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Joe Dombrowski lands biggest race of his career on brutal day at Giro d’Italia


Joe Dombrowski – Joe Dombrowski lands biggest race of his career on a brutal day at Giro d’Italia – GETTY IMAGES

Dombrowski wins his first race outside of America.

De Marchi takes the overall lead after finishing second

Bernal, Carthy, Landa, and Vlasov, best of the rest

Evenepoel becomes Quick Step’s leading rider

Joe Dombrowski won stage four of the Giro d’Italia as Alessandro De Marchi took the pink jersey, but Simon Yates lost ground in the battle of the main favorites behind. Dombrowski took his first grand tour stage win as the UAE Team Emirates rider attacked out of the breakaway at the end of a 187km stage from Piacenza to the ski station in Sestola, which raced in wet, cold, and windy conditions.

But as the main peloton followed up the final climb, Yates was distanced by a small group, including Egan Bernal, Hugh Carthy, and Mikel Landa – conceding 11 seconds. “I’m thrilled with today,” Dombrowski said. “I knew De Marchi was probably the strongest rider in the break, so I knew if I stuck to his wheel, I would be in a good spot.”

Giro d'Italia

Dombrowski took victory by 13 seconds from Israel Start-up Nation’s De Marchi, who now has a 22-second advantage over the American in pink. “The goal was the maglia rosa,” De Marchi said. “I started thinking about it two days ago but didn’t tell anybody. “I knew this was a day when a good move could go… then it was about a bit of luck, and here we are – I’m without words.”

Bahrain Victorious’ Landa sparked the late attacks in the group of main favorites, quickly joined by Bernal, Carthy, and Aleksandr Vlasovto, who built a slight advantage over their rivals. EF Education-Nippo’s Carthy is now up to 10th, one minute 38 seconds off pink, one second ahead of the Ineos Grenadiers’ Bernal. BikeExchange’s Yates sits 16th, one minute 49 seconds down on De Marchi’s time.

03:28 pm

Bernal looking strong

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) looks strong and leads a small group of general classification contenders over the line. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) is there with Bernal, as are Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo). At the same time, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) is also tucked in with them. Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) led home the next group but lost 11sec to Bernal, as did Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation), and Romain Bardet (DSM).

03:21 pm

De Marchi goes into pink.

Alessandro De Marchi takes the pink jersey off compatriot Filippo Ganna, a massive day for a rider ordinarily associated with riding in the breakaways and an enormous day for Israel’s Start-up Nation, who lost Krists Neilands on the first day of the three-week race.

Alessandro De Marchi – GETTY IMAGES

De Marchi said he had been quietly planning this at the weekend. “I started thinking about taking the maglia rosa two days ago, but I didn’t tell anybody,” he said. “Today, it was about finding the right move. I knew it would be tricky at the start. A bit of luck helped, and here we are. I’m lost for words. The maglia rosa is the childhood dream of every cyclist, especially for an Italian.”

03:20 pm

Dombrowski wins stage four at the Giro!

Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) wins the biggest race of his career in the rain; the American can raise his arms in celebration after finishing ahead of Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation) and another Italian Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani CSF-Faizane), who was third on the stage.

03:18 pm

The general classification battle kicks off.

Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) has caught Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo). Meanwhile, Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) is the next to respond. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo) are in pursuit. Still, there is no sign of Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), or Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation).

03:16 pm

Landa attacks!

I guess it was inevitable that his team was riding on the front so hard, but Mikel Landa is feeling strong, and the Basque has attacked out of the peloton, but can he make any tough time gains?

03:15 pm

3km to go

Joe Dombrowski is the lone leader. The former Team Sky and EF Education rider has promised much throughout his career but never won a race outside America. This may be his big day.

03:12 pm

3.5km to go

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) has attacked the peloton and is pursuing the new stage leader, the American climber Joe Dombrowski. This stage has turned itself on its head, and it is fascinating.

03:11 pm

4km to go: De Marchi is the virtual leader!

Alessandro De Marchi has bridged over to Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen. The Italian has Joe Dombrowski for the company, which will be a devastating blow to the pair that have led this stage for a long time today.

03:09 pm

4.5km to go

Joao Almeida is dropped. The Portuguese who arrived as co-leader of Deceuninck-Quick Step alongside Remco Evenepoel are off the back, but he’s proven before he is a real fighter.

03:07 pm

5km to go

The chasing group, powered by Alessandro De Marchi, is closing in on Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen, whose advantage on that group is down to 25sec now.

03:05 pm

5.5km to go

The peloton is continuing to close that gap, now trailing 4min 20sec.

