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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road. - Stephen Hawking

Current racing:

Latest completed racing:


Giro d'Italia stage four team reports

We posted the organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Richard Carapaz's Team Movistar:

Barely 24 hours after a mechanical + pile-up cost him nearly fifty seconds over the main GC group, Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) recovered from a psychological standpoint, looked towards the 2019 Giro d’Italia with the same excitement and happiness he’d done before the start -and also in his debut in 2018- and raised his arms victorious with an intelligent, powerful attack at the end of stage four, a 235km ‘marathon’ towards Frascati with a demanding uphill finish.

Richard Carapaz

Richard Carapaz wins Giro stage four. Sirotti photo

The relax in the peloton for the early two thirds of the race was replaced by the usual stress in finishes like those, with Antonio Pedrero, Héctor Carretero, Andrey Amador and José Joaquín Rojas once again keeping Landa and Carapaz well protected. The two got through a big pile-up in the bunch with five kilometers to go, staying into a 40-man peloton which seemed destined to contest the day’s success into the 2km, 4% finishing slope. However, another crash into a roundabout further split the lead group, taking Landa down and 44″ off the front at the finish.

Carapaz resisted inside the 13-man group that kicked off the climb with a chance to win, and against the tired lead-out men ahead of the sprinters, he waited for the last 500 meters to launch his move, a brutal signature acceleration, and hold off faster finishers such as Diego Ulissi (UAD, 3rd) and Caleb Ewan (LTS), who made things incredibly hard for the Carchi native at the end. A victory -his second in the Giro d’Italia and the sixth of his pro career- to smile again and keep the Movistar Team’s morale high to keep seeking for success in the 2019 ‘Corsa Rosa’.

REACTION:
Richard Carapaz: “I’m just so emotional at this moment! I just can’t feel happier. I had a different mentality heading into today’s stage. It was such an unlucky finished yesterday. I just wanted to turn back the clock today, start from zero. And that’s how it happened. We knew that such a long stage, with many little ascents, would suit us a bit better, but I wasn’t really thinking about contesting the victory, never mind taking it. Our team’s strategy today was just staying with the top contenders and having all team-mates taking care of Mikel and myself. Sadly, that crash split the bunch, Mikel and other team-mates were also involved later on, and the team told me to stay there at the front and give it a try if I could.

“I knew there were some fast legs into that group, yet I sought for my chance. With 600 meters to go, I saw an opportunity to launch a move that could stick, jumped away with my everything, and saw that I had a good distance, even if I had to push myself over the limit in the end because Ewan was coming back. It’s such an emotional day for me, even more so after what we had to endure yesterday, following all the efforts in the last few months to come here in good condition. I’m now just thinking about everyone who supports us, me and the team, my loving family, my team, my country. I’m just so happy.“

Stage four runner-up Caleb Ewan's Lotto-Soudal team sent me this report:

Caleb Ewan finished second today in the fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia. The run-up to the punchy final climb was marred by a massive crash, which caused a big split in the peloton. Only a handful of riders would battle for the win in Frascati. With the ultimate corner in sight, the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz attacked fiercely but Caleb Ewan realised the danger and launched an impressive sprint to chase him down. The Australian still reached the wheel of Carapaz but had to settle for second place at the end. European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts was involved in a crash at the very end of the stage but only has minimal hindrance of his wrist.  

Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (right) and Richard Carapaz steam for the line. Sirotti photo 

Right after the start, three Italian riders escaped. The peloton did not worry too much and granted Cima, Frapporti and Maestri - with a long day in the saddle ahead - over ten minutes advantage. Eventually, the break was caught - after riding over 200 kilometres at the front - at ten kilometres from the line. Only moments later, a massive crash caused a split in the peloton. Around fifteen riders - including Caleb Ewan and Tosh Van der Sande - would battle for the stage victory in Frascati. At 500 metres from the finish, the Movistar rider Richard Carapaz surprised and attacked. Caleb Ewan started to chase and tried to catch the Ecuadorian rider with an impressive sprint. After a tremendous effort, the Australian still reached his wheel but it was Carapaz who was the first rider to cross the line.

Caleb Ewan: “The three-rider breakaway was a perfect situation. They were granted quite an advantage but that wasn’t really a problem due to the 235 kilometres long stage. We know it would be a hectic finale but we stayed at the front almost all day. I heard some riders crashing behind me. That way, I was part of around twenty riders at the front. The goal was to start the final two kilometres at the front, which also succeeded. The group was reduced step by step and Tosh kept me in the perfect position.”

“I saw Carapaz go at 500 metres from the line but at first, it was Team UAE that set the pace. With 300 metres to go I launched my sprint but eventually, I wasn’t able to pass him anymore. Today I once again proved that such finishes really suit me. As a sprinter, it is really hard to battle against better climbers like Ulissi, Roglič and Carapaz. Of course, I am disappointed because you not often get a chance to win a Grand Tour stage. Sunday I finished third, today second. Tomorrow, there’s a flat stage and I am convinced that I can once again battle for victory. It is only a pity that I wasn’t able to seize this opportunity. As a team we did great and unfortunately, that didn’t result in a win.”

