Richard Carapaz of Movistar has won Stage 4 of the Giro d'Italia on a day when a late crash saw big splits in the peloton which led to a number of riders with overall hopes losing time.
The crash left just a handful of riders in contention for the win, including overall leader Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma who will have made significant time on a number of his rivals today, with Tom Dumoulin shepherded through the final kilometres by his Sunweb team-mates, clearly in pain and blood streaming from a cut on his left leg.
The 2017 Giro d'Italia winner's teeam subsequently confirmed that x-rays revealed he had not broken any bones, although Dumoulin, who lost four minutes and does not know if he will start tomorrow, said "the GC for sure is gone."
Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott, second overall, was in a group of a dozen or so riders, including two-time Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida, that chased hard after the crash to limit their losses but ceded 16 seconds to the race leader and now lies 35 seconds behind Roglic.
The 235-kilometre stage from Orbetello featured the toughest finish of this year’s race, with a final 2.5 climb to the finish in Frascati, with the last kilometre having an average gradient of 4 per cent.
The stage had been set for an intriguing final in which it had been expected that some of the stronger sprinters would be in the mix with the GC hopefuls, but the crash 6.5 kilometres out that saw some riders thrown into a roadside ditch and split the peloton into smaller groups ensured a chaotic finish.
Carapaz - whose team leader, Mikel Landa, lost 42 seconds to Roglic today and is now 22nd overall with a deficit of 1 minute 49 seconds to the Slovenian - launched his bid for the stage victory early, and while Lotto-Belisol's Caleb Ewan set of in pursuit of the rider from Ecuador in the closing couple of hundred metres, he ran out of road and finished second, with Diego Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates third.
Three riders got away early on during the stage – Marco Frapporti of Androni-Sidermec, Mirco Maestri from Bardiani-CSF and Nippo-Fantini-Faizanè ‘s Damiano Cima, the trio also featuring inan eight-man break on Sunday’s Stage 2.
Their advantage, which at one point stood at more than 12 minutes, had been reduced to 90 seconds when, approaching the 20 kilometre to go banner, Frapporti launched an attack. While Maestri was able to follow him, Cima was dropped.
With the peloton riding strongly behind, however, the escapees had little chance of staying away and the front pair were caught with 10.5 kilometres remaining.
For the second day running, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s British rider James Knox was involved in a crash as several riders came down in the middle of the bunch with 12.5 kilometres still to ride.
Missing from the start this morning was the UAE Team Emirates rider Sebastian Molano, who has been provisionally suspended by his team after what it described as "unusual physiological results" were discovered following a routine health screening.
Stage winner Richard Carapaz
“The truth is it was a complicated end of a long stage with hills and the stress generated a crash.
"I found myself in a small group at the end. I didn’t bother about Primoz Roglic. I just looked for the right distance from the finish to fight for the win.
"I’m emotional and delighted that it worked out. Today’s result doesn’t change anything inside our team. There is a lot of mountain to come and Mikel Landa remains our leader.”
Race leader, Primoz Roglic
“We did a nice job again with the team. It’s good to gain some time but I don’t know if it’s because of the crash. We all want to stay safe.
"I didn’t see any crash so I guess I was at the front, fighting and trying to avoid any unnecessary mishaps. I try to concentrate on the bike for the whole stage. We all do mistakes. It’s bad if someone’s mistake makes someone else crash.”
2017 Giro d'Italia winner, Tom Dumoulin
“[Salvatore} Puccio from Ineos crashed, I think he touched a wheel or something and he took me and Izaguirre with him. I was in the front of the bunch and just couldn’t avoid it.
"There are no fractures which is good but my knee is very swollen. I wasn’t able to push any power in the last few kilometres so I don’t know how I will be tomorrow; the GC is for sure gone.”
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Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.