Stage 4 of the 2021 Giro d’Italia had it all. A popular stage winner in the form of UAE’s Joe Dombrowski, a new race leader with Israel Start-Up’s Alessandro De Marchi and the first hints about which of the GC favourites are contenders and who look like pretenders. And the best name in the peloton is now in the white jersey of the Best Young Rider: Attila Valter. How can you not love the Giro?
Today’s stage saw the peloton’s climbing legs tested for the first time as the road headed upwards. Three thousand metres of climbing was on the menu for the peloton and that was served with side-orders of rain and wind.
Officially fairly grim pic.twitter.com/z9P4DNlU7I
— Journal Velo (@JournalVelo) May 11, 2021
White socks were quickly ruined and white lines had to be studiously avoided. If you want to know how grim it was then look at the Official Cycling Fans Grimometer. You will see that when there are no live pictures, then it means it’s proper grim.
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) May 11, 2021
A 25-man break formed over the first hour of racing. The haze of drizzle and mist whittled that down to a two-man lead break and a larger chase group.
At one point it seemed as if everyone’s favourite underdog team Wanty could take pink, courtesy of Rein Taaramae’s advantage at the front. Hearts were breaking, however, when Taaremae and his break-buddy Chris Juul-Jensen (Bike Exchange) got reeled in on the day’s final climb.
Rein is virtually in pink, leading the race with Juul Jensen (BikeExchange). Quinten sacrificed himself so we could still maintain a gap on the chase.
Superb racing from our guys yet again 👊 pic.twitter.com/jf3bjTkHgZ
— Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert (@IntermarcheWG) May 11, 2021
Taaramae and Juul-Jensen had been working together since the race hit the 70km to go mark and they had nothing left to give as Alessandro De Marchi hauled the chase group towards them. Only Joe Dombrowski of UAE could come across with De Marchi and when the catch was made, Taaramae and Juul-Jensen quickly went south.
Sean Kelly trying to say Taaramae was the most difficult thing today #Giro104
— Sadhbh O'Shea (@SadhbhOS) May 11, 2021
How it was won
As they pulled away, Dombrowski never looked comfortable. His shoulders were swinging from side to side, his head bobbing up and down. It looked like Dombrowski was in a wrestling match with his bike and his bike was winning. In contrast, De Marchi looked so much better with all his effort going in a straight line. But despite the Royal Rumble going on in his body, Dombrowski proved to be the strongest and De Marchi couldn’t keep up with him.
Joe Dombrowski looks great on a bike.
Long gangly climber types always look ace. #Giro
— Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985) May 11, 2021
Once he’d crested the climb, the American rider comfortably held on for the final two and a half undulating kilometres to the line. It’s been 9 years since Dombrowski won the baby Giro, he’s ridden in 8 grand tours since 2015 and never won a stage.
— Neal Rogers (@nealrogers) May 11, 2021
Alessandro De Marchi followed Joe home 13 seconds later. More than enough to put the Italian into the maglia rosa.
Words for the winner
As we saw yesterday with Taco van der Hoorn, the Twitterazzi loved this win!
Kudos to the U.S. rider Joe Dombrowski @JoeDombro on winning a stage of the Giro d'Italia — he's been on a long, winding road, and a win like today's must have felt great. *EAST COAST CYCLING REPRESENTS!*
— Jason Gay (@jasongay) May 11, 2021
Great to see Joe Dombrowski win a Grand Tour stage at last too. After Merlier and van der Horn, he's the third first-time GT stage-winner in a row #Giro104
— Peter Cossins (@petercossins) May 11, 2021
Been at many MABRA races where @JoeDombro dominated all of us. He was 16.. and killing everyone! Nicest dude. Couldn’t be happier for such a good person!
— Chris Carlson (@Kiss_my_Panache) May 11, 2021
Words from the winner
“It’s hard to know what was going to happen. I was feeling good and trying to be conservative as I knew the last climb was a tough one. In the breakaway, I was able to follow everything and I knew keeping De Marchi’s wheel would mean I would be in a good spot.
Getting the win is a nice way to finish the day”
Pink for the veteran Italian
I usually hate the “strongest rider in the race” tag. To me, it usually refers to someone who made all the moves except the actual winning one. But Alessandro De Marchi was the strongest rider in the race today and deservedly took the leader’s pink jersey. The Italian, who’s been at it even longer than Dombrowski, was the powerhouse in the chase group and did so much work in catching the two leaders.
Look at what getting pink meant. [Oh, we love it when riders cry with joy! – ed]
— Israel Start-Up Nation / Israel Cycling Academy (@TeamIsraelSUN) May 11, 2021
He said afterwards:
“The goal was the maglia rosa, I started thinking about it two days ago but didn’t tell anyone. I had a bit of luck then made the right move. [The pink jersey] is the dream of every cyclist, especially if you’re Italian. I was scared at one point that it wouldn’t happen but… never give up”
The GC gets a good old shake
Behind the stage winners, the GC favourites had some sorting out of their own to do. On the day’s final climb attacks flew and a few big names blew.
The lead favourites group included Egan Bernal (Ineos), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana), Mikel Landa (Bahrain) and Hugh Carthy (EF).
Coming in 11 seconds behind that group we saw another grouping containing, amongst others, Remo Evanapoel (QuickStep), Romain Bardet (DSM), Simon Yates (Bike Exchange) and Dan Martin (Israel SN).
Riders losing 34 seconds on the GC guys included Vincenzo Nibali (Trek), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora),Mark Soler (‘because he’s Marc Soler’), and Jai Hindley (DSM).
But there were even bigger losers. George Bennett of Jumbo was 1:30 down on leaders and Joao Almeida of QuickStep lost nearly 4:30. !
The lack of pictures led to FDJ doing their best work of the Giro so far. Sadly it was on the Twitter rather than on the road
— Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ (@GroupamaFDJ) May 11, 2021
The last word
This has been a very good start to the Giro. #Giro104
— Luke (@LukeTheCycliste) May 11, 2021
Stage 4 Top 5
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 11, 2021
1 Joe Dombrowski (UAE More Than One Rider) 4:58:38
2 Alessandro De Marchi (Israel ‘Starting to look not a bad team’ Nation) +0:13
3 Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani lotsa sponsors) +0:27
4 Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-DontNeedMvdP-Finex) +0:29
5 Jan Tratnik (Bahrain-Vicfifthious) same time
GC Top 10
— Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 11, 2021
1 Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start Up Nation) 13:50:44
2 Joe Dombrowski (UAE) +0:22
3 Louis Veraeke (Alpecin-Fenix) +0:42
4 Nelson Oliviera (Movistar) +0:48
5 Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) +1:00
6 Nicolas Edit (Cofidis) +1:15
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) +1:24
8 Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep) +1:28
9 Alberto Bettiol (EF) +1:37
10 Hugh Carthy (EF) +1:38
All the jerseys
Jerseys after Stage 4
💗🏆 Alessandro De Marchi 🇮🇹
💜💨 Tim Merlier 🇧🇪
💙⛰️ Joe Dombrowski 🇺🇸
🤍👶 Attila Valter 🇭🇺 pic.twitter.com/mRd2ee9AP4
— pro cycling trumps (@procycletrumps) May 11, 2021