Lennard Kamna wins on Mount Etna as Juan Pedro Lopez becomes new leader at Giro d’Italia

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Lennard Kämna - Lennard Kamna wins on Mount Etna as Juan Pedro Lopez becomes new leader at Giro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGES

Lennard Kämna – Lennard Kamna wins on Mount Etna as Juan Pedro Lopez becomes new leader at Giro d’Italia – GETTY IMAGES

Lennard Kamna won stage four of the Giro d’Italia and Juan Pedro Lopez took over the leader’s pink jersey as the breakaway took the honours on Mount Etna.

Richard Carapaz led home a group of overall favourites that included Simon Yates – who recovered from an early spill – a little over two and a half minutes after Kamna sprinted clear of Lopez to win his second career grand tour stage.

“I’m so happy to have the stage win in the pocket,” Bora-Hansgrohe’s Kamna said. “For the team it’s great to earn a victory already and eases a lot of the pressure.”

Kamna and Lopez were the last survivors of a 14-strong breakaway that went away early on the 172km stage from Avola, but splintered at the start of the 22km climb to the finish.

Lopez reeled in an early move from Stefano Oldani but was then caught by Kamna with 2.5km to go. The Trek-Segafredo rider tried to challenge Kamna for the win but almost crashed on the final corner, and had to settle for taking the pink jersey from Mathieu van der Poel, who rode in as part of the grupetto.

“I’m so happy to take the jersey,” the Spaniard said. “I don’t believe it in the moment but I need to enjoy tomorrow and today and every moment with the jersey.

“We fought for the sprint, I nearly crashed. To fight for the victory is so difficult but I have the jersey so I’m happy.”

The win for the breakaway injected some big gaps into the general classification, with Yates dropping from second to fourth and seeing a 14-second deficit grow to one minute 42 seconds, though the riders in front of him – Lopez, Kamna, and Rein Taaramae will be of little concern.

The Briton was caught up in an early crash and had a couple of visits to the doctor’s car for treatment on his right knee, but showed no ill effects at the finish.

Others were not so lucky. Miguel Angel Lopez, Colombia’s main hope in this race in the absence of reigning champion Egan Bernal, abandoned early in the day with a left hip injury.

And things got worse for his Astana team when Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali, the main most likely to inherit the team leadership, was dropped by the peloton on Etna.

Tom Dumoulin, the 2017 Giro winner who took a break from the sport last year, showed he is not in the shape to contend this year as he too was dropped towards the finish.

“I’m just not feeling good,” the Dutchman said on Eurosport. “I worked hard to get here in the best shape possible. I just don’t have the legs.”​

The Giro continues on Wednesday with the 172km fifth stage from Catania to Messina and concludes in Verona on May 29.

03:08 PM

Kämna wins stage four at the Giro atop Mount Etna!

Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) has done it, the German took the final left-hand corner perfectly while Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) messed it up. It is not all doom and gloom for López, though. The 24-year-old from Lebrija in southern Spain who has no wins on his palmarès has just taken the maglia rosa off the shoulders of Mathieu an der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). The last Spaniard to wear the pink jersey was a certain Alberto Contador in 2015, so that will mean an awful lot to López who will, I suspect, hold this for a few days now. Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) rolled over the finishing line a 34sec later to take third.

Speaking at the line, Kämna said: “It was a super hard day, especially the last climb. I almost thought I had lost it when López had 30 seconds. When I reached him, maybe we had a silent agreement about winning the stage and taking the maglia rosa. I’m so happy to have a stage win in the pocket for the team. It takes some pressure off.”

Juan Pedro López  - GETTY IMAGESJuan Pedro López  - GETTY IMAGES

Juan Pedro López – GETTY IMAGES

López, meanwhile, said: “I’ve worked so hard today to take the jersey. I attacked in the steepest part of the climb. Kämna brought me back with 2 or 3 km to go. I tried to fight for the victory but it was so difficult. I’m so happy to have the Maglia Rosa. I don’t know for how long but I’ll enjoy it.”

Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) led the reduced peloton over the line 2min 37sec behind Kämna. The Ecuadorian opened up his sprint in the final straight, but despite his best efforts was unable to put any time into those in his slipstream. Romain Bardet (DSM), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) followed Carapaz, while Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) finished in 22nd spot, but on the same time as the rest of the general classification contenders.

Richard Carapaz - GETTY IMAGESRichard Carapaz - GETTY IMAGES

Richard Carapaz – GETTY IMAGES

As a result, Yates drops down two places on general classification at 1min 42sec behind López, Kämna and Taaramae, but remains the best placed of those expected to contest the overall general classification once the race winds up in Verona a little under three weeks from now. One rider who will not be challenging for the jersey – or anything – is Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) who was forced to abandon early in the stage with a hip injury.

Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma), who won the race in 2017, may still be on the starting line on Wednesday, but after he was dropped on Mount Etna the Dutchman dropped down the general classification like a stone. “I just don’t have the legs at the moment, I don’t know why,” a glum sounding Dumoulin told reporters at the finish line.

03:08 PM

1km to go

Rein Taaramae still trails by 30sec, so cannot see him bridging over. Next minute or so is all about Lennard Kämna and Juan Pedro López.

03:07 PM

1.5km to go

The peloton is 3min 30sec down the road and Simon Yates is up near the front now, the Briton riding alongside two or three team-mates.

03:05 PM

2km to go

Rein Taaramae is 34sec back on the stage leaders, but I think the Estonian is running out of road. The final kilometre is slightly downhill.

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final

03:04 PM

2.5km to go

And Lennard Kämna has caught Juan Pedro López. Will the pair collaborate here? Kämna for the stage and López for the pink, or is the Trek-Segafredo man going to go for the double?

03:02 PM

3km to go

Lennard Kämna is within touching distance of Juan Pedro López. Think it is only a matter of time before the German catches the Spaniard. But then what? Think Kämna should take this.

03:00 PM

4km to go

Juan Pedro López is fighting with his bike and gravity, throwing that small frame left to right while he gasps for air. Lennard Kämna, by contrast, is in the big ring and grinding his way up the road, nibbling away into the Spaniard’s lead which has now dropped to 13sec.

02:58 PM

4.5km to go

Vincenzo Nibali is the next former Giro d’Italia champion to be dropped on this climb. Not a great stage for the Sicilian or his team who earlier today lost their main general classification rider Miguel Ángel López.

02:56 PM

5.5km to go

Out of the forest emerges Juan Pedro López and into the lava fields on the upper slopes of Mount Etna. Back in the bunch, Pavel Sivakov has taken over on the front on behalf of Richard Carapaz who is third wheel behind another team-mate Richie Porte.

Richard Carapaz rides third wheel behind Pavel Sivakov and Richie Porte - GETTY IMAGESRichard Carapaz rides third wheel behind Pavel Sivakov and Richie Porte - GETTY IMAGES

Richard Carapaz rides third wheel behind Pavel Sivakov and Richie Porte – GETTY IMAGES

02:54 PM

6.5km to go

Lennard Kämna rides Mauri Vansevenant and Sylvain Moniquet off his wheel, the German now off up the road in pursuit of stage leader Juan Pedro López. He currently trials by around 30sec.

02:53 PM

7km to go

Juan Pedro López is riding at a steady tempo, holding on to that 39sec lead. Back in the peloton, Richard Carapaz briefly lost contact with his team-mates so it will be interesting to see if that was a brief blip, or something Ineos Grenadiers need to worry about.

02:51 PM

7.5km to go

Rein Taaramae is dropped by the chasing group, while Lennard Kämna is looking strong. The German who won a mountain stage at the 2020 Tour de France from a breakaway has Mauri Vansevenant and Sylvain Moniquet for company.

02:48 PM

8km to go | As it stands . . .

Juan Pedro López leads stage four at the Giro d’Italia

Stefano Oldani is second at 39sec

Lennard Kämna, Mauri Vansevenant, Sylvain Moniquet and Rein Taaramae at 44sec

Peloton at 4min 38sec

Tom Dumoulin, 2017 Giro winner, is dropped by the peloton.

