Giro d’Italia: Diego Ulissi of Lampre-Merida has taken out stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia, after the race returned to home soil. The stage also saw Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin take back the pink leader’s jersey from Etixx – Quick-Step’s Marcel Kittel.
Ulissi was able to join a break within the last 20 kilometres, and made his winning move from that group. He was chased to the line by Tom Dumoulin and LottoNL-Jumbo’s Steven Kruijswijk, who ended up finishing five seconds down on the Italian in Praia a Mare. In contrasting scenes, however, Marcel Kittel found himself unable to stay with the group inside the final 20 kilometres, leaving Dumoulin to take back the leader’s jersey after his strong performance today.
Earlier in the stage, Matthias Brandle of IAM Cycling, Matej Mohoric of Lampre-Merida, Nicola Boem of Bardiani and Joey Rosskopf of BMC were the first four riders to break clear after just over 10 kilometres of racing. The group managed to gain an advantage of three minutes by the first climb, despite an earlier chase by Nippo Vini Fantini. However, with the pace yet again picking up in the peloton behind, the break was ultimately caught by the next climb.
After a series of futile attacks put several riders, including Marcel Kittel and his fellow sprinters, into difficulty on several occasions, a select group including Ulissi eventually managed to get clear with about half a minute’s advantage before the final climb. As the numbers in the front group gradually dwindled, the Italian broke free on the steepest section of the climb and crested the top solo. The final few kilometres to the finish came down to the wire, and Ulissi found his advantage being quickly eroded by a group of over 20 riders chasing behind. With a lack of organisation in the chase group, Dumoulin and Kruijswik jumped clear in an attempt to reel the Italian back in. However by the final kilometre, it became clear that Ulissi would be able to capitalise on his small advantage on the chasers and make it to the finish solo to take his fifth Giro d’Italia stage win.
Ulissi’s stage victory also sees him move up to third place in the general classification, at 20 seconds behind leader Tom Dumoulin.
Tomorrow’s stage is 233 kilometres long and will take the riders from Praia a Mare to Benevento. It will most likely play into the hands of the sprinters and end in a bunch sprint. Although Marcel Kittel once again stands a good chance, the finale is uphill rather rather technical, so several other riders of the likes of Trek-Segafredo’s Giacomo Nizzolo or FDJ’s Arnaud Démare will also likely be in contention.