Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won the 4th stage of the Giro d’Italia, crossing the line solo after a late attack. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) brought a select group home for 2nd and Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) finished 3rd.
The 200km stage from Catanzaro to Praia a Mare turned out to be a lot harder than what it looked on paper. 4 riders went clear in the opening kilometers of the race but Nippo Vini-Fantini weren’t all that happy on missing the move and so they would chase at the head of the peloton for the next 70km, bringing the gap down from 2’40” to just 50″. They then had a rider try to jump across the gap but their tactic proved to be fruitless.
The fast start meant riders would reach the final undulating 70 kilometers of the stage with anything but fresh legs. There were 2 category 3 climbs as well 3 unclassified climbs to contend with before the finish line was reached and this was the setting for an attacking finale. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding in support of Kristian Sbaragli today, in the hope that our Italian would be able to make it over the climbs in order to sprint from a small group.
The 4 early leaders were caught on the final cat 3 climb and with 50km to go. Numerous attacks then followed by riders from the peloton and eventually 2 AG2R La Mondiale riders went clear. A large group of 17 riders rode across to them while the peloton chased at around 30″ in arrears. Sbaragli was part of the peloton and he still had Kanstantsin Siutsou, Igor Anton and Merhawi Kudus for support.
The breakaway riders began to attack one another as Movistar took up the chase in the peloton. Eventually 7 riders went clear while the rest from the break were absorbed back into the peloton. With 10km to go, the race hit a sharp 1.5km climb and this is where Ulissi took his chance and attacked the 6 other riders he was with. The Italian got a small gap and started the final 8km descent to the line with a 30″ lead over the chasing pack, which was now comprised of 25 riders. Our African Team only had Siutsou in the select group with Sbaragli, Kudus and Anton chasing in the 2nd group.
Ulissi was able to do enough to hold on for the victory by 5 seconds. Siutsou crossed the line as our best placed rider in 15th as a disappointed Sbaragli came in just 30 seconds later. By finishing 2nd, Dumoulin took over the race leaders pink jersey.
Jens Zemke – Sport Director
Our main objective was to have Kristian there for the sprint. We missed that when at 8km to go there was a small gap of maybe 30 meters between him and the front group. Igor tried to fight back with Kristian on his wheel but finally they were just a few meters behind and Ulissi won the stage. Kanstantsin was our best placed rider in 15th from a front group of 25 and in the next group was Kristian and Igor. We hoped for more than this especially with Kristian but the boys rode well. It was a really tough day with a really difficult final, always up and down and the racing was an open fire.