02:46 PM

9km to go

Jonathan Castroviejo takes over on the front of the main bunch for Ineos Grenadiers. Richard Carapaz still has team-mates Richie Porte and Pavel Sivakov to help him up this climb.

02:44 PM

All change at the front . . .

. . . and Juan Pedro López leads the stage. Stefano Oldani continues riding, but at a considerably slower cadence than the stage leader who is twiddling away up this climb.

02:42 PM

10km to go

Stefano Oldani takes a bidon from neutral service, but there was no sticky bottle for the Italian. Juan Pedro López must be flying, he’s about to catch the Alpecin-Fenix rider with 10km of this 22.5km-long climb to go.

02:38 PM

13km to go

Stefano Oldani has gained a few more seconds, as it stands he is the virtual leader in his home race. Once again, Juan Pedro López has attacked and the Spaniard this time appears to have got away. The Trek-Segafredo rider has around six or seven bike lengths on Lennard Kämna, Mauri Vansevenant, Gijs Leemreize, Sylvain Moniquet and Rein Taaramae.

02:34 PM

14km to go

Panic over Simon Yates fans, he was just spotted riding off the wheel of fellow Lancastrian Hugh Carthy.

02:32 PM

15km to go

A slight wobble from Juan Pedro López at the rear of the six-man chasing group, while further back Jhonatan Narváez takes over on the front of the bunch on behalf of Ineos Grenadiers. No sign of Simon Yates in that group. Are Ineos Grenadiers landing the first of many little digs on the Briton?

02:28 PM

16km to go

Stefano Oldani, with his jersey unzipped, wolfs down an energy gel and I’m hearing his lead is dropping. The strong-looking chasing group is riding with a little more purpose. Nobody want to see Oldani get away off up the road, they will all want to contest this stage while the likes of Mauri Vansevenant may be hoping to do what his former Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team-mate Joao Almeida did here in 2020 and tak the pink jersey on Mount Etna. The Belgian, remember, started the day 43sec down on general classification and he currently leads the group of pre-race favourites by over 5min.

02:23 PM

18km to go

Mathieu van der Poel has pulled the parachute, the maglia rosa dropping back into the grupetto. Back at the front of the race, Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) and Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto-Soudal) have bridged across to join forces with Rein Taaramae and Juan Pedro López, the sextet trailling stage leader Stefano Oldani by 42sec.

02:17 PM

20km to go

There are a few issues with the graphics on the TV, but I can tell you that Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) has set off in pursuit of Stefano Oldani. Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and a Cofidis rider wasted little time in joining the Spaniard, but the trio have only managed to gain a handful of bike lengths.

02:15 PM

22km to go

The remianing 13 riders from the day’s breakaway – Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën), Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), Alexander Cataford (Israel-Premier Tech), Valerio Conti (Astana Qazaqstan), Erik Fetter (Eolo-Kometa), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma), Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto-Soudal), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Davide Villella (Cofidis) – are once again working together, trailling stage leader Stefano Oldani by 34sec.

02:11 PM

24km to go

Stefano Oldani takes the bonus seconds up for grabs at the second intermediate sprint in Biancavilla. The 24-year-old is, I’m hearing, leading this stage by around 40sec, but he has the entire 22.8km first-category ascent of Etna at 5.9% average gradient to follow.

Stefano Oldani  - GETTY IMAGESStefano Oldani  - GETTY IMAGES

Stefano Oldani – GETTY IMAGES

02:08 PM

27km to go

Some very rough and uneven looking roads as the riders weave through an old Sicilian town. These roads will make the peloton very nervous, not sure riding near the back of the bunch will be a very good idea – would not be surprised to see a few bidons go flying once the riders hit these bumps.

02:03 PM

28km to go

The first attack has come from the breakaway. Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) instigated the move, before Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix) counter-attacking. The Italian who has yet to win a professional race has gained a handful of seconds, while his move has created unease within the group of his former breakaway colleagues.

