Chaves shows good form on stage four of the Giro d’Italia

Tue 10 May 2016

Colombian Esteban Chaves of ORICA-GreenEDGE made the final selection on stage four of the Giro d’Italia today to finish amongst the other race favourites as attacks began to fly on the final climbs of the day.

General classification hope Chaves was part of the ultimate attacks on the the first stage in Italy that was also the first to include categorised climbs in this year’s race. With the last 30kilometres of the stage peppered with short sharp hills, the contenders for the overall classification began to flex their muscles as the sprinters fell out of the back of the peloton.

Chaves finished ninth on the stage and moves into tenth position overall on the provisional general classification going into tomorrow's stage five.

Sport director Matt White was pleased with how the team performed and the good condition of the squad.

“Super happy with the team performance today,” said White. “Esteban (Chaves) showed the kind of form and condition he is in by making that important group that formed the final selection towards the end of the stage."

“The top ten is already taking shape with the favourites starting to get up there. It’s normal that everyone marks everyone else closely and nobody wants to let anything go or leave any chances so it’s really good to see Esteban up there at the front.

“We looked at the parcours beforehand and knew that it wouldn’t suit the sprinters,” explained White. “The climbs were difficult and close to the finish, although Luka (Mezgec) did a great job and made it into the second group of chasers who nearly caught the leaders on the line.”

“Tomorrow’s stage includes around 3,000m elevation on the climbs but with the last one coming 40kilometres from the finish it could prove to be an interesting day.”

How it happened:

The first stage of the 2016 Giro d’Italia to take place on Italian soil was welcomed by huge crowds in the southern Italian town of Catanzaro which is part of the historic region of Calabria.

The 200kilometre parcours consisted mainly of flat and rolling roads until the final third where a few sharp climbs and technical descents appeared before a run into the seaside finish in Praia a Mare.

A four-rider breakaway which included Joey Rosskopf (BMC) and Matthias Brandle (IAM-Cycling) escaped within the first ten kilometres and developed an early lead of three minutes on the peloton. The field covered over 50kilometres in a fast first hour of racing with the quartet of leaders drifting between one and two minutes ahead of the peloton.

The four leaders were beginning to work well together as the race headed up the Calabrian coast. Etixx-Quickstep were present in numbers on the front of the peloton surrounding race leader Marcel Kittel and going into the 80th kilometre the breakaway had four minutes on the bunch.

With 80kilometres left to race the four leaders hit the first classified climb of the 2016 race at Bonifati. Six and half kilometres in length, with varying gradients, the gap back to the peloton was now a steady three minutes.

Over the top of Bonifati and descending towards the second climb of the day at San Pietro the lead quartet extended their advantage by another minute over the bunch.

The rest of the course now consisted of short climbs but with the gradient in places topping out at 18% and the very sharp Via del Fortino coming only ten kilometres from the finish the race was still on.

The field briefly came back together on the San Pietro climb as the four members of the early breakaway were caught before fresh attacks began to form.

Riders were dropping out of the back of the peloton as the gradients and the speed both increased going into the last 50kilometres of the stage. Race leader Kittel was one of the riders dropped along with some of the other sprinters and they settled into a second bunch on the road, one and half minutes behind the advanced peloton.

The Astana team of Vincenzo Nibali were now pushing the pace at the front of the field however the sprinters had made it back to the front group after work by Etixx-Quickstep with under 40kilometres to go.

Two riders form AG2R La-Mondiale, including Axel Domont, attacked off the front and immediately gained a slim advantage, the move was followed a small group of riders that contained Amets Txurruka for ORICA-GreenEDGE.

The peloton was now stretched from head to tail for more than 200metres along the road as the attacks and the climbs began to take their toll.

A new group of seven riders formed from the Domont attack and gained around 20seconds advantage. Movistar were now on the front of the chasing field with Astana tucked in just behind and riders again being dropped out the back with 15kilomteres left to race.

The steep Via del Fortino climb and the technical descent that followed was always set to be a key point in the race and the field duly split apart again. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) attacked from the lead goup as a selection formed behind including Chaves for ORICA-GreenEDGE, Nibali and many of the other race favourites.

Ulissi maintained his slim advantage on the descent before holding off the chasing Chaves group to take the stage victory by a few metres. Those behind finished together with Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) retaking the race leader's pink jersey from Kittel.

Stage five takes place tomorrow covering 233kilometres from Praia a Mare to Benevento. The stage is a hilly one with most of the climbs coming in the first three quarters of the race. The finish is in the centre of Benevento and undulates through the winding streets before a slight incline in the last few hundred metres to the line.

Giro d’Italia stage four results:

1. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 04:46:51
2. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 00:00:05
3. Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) ST
9. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:06

General classification after stage four:

1. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) 14:00:09
2. Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quickstep) 00:00:20
3. Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) 00:00:20
10. Esteban Chaves (ORICA-GreenEDGE) 00:00:37