On a stage that proved to be more exciting than anticipated, Davide Formolo attacked from the break ahead of the last climb to solo to his first professional victory. Simon Clarke, also in the day’s break, finished runner-up to take ownership of the race leader’s pink jersey, retaining it within his Orica-GreenEDGE team.
Rider of the day
The much-lauded new star of Italian cycling has delivered on his undoubted promise. After a string of promising top ten results last year and this, including runner-up to Vincenzo Nibali in the Italian national championships, Cannondale-Garmin neo-pro Davide Formolo recorded his first ever professional victory in La Spezia.
His smooth, baby-faced looks belie his mature, measured and assured racing. One of the many in the break of the day, he caught everyone napping when he attacked before the final climb around 15km from the finish. Amael Moinard (BMC) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) gave chase but Formolo crested the cat 3 climb with 10km to go with 30 seconds in hand over the duo.
Behind them, the 15-strong chasing group included GC contenders Fabio Aru (Astana), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Sky’s Richie Porte. Moinard and Visconti were caught inside of 5km, while the 22 year-old Italian hung on to his slender lead on the flat run-in to the finish in La Spezia.
As Formolo explained post-race, fighting to hold back the emotion amid dawning realisation of what he’d just achieved:
The final 500 metres were absolutely incredible. The noise of the crowd made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I only knew I’d won the stage 100 metres from the finish line. I wasn’t thinking of the maglia rosa. I’m riding my first Giro d’Italia, so I’m taking it day by day and there is no pressure on me.
Four things we noticed
1. Televising the entire stage. We like that RCS chose to show the stage in its entirety. Watching from the start really helps understand the race’s dynamics, teams’ strategies and how the successful break forms. More importantly, we see how much effort is involved in getting into that break and making it stick. I could happily watch the whole stage every day. But, please, don’t do it every day. I do need to get some work done.
2. Shorter, punchier stages. These make for more exciting racing and viewing. And, what a humdinger of a stage it turned out to be – so unpredictable. Beforehand, most commentators were saying it would be pretty much as per stage three with Michael Matthews staying in the maglia rosa. But there was so much action, it was hard keeping up with who was where as the peloton was shredded, particularly in the latter stages as Astana sought to isolate Contador and engineer an early upset.
There were a number of riders whose GC ambitions have been severely dented. In particular, spare a thought for Rigoberto Uran who lost key teammate Pieter Serry on stage two, Gianni Meersman today and missed the decisive attack. He’s lying 14th overall, over a minute off the pace.
3. The scenery. I expect the Italian Riviera Tourism Board to profit massively from the shots of spectacular scenery, idyllic coves, gentle blue waters and wall-to-wall sunshine. What’s not to love about La Dolce Vita? Shame the peloton doesn’t have time to enjoy it.
4. Viva Pozzo! Finally, Ag2r’s Domenico Pozzovivo was released from hospital with facial injuries and went home with his parents, vowing to return at the Tour de Suisse. They’re tough nuts, these cyclists!
Stage 4 result
1. Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) 3:47:59
2. Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:22
3. Jonathan Monsalve (Southeast) same time
4. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) s/t
5. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) s/t
1. Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) 11:54:48
2. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:10
3. Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) +0:17
4. Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) s/t
5. Fabio Aru (Astana) +0:23
6. Dario Cataldo (Astana) s/t
7. Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) +0:29
8. Amael Moinard (BMC) +0:31
9. Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) s/t
10. Richie Porte (Sky) +0:37
Points leader: Elia Viviani (Sky).
King of the Mountains leader: Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha).
Best young rider: Esteban Chavez (Orica-GreenEDGE).
Team classification: Orica-GreenEDGE.
Link: Official race website