02:00 PM

29km to go

Four EF Education-EasyPost riders are sitting dead centre at the front of the peloton, which trails the breakaway by 6min 6sec. I’m assuming they will be working for Hugh Carthy today, but they also have Simon Carr up there, with the Briton who was brought up in France a very good climber.

01:58 PM

Guillaume gets lost in translation

Apparently, there was some confusion with the translation of Guillaume Martin‘s interview. He did, in fact, ride this side of Mount Etna many, many times.

01:56 PM

Ponomar down and, hopefully, not out

Ukrainian rider Andrii Ponomar (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), who is the youngest rider in the race, has crashed. The 19-year-old is wearing the Ukraine flag on his jersey as national champion, and I’ve heard his father is currently fighting in the Donbass region of his homeland which, as we all know, has been invaded by Russia. Ponomar looked to have bashed his knee and I think everybody will be praying he is able to continue.

Andrii Ponomar - EPAAndrii Ponomar - EPA

Andrii Ponomar – EPA

01:48 PM

35km to go

The breakaway is still working well together, as it has done throughout the stage, after passing through Paternò where Lilian Calmejane took the points on offer at the first of two intermediate sprint points in the stage. Big, big crowds are at the roadside and from hereon in, the road will go up, up, up . . . all the way to the summit finish on Mount Etna.

01:43 PM

40km to go . . .

. . . and the breakaway’s lead has dropped to below seven minutes for the first time in a few hours.

Slightly odd Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) interview has just been broadcast by GCN Race Pass / Eurosport in which the Frenchman said he had done a training block in Sicily recently, but didn’t bother riding up this side of Mount Etna. Must say, I find that very difficult to believe.

01:40 PM

Two wheels not always good

If you are unable to watch the race, which is available on Discovery+, then you will not have seen this unfortunate crash earlier when a race motorbike took out a few riders. Not a great day for Moto Man.

01:32 PM

44.5km to go

Some interesting shots of the peloton which is getting buffeted by some strong crosswinds. As a result, the bunch looks nervous and after some rotating on the front, the pace increases resulting in the gap between themselves and the breakaway dropping to 7min 3sec. Ineos Grenadiers, Bahrain Victorious, Trek-Segafredo, EF Education-EasyPost and Movistar are all near the front, but BikeExchange-Jayco are riding around half way down the peloton.

01:29 PM

47km to go

Some decent firepower in this 14-man breakaway group. Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën) would complete his grand tour set of he were to win today, while Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) is the only rider to have a Giro stage win on his palmarès. Other grand tour stage winners are Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Valerio Conti (Astana Qazaqstan). The rest of the group, though, are no slouches.

01:25 PM

50km to go . . .

. . . and the breakaway has increased its lead to 7min 43sec.

01:21 PM

One to watch . . .

Simon Yates and Mark Cavendish may have taken up most of the coverage from the British media thus far, but worth noting that grand tour debutant Ben Tulett, the 20-year-old from Sevenoks, has had great start to the Giro. The Ineos Grenadiers rider was fifth in Saturday’s time trial and started today’s stage sixth overall, 24sec off the lead of fellow cyclo-cross rider Mathieu van der Poel.

Ben Tulett - GETTY IMAGESBen Tulett - GETTY IMAGES

Ben Tulett – GETTY IMAGES

01:12 PM

60km to go

Mathieu van der Poel may lose lose his pink jersey later on this afternoon, and if he does one assumes he will also be putting his pink Canyon in the back of the mechanic’s truck.

Mathieu van der Poel - GETTY IMAGESMathieu van der Poel - GETTY IMAGES

Mathieu van der Poel – GETTY IMAGES

The breakaway leads by 7min 35sec.

01:05 PM

65km to go

Almost no change out on the road. The gap between the breakaway and the peloton is holding at 7min 30sec. Worth pointing out that there are two intermediate sprints in today’s stage. The first (at 136.5km) will be purely for the points classification, while the second one a few kilometres later (at 148.1km) has time bonuses up for grabs. Both are on the lower slopes of Mount Etna, though probably too far from the summit to cause too much of a shake-up.

