Stage 4) Piacenza - Sestola
Italy Tuesday 11 May 2021 187 km
Giro d’Italia: First skirmishes between the GC contenders
Tuesday afternoon the race said goodbye to Piedmont, heading to Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s most beautiful regions, for a medium mountain stage. After a flat 80 kilometers, the terrain became rougher, but neither this nor the filthy weather conditions could stop the huge 25-man front group that went clear from nudging out their advantage to an incredible eight minutes, the biggest lead a breakaway enjoyed since the start of the race.
Riding his seventh Giro d’Italia, Pieter Serry booked a place in the large break from where a couple of riders decided to try their chance with 70 kilometers to go, when it became clear they wouldn’t get caught by the bunch. Some 40 kilometers from the finish, Deceuninck – Quick-Step moved to the front, setting a steady tempo that reduced the attackers’ advantage. By the time the leading duo arrived on the early slopes of the last climb, they had in hand just four minutes, but their former companions were much closer and managed to make the catch two kilometers from the top. From that small group, Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) soloed to victory, while Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) took the pink jersey.
Averaging an incredible 9.9% over 4.3 kilometers, Colle Passerino was the toughest climb faced by the riders since the start of the Corsa Rosa, featuring inside the final ten kilometers of the stage to Sestola. It was here that unfortunately João Almeida lost contact with the depleted peloton, from where some of the GC contenders showed their intentions a couple of minutes later, attacking on the double-digit gradients and opening a small gap over the rest. Remco Evenepoel found himself distanced, but fought hard and limited the losses to just a couple of seconds, a result that at the end of the day put him into eighth overall.
Despite conceding some time on the finish line, Remco was content with how he felt and how the day panned out: “The final climb was a tough one and the weather didn’t help. The effort I had to do was a short and intense one, something that I didn’t do for some time now, and I think I managed it well. When the others attacked, I didn’t want to explode and lose too much time, so I rode at my own pace. I think I managed it well, losing just a few seconds. My body needs to get used again with this kind of racing and with this type of weather, but overall, I am satisfied with this stage. A big thanks to the boys for protecting me today.”
“We knew it was going to be a very hard day for everybody and the goal was not to lose too much time, which we succeeded with Remco. We will try to recover now from this effort, hopefully we’ll have an easy day tomorrow and we’ll then see what we can do in the next stages”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images