The Dutchman Groenewegen won the opening stage of 4 Jours de Dunkerque. Unfortunately, Lotto Soudal rider Jelle Wallays - who returned to competition in Dunkerque - crashed at seventeen kilometres to go. The 30-year-old Belgian wasn’t able avoid a crash that happened in front of him and placed his hand to break the fall. At the moment, there is nothing to worry about but it remains to be seen whether there will be a possible swelling around the wrist. Enzo Wouters was the first Lotto Soudal rider to finish on 22nd place.

Third-place Diego Ulissi's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

It was another drama-filled day, as once again late crashes changed the dynamic of the race coming into the closing stages. With the peloton approaching the 12 km to go mark, the first crash took down a handful of riders.

Luckily, none of UAE Team Emirates’ stage hopefuls were impacted, but it was the second larger crash 6,1km from the finish that blocked the road and caused the bulk of riders to come to a standstill, including the Points jersey wearer, Fernando Gaviria.

However, emerging with the front group were three men in the UAE Team Emirates jersey, in prime position as they entered the final kilometre – amongst them, Diego Ulissi. His teammates Marco Marcato and Valerio Conti provided a small lead out train, with the Italian showing great strength on the short climb to the finish line.

An early attack from Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) paid off, with the South American crossing the line to take first place, followed by Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Ulissi in third. Conti was seventh.

Diego Ulissi

Diego Ulissi finishes third. Sirotti photo

The result sees Ulissi jump eight places in the GC and break into the top five, where he sits 44” seconds behind the GC leader, Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma).

Commenting on the top three finish, Ulissi said: “When the crash occurred, I managed to be in the front of the group and to avoid being stopped. I was with Marcato and Conti and we tried to set a high pace, being aware that the final part of the course was not so steep, and that there still were sprinters such as Viviani, Demare, Ackermann and Ewan with us.

"Carapaz was perfect in seizing the time of his action, then Ewan’s sprint was very fast, so I was third. When Carapaz attacked, I waited for someone to react but no one did. Obviously I would have preferred to win, but considering that the final was not so demanding and that we did the best to make it difficult, I have no regrets”.

Stage five will see riders start with an uphill battle, as they set out on the 140km route from Frascati to Terracina. There are two early climbs, with another at just over the half way stage and should the breakaway be in form, they just might have the chance to steal a stage win.

And fourth-place Pascal Ackermann's Bora-hansgrohe team sent this report:

Today the riders could expect another long day in the saddle. The fourth stage of the Giro d’Italia stretched over 223 km from Orbetello to Frascati, a town southeast of Rome. The parcours featured no significant ascents, nevertheless almost 2,300m elevation gain had to be taken on.

The first few kilometres were flat before the peloton reached the first and only climb of the day in Manciano, which was a fourth category climb. The course subsequently remained flat but the final stretch was somewhat challenging. The final kilometres around the outskirts of the Italian capital went over undulating terrain and contained several tricky curves. The finishing straight initially went slightly downhill before the stage concluded with an uphill and ever so slightly twisting finish, which had an average gradient of 4.4 per cent but ramped up to 7 percent over some sectors.

Right from the start of the stage, three riders escaped and their advantage over the main field extended to a maximum of 12:30 minutes. However, after 65 km on the road, Lotto Soudal and Groupama-FDJ came to the front in an attempt to bring the breakaway back, and as a result their advantage began to shrink to a more manageable time of 7 minutes.

With 85 km to the finish Pawel Poljkanski came to the front of the main field to assist Deceunink - Quick-Step and UAE Team Emirates in bringing the gap down further. A little later on, further BORA-hansgrohe riders joined Pawel at the head of the field to drive the chase of the leading trio out in front.  At 25 km to go several teams attempted to position themselves at the front of the race to reel back the escapees who after having being out in front all day eventually were caught.

Back in the field a small group of riders including Cesare Benedetti crashed but fortunately he was able to mount his bike and continue the race. Shortly afterwards a second crash took out some the favorites and as a result the field split. Pascal Ackermann was in the front group who made their way to the uphill finish.

With 500m to go R. Carapaz attacked but nobody was able to follow him and he sprinted first over the line. Pascal came in fourth position and regained the Maglia Ciclamino. His teammate Rafal Majka was able to hold on to 6th place in the general classification.

From the finish line:
"It was a super hard stage. It was hectic, everybody was nervous and it was dangerous due to the curves in the road. The guys kept me up front but then there was a crash and I believe one of our guys were also involved. We put the hammer down but in the end I didn't have the legs. But I think we can still be happy with the result today."
- Pascal Ackermann

“The goal for today was to bring Pascal in a position from where he could partake in the sprint. We knew that the finale would be very difficult, but eventually he made it there at the end. He was able to contest for the win, but after 235 kilometres with strong winds and a very long distance to ride, he didn’t have the legs anymore, to compete with strong climbers like Carapaz or uphill sprint specialists like Ewan. Despite that, we are not disappointed. It was yet another strong placing by him and other chances are definitely yet to come. Our GC riders were also able to avoid the crashes and did not lose any time.”
- Jens Zemke, Sports Director

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