12:57 PM

75km to go

No updates on Simon Yates following that earlier scare. Robbie McEwen has been speculating that he may have been sandbagging, suggesting the BikeExchange-Jayco rider may dropped down to the race doctor’s car purely for the benefit of the television cameras. Not too sure about that, but once again he was just spotted dropping back to a support vehicle. The biggest concern, or worry, is that he is dropping back with no team-mates. You would have though he would have one or two riders alongside him at every point in today’s stage. All that BikeExchange-Jayco have said so far is that they are “letting other teams lead the chase for now”.

12:48 PM

80km to go

The breakaway’s lead has dropped slightly to 7min 35sec, but other than than not an awful lot has happened for a while. Van der Poel just stopped for a comfort break. Here are some pictures of the lovely Sicilian countryside, and some bicycle racers.

Giro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGESGiro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGES

Giro d’Italia – GETTY IMAGES

Giro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGESGiro d'Italia - GETTY IMAGES

Giro d’Italia – GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES - GETTY IMAGESGETTY IMAGES - GETTY IMAGES

GETTY IMAGES – GETTY IMAGES

12:41 PM

85km to go

The stage leaders are going at a fair old lick right now as they descend towards a fairly flattish 40km section that will take them to the foot of Mount Etna. Ben Swift, the British national champion, has been riding on the front of the peloton as Ineos Grenadiers continue controlling the pace of the bunch. As it stands there is 7min 45sec separating the two.

Ben Swift rides on the front of the peloton - GETTY IMAGESBen Swift rides on the front of the peloton - GETTY IMAGES

Ben Swift rides on the front of the peloton – GETTY IMAGES

12:32 PM

92.5km to go

With just under 95km of the stage to go it is way too early to predict how this stage will play out, but it will be interesting to see how Mikel Landa goes on the climb. The Basque is one rider down after Jan Tratnik abandoned on Sunday, but like Miguel Ángel López who pulled out earlier today, he doesn’t have the best of luck and I’m sure lots of cycling fans will want to see him see well this year. Landa, along with Pello Bilbao, is one of Bahrain Victorious’ strongest riders and trails his team-mate by 15sec in the general classification going into this stage.

Mikel Landa - GETTY IMAGESMikel Landa - GETTY IMAGES

Mikel Landa – GETTY IMAGES

12:25 PM

100km to go

Richard Carapaz and Jhonatan Narváez, the Ineos Grenadiers team-mates and Ecuadorian compatriots, appeared relaxed at the start earlier this morning. Their team today are riding today as if they are leading the race, controlling the pace on the front of the peloton while also keeping their leader Carapaz out of harm’s way.

Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Jhonatan NarváezIneos Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Jhonatan Narváez

Ineos Grenadiers team-mates Richard Carapaz and Jhonatan Narváez

12:19 PM

105km to go

The breakaway has lost handful of seconds – its lead over the bunch has dropped to 8min 5sec – while Jasha Sütterlin (Bahrain Victorious) pulls the peloton along. Tucked in behind the German is the entire Ineos Grenadiers team, while not too far back Alejandro Valverde is riding alongside his Movistar team-mates.

Alejandro Valverde rides near the front alongside his Movistar team-mates - GETTY IMAGESAlejandro Valverde rides near the front alongside his Movistar team-mates - GETTY IMAGES

Alejandro Valverde rides near the front alongside his Movistar team-mates – GETTY IMAGES

12:10 PM

115km to go

Having completed the opening 50km of the stage, of which almost every metre has been uphill, it looks as if Mark Cavendish has managed to reconnect with the peloton. Admittedly, the sprinter is hanging near the rear of the bunch, but the good news for Cavendish fans is that he is not off the back. I suspect the grupetto will form later on this afternoon once they reach the final climb of the day, the brutal drag up the slopes on Mount Etna.

12:00 PM

As it stands . . .

It was a frenetic start to the day once the remaining 175 riders in the race – Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) is the only rider who started this edition of the Giro to have abandoned – crossed KM0 at 11.36am.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) and Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), the Ecuadorian who won the stage the last time the Giro finished atop Mount Etna, appeared lively with both attempting to make it into the day’s breakaway. Counter-attacked followed, though, with three or four small groups forming.

