It wasn’t as decisive a finale as I thought we might have had but the GC race has been blown open again after Thomas lost some time due to a mechanical in the closing kilometre.
Landa took the stage after attacking out of the GC group and bridging to some earlier attackers that included Majka, Aru and Hermans. The Movistar man then put in another stinging attack in the final few hundred metres as they were joined by Bennett who came out of the group behind. He rounded the final bend in first place and never looked back, taking what was a comfortable win. He is a joy to watch on the climbs!
Majka came home second to somewhat make up for his tumble the other day, with Bennett rounding out the podium.
Thomas’ mechanical means that Caruso retakes the lead, 1 second ahead of Kwiatkowski. With a fairly testing finishing parcours tomorrow, that could all well change come the end of stage 5. Let’s take a look at what is in store for them.
A stage that is dedicated to Scarponi, let’s just hope we see the action that it deserves.
I’m sure the riders will be thankful that the stage is only 178km after having a few long days in the saddle. We do have some climbs earlier in the day but it should all be about the final circuit.
The opening 8km of the circuit roll, with the road constantly going up and down which will sap the legs before the Wall of Filottrano.
The finish climb can be split into two separate climbs with a small descent in between. First of all is the Muro itself and it is what I would call punchy; averaging 11.8% for 800m. Well, that’s just the first part of it as it then continues to rise for another 700m or so at 7%. A sharp descent follows before the “easier” run up to the line with the final 1.5km averaging 5% but it does get steeper as the hoardings approach.
It is a finish that a lot of riders will fancy but it all depends on how aggressively it is raced earlier in the stage as to who will be in contention come the end of the day.
After being in complete control of the race, Sky will be somewhat disappointed with their new-found position but it is certainly not game over for them. In fact, I’m sure they’ll believe in Kwiatkowski’s chances of winning the race overall thanks to his better time trial compared to Caruso. However, will they want to take that risk? Kwiatkowski himself could attack tomorrow or we could see Thomas go on the move. Having the two high up on GC will be an advantage. Is that Sky’s way of doing things though?
Others will want to go on the attack as well and chase the stage win, especially those who are further down on GC and possess a terrible time trial.
Of course, we could see everyone in a stalemate and we get a control tempo and a fairly benign first two ascents of the finishing climbs which will result in a more traditional puncheur winning the day.
I think we’ll see Sky “ride in anger” tomorrow, setting a brutal tempo over the first few ascents of the climb that will greatly diminish the front group down to around 30 riders or so which means it will mostly be GC guys in contention for the stage.
It’s the young Belgian’s birthday tomorrow and it is a stage that certainly suits his characteristics very well. He performed exceptionally today, mixing it with much more traditional GC riders and climbers; a hint of what is to come in the future maybe? Explosive in nature and not afraid to attack, I would be very surprised if we didn’t see Benoot try something. Can he pull it off now? He’ll certainly be marked more than normal.
I don’t think the Welshman will take today very well and he will want to rectify that tomorrow. The finish to the stage is a little bit similar to the day he won in Tirreno last year. On the third day he wasn’t too far behind the winner Roglic and he managed to gap some of the other GC contenders. If he attacks it will be early and he’ll hope that his team will be able to mark everyone else out of it behind.
Sprightly on stage 3 I thought we might have seen him give it a go today but instead he was just content with following the wheels, or he was maybe on the limit. Another explosive rider, he has the advantage of being reasonably far down on GC so there is potential he gets some leeway. I’m sure he will want to repeat his brother’s success!
A lack of concentration on the foot slopes of the climb saw Roglic tangle with the back of another rider which ruined his chances for today. Consequently, he’s now way out of the picture GC wise which means he will be unmarked. Could he repeat his success of stage 3? I wouldn’t put it past him!
Another who lost time today because of Roglic’s mishap, the Luxembourg champion did well to almost get back into contact with the main group but he’d spent his energy reserves by then. For a bigger guy, he did well on stage 3 so this finish shouldn’t be too difficult for him. He’s a strong TT rider and if he gets a bit of a gap then he might be tough to bring back.
Before today’s action I had this down as a stage for the birthday boy but after today’s stage I think we’ll see some “revenge” from Sky.
Geraint Thomas to win and put himself back in with a chance of winning the GC title!
1pt EW Thomas @ 20/1
0.5pt EW Jungels @ 50/1
0.5pt EW Doulbe on Thomas and Fuglsang @ 270/1
2pts EW Fuglsang @ 12/1 (Paris Nice)
Thanks as always for reading! Who do you think will win tomorrow? Will we see another GC shake-up or will it be a more mundane day? Anyway,
Those were My Two Spokes Worth.