seconds to the group of favorites that attacked in the final kilometers. Bardet’s teammate, and last year’s runner-up, Jai Hindley was less lucky as he gave away closer to 30 seconds on that final ascent.
Nevertheless, Bardet was not overly displeased with how stage 4 played out with many more big mountains to come.
“It was quite a hard stage with the pouring rain all day and some tricky climbs but I think it went quite well for us. I was not too far from the front on the last climb when the attacks came so I think in the end it was a good stage. The guys protected me and Jai very well all day long. I think we can build on that, and the legs are good, and will improve day-by-day. It was a nice day and we’re looking forward to more.”