Weaving through arrow Sicilian roads with large paving stones and a few pinch points, number of riders crashed with some needing to drop back to the race doctor. Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) was spotted receiving some attention, as was Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) though I’m not entirely sure if either hit the deck. Yates may have knocked his right knee though as it was being sprayed and there appeared to be a slight red mark on the inside of his knee.

Simon Yates - GETTY IMAGESSimon Yates - GETTY IMAGES

Simon Yates – GETTY IMAGES

Simon Yates - GETTY IMAGESSimon Yates - GETTY IMAGES

Simon Yates – GETTY IMAGES

A few minutes after the crash reports started coming in that Colombian climber Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) had been spotted getting into his team car. Shortly afterwards, his team tweeted that had been suffering for the last few days with a hip injury. He doesn’t have the best of luck on Sicilian roads, as I’m sure you will recall he crashed during the opening time trial stage here in 2020 forcing him to abandon before even completing the stage one time trial from Monreale to Palermo.

Elsewhere, Mark Cavendish was spotted riding off the rear of the group once the road starting ramping upwards. The Briton who won the 16th Giro stage of his career on Sunday had Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl team-mate Michael Morkov for company. Cavendish, of course, will not be thinking about the stage win today, but he will need to complete the stage within the time limit if he wants to continue racing on Wednesday which may end up in a bunch gallop.

Michael Morkov and Mark Cavendish - GETTY IMAGESMichael Morkov and Mark Cavendish - GETTY IMAGES

Michael Morkov and Mark Cavendish – GETTY IMAGES

At the other end of the race, there is now a 14-man breakaway that leads the race by 8min 20sec. The full composition of the group is: Lilian Calmejane (Ag2r-Citroën), Diego Camargo (EF Education-EasyPost), Alexander Cataford (Israel-Premier Tech), Valerio Conti (Astana Qazaqstan), Erik Fetter (Eolo-Kometa), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma), Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo), Sylvain Moniquet (Lotto-Soudal), Stefano Oldani (Alpecin-Fenix), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Mauri Vansevenant (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) and Davide Villella (Cofidis).

Belgian rider Vansevenant is the highest placed rider on general classification at 43sec, while compatriot Moniquet is the furthest down starting the day in 140th spot, 5min 24sec off the pace of Mathieu van der Poel.

After letting the breakaway increase its lead to well over 10 minutes, Ineos Grenadiers and Bahrain Victorious shifted their riders towards the front to do some of the heavy lifting in an effort to close that gap. BikeExchange-Jayco, meanwhile, are sat towards the rear marshalling their leader Yates.

08:30 AM

What’s on today’s menu?

Today looks like an intriguing day of racing. Does Simon Yates, who starts the stage in second place 11 seconds off the lead of Mathieu van der Poel, want to take the pink jersey, or will the Briton be hoping a breakaway prevails and wrestles control of the maglia rosa?

I suspect he and his BikeExchange-Jayco team would want the latter, but depending on how the stage is raced, Yates may be forced into taking the maglia rosa off the broad shoulders of Van der Poel. If that’s the case, then his team will probably hope to lose it over the next few days.

Having worn the leader’s jersey for 13 days back in 2018 before losing it in dramatic fashion to Chris Froome on stage 19, Yates knows better than most that taking the lead in a grand tour too early adds a degree of stress that us mere mortals may find difficult to understand. Additional media duties and being the centre of attention where every move, comment or quip is analysed to within an inch of its life can be draining.

Based on the assumption that Van der Poel loses the maglia rosa today – I think that’s a safe assumption – then Yates would probably love it for a breakaway to clip off up the road and take the stage win, so don’t be surprised if you see somebody like Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa) or Alessandro de Marchi (Israel-Premier Tech) working hard in the early part of the stage in an effort to make a breakaway. However, should one of Yates’ many general classification rivals decide to attack on the final climb, either going for the stage or in an attempt to gain time on the Briton, then he will have to respond. He may not want to take the pink jersey, but he certainly will not want to lose any vital seconds so early in the race.

