Stage profile: A challenging out-and-back route in Verona which combines long, straight stretches – requiring power and aero efficiency – and a technical middle section. There is even a small hill to tackle at about one-third distance – 2.6% for 3.7km – but it could force teams to tail riders off the back earlier than they would like. The fastest teams should break 38 minutes, with slower squads losing over a minute.
Top three: 1. Garmin-Barracuda 37:04, 2. Katusha +0:05, 3. Astana +0:22.
How the stage was won: The stage was won by the team that specialises in these stages and spends plenty of time in their planning, preparation and execution. Garmin-Barracuda smashed everyone’s split times and, having inexplicably lost Alex Rasmussen en route, still had time in hand to wait for Lithuanian Ramunas Navardauskas (formerly of VC La Pomme Marseille) to get back onto the pace line, sail into pink and become the first ever Lithuanian in a Grand Tour leader’s jersey. He also takes over the young rider’s white jersey. There were a few surprises, most notably Katusha in second place and Saxo Bank, who finished fourth on the same time as Astana. Sky and BMC, who were both nursing injured riders, finished lower than anticipated in ninth and tenth respectively. Sadly, my beloved Carrots once again collected the wooden spoon, finishing in 22nd place, 2:22 down on the winners, despite plenty of practice on the road yesterday.
Quote of the day: After the stage, Navardauskas said:
We thought we could win today, but I wasn’t sure if I could hang with these guys. They were really strong today. Everybody did a good job. I was so glad to stay with these guys as I tired in the last 10km. This jersey is a really big thing for me.
Odd occurrences: The tailing off of Garmin’s Alex Rasmussen, a time trial specialist, halfway into the stage when he would have been a shoe-in for the maglia rosa.
VeloVoices rider of the stage: Taylor Phinney, who has won legions of friends with his maturity, disarming charm and fluent Italian, gave his all in the defence of the pink jersey. Monday’s fall and injury aside, it was always going to be a tall order to hang onto the maglia rosa particularly when he and a teammate had a small foray into the grass verge, where he dug out a largish divot but still managed to remain upright.
1. Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda) 10:01:33
2. Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:10
3. Robert Hunter (Garmin-Barracuda) same time
4. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda) +0:11
5. Taylor Phinney (BMC) +0:13
Points leader: Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE).
King of the Mountains leader: Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini).
Tomorrow: Stage 5 – Modena to Fano, 209km. A flat, straight featureless stage for over 170km before a series of small climbs and then a flat final 13km. Expect late attacks on the climbs, but the flat run-in should still ensure a bunch sprint.
And here is Cycling the Alps‘ fly-over of the route:
Link: Official website