This will, hopefully, be a fascinating stage which in recent years has created plenty of drama, some of which British cycling fans may want to forget. It was on this stage where Geraint Thomas in 2020 came a cropper after a rogue bidon took the Welshman down in the neutral zone to end his hopes, while later that day Yates was dropped around eight kilometres from the summit, plummeting down to 25th overall. It is not all doom and gloom, however. Yates’ then team-mate Esteban Chaves won here in 2018 while the Briton took the first of his 13 pink jerseys here on a memorable day for his Australian squad.

And so, what does the stage look like?

stage fourstage four

stage four

Here’s what the roadbook says about the stage…

A stage through inland Sicily with a summit finish. The stage starts in Avola, passing Noto (the capital of Sicilian Baroque), Pantalica and Vizzini. In the approach to the volcano, the route undulates continuously, with no major climbs, though. Outside the urban areas, the road surface may be damaged at points. Inside the urban areas, the roads are usually narrow, with the common obstacles found in these settings.

View on the main square of the old city of Noto, Sicily - ISTOCKPHOTOView on the main square of the old city of Noto, Sicily - ISTOCKPHOTO

View on the main square of the old city of Noto, Sicily – ISTOCKPHOTO

The stage finishes by the Rifugio Sapienza, as it has already done before, but the closing ascent is original. The climb begins in Biancavilla and intersects the Strada Milia (as in the 2018 Giro). Past the astrophysical observatory, the route merges onto the road coming from Nicolosi, heading for a ‘traditional’ finale at the Rifugio Sapienza.

EtnaEtna

Etna

The last 3 km are on wide and well-paved road. The road winds its way along wide hairpins, mostly on lava fields. There is a mild counterslope with 500 metres to go, before the final U-turn (250m before the finish). Here, the road goes up again along the home stretch (200m, 3% uphill grade), leading to the finish line, on 7m wide asphalt road.

FinaleFinale

Finale

07:21 AM

Catch up: Highlights from Sunday’s stage

While today is very much one for the mountain goats, Sunday’s stage was all about another type of Goat. That’s right, it was that man Mark Cavendish (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) who some claim is the greatest (sprinter) of all time, who powered his way to a 16th career stage win at the Giro d’Italia, which was a 53rd grand tour stage win for the Manxman. Only Mario Cipollini (57) and Eddy Merckx (64) stand above Cavendish in the all-time standings. Watch here…

07:20 AM

Ciao!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage four at the Giro d’Italia, the 166-kilometre run from Avola to the top of Mount Etna.

Following yesterday’s rest day when the teams and riders familiarised themselves with their new surroundings after the long schlep down to Sicily, today will see the Giro contested on Italian roads for the first time after spending the opening three stages in Hungary. There will be one more stage on the island, the birthplace of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan), before it heads to the mainland where, other than a brief dip into neighbouring Slovenia, it remains until the race’s conclusion in Verona on May 29.

Today should be a barnstormer of a stage, but before we have a look at the course let’s have a quick recap and look at the early standings in the top classifications where jerseys are awarded to the leaders.

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), the Dutchman who won the opening stage, was second in the next day’s time trial and finished 17th on Sunday’s sprint, will wear the maglia rosa, or leader’s pink jersey, for the third day on what is his first appearance at the Giro.

Van der Poel also leads the points classification, but cannot wear two jerseys and so the maglia ciclamino, cyclamen jersey, will be worn by Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) of Eritrea who narrowly missed out on an historic win last Friday.

Rick Zabel (Israel-Premier Tech), yes the German sprinter and son of Erik, will be dressed in the maglia azzurra, or blue jersey, as leader in the mountains classification. Despite being on the same points tally as Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma), Zabel leads the competition as he was quickest up the climb in Sunday’s time trial.

Matteo Sobrero (BikeExchange-Jayco) will wear the maglia bianca, or the white jersey, as best young rider.

And finally, after getting into his second breakaway of the race alongside team-mate Filippo Tagliani, Mattia Bais (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) was voted as the most aggressive rider during stage three and so the Italian will wear a red bib number today.