03:00 pm

7.5km to go

Very nervous time for anybody watching Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen descending on these wet roads. Every corner, every white painted line, every spot of oil on the road could do for their hopes. Juul-Jensen has just three wins on his palmarès, of which only one is at WorldTour level. In contrast, Taaramae has stage wins at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta an España but may become the first Estonian to wear the leader’s pink jersey in a little while. A massive day for both riders.

02:59 pm

9km to go

The leading pair are around 1km from the foot of the day’s final categorized climb, the category two Colle Passerino, another short one at just 4.3km, but as you can see from the above profile, undulates between quite steep and very steep.

Rein Taaramae leads Chris Juul-Jensen, but can the Estonian rider take the leader’s pink jersey? – GETTY IMAGES

02:55 pm

13km to go

Filippo Gana has, finally, been dropped by the peloton. Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen have gone over the uncategorized climbs and onto the descent that will kick into the day’s final categorized ascent that looks a little like this.


. . . and is followed by this finale to the line . . .


02:47 pm

17.5km to go

The Bahrain Victorious-powered peloton has reduced the gap on the stage leaders to below six minutes, but they have not managed to shell off any of Mikel Landa’s rivals which, presumably, is their plan here.

02:44 pm

19km to go

Rafael Valls is putting in some shifts on the front of the peloton. The advantage of the leading pair has dropped to 6min 20sec, and a few splits are starting to form. Especially in these conditions. It is still raining heavily, and the faces of several riders do not look too happy.


02:39 pm

20km to go

Matej Mohoric has team-mate Rafael Valls for the company on the front of the peloton now. The injection of pace by Bahrain Victorious has seen them reduce the advantage of Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen by over 40secs. Impressive.

02:36 pm

21km to go

Rein Taaramae and Chris Juul-Jensen are onto one of the uncategorized climbs, and the chasing group has made no inroad into their lead of just over a minute. The peloton has gained around 30sec, but in all reality, they are not chasing for the stage win but instead watching each other as all of the leading general classification contenders are In their group.

02:29 pm

25km to go

Matej Mohoric shunts himself to the front of the peloton but has no immediate Bahrain Victorious teammates for the company.

02:26 pm

27km to go

Deceuninck-Quick Step to the fore. Watching the team, whose bread and butter is usually the spring classics is extraordinary. Still, with Joao Almeida, Remco Evenepoel, James Knox, and Fausto Masnada on this team, they could do what they have never done before here at this year’s Giro d’Italia: win a grand tour.

Deceuninck-Quick Step – GETTY IMAGES

02:23 pm

30km to go

Andrea Vendrame is off in pursuit of the leading pair.

02:20 pm

31.5km to go

Alessandro De Marchi has been forced to stop with a mechanical issue. Luckily for the Italian breakaway specialist, the chasing group is not going too fast, so hopefully, he will get back on.

02:16 pm

34km to go: As it stands . . .

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) lead the stage, with the former being the overall virtual leader of the Giro d’Italia.

An 11-man group comprising Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa), Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), Nicolas Edet (Cofidis), Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa), Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation), Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious), Andrea Vendrame (Ag2R-Citroën) and Louis Vervaeke (Alpecin-Fenix) trail by 1min 7sec.

Remnants of breakaway around 40sec further back.

Peloton with all of the pre-race favorites for the general classification, but trail by 7min 55sec.

02:07 pm

42.5km to go

The peloton, which has Ineos Grenadiers and Deceuninck-Quick Step on the front, is over eight minutes down, but they will have their battle here today. A small group of three or four, including Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-up Nation), have caught Quinten Hermans and closed the gap slightly on the leading pair to just over a minute. Essentially there is a race for the stage win, a race to see who can take the pink jersey tonight, and then the long-term general classification battle between Ineos Grenadiers, Deceuninck-Quick Step, Astana-Premier Tech, BikeExchange, and so forth.

02:02 pm

44km to go: And then there were two . . .

Quinten Hermans has lost contact with the leading group as the road pitches to its steepest part. The BikeExchange rider is working on the front for the first time today, which will relieve Rein Taaramae, who may be riding into the maglia rosa. The peloton, by the way, is over eight minutes down on the pair.

01:55 pm

45km to go

The leading trio has increased their advantage over a 21-man chasing group, while the peloton is over eight minutes down on the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux boys who are, as it stands, on course to take the pink jersey off the shoulders of Filippo Ganna.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) – GETTY IMAGES

One rider who many, including yours indeed, had tipped for today’s stage and a possible new custodian of the maglia rosa, Remco Evenepoel, was just spotted riding in the main bunch sat on the wheel of Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate James Knox.

01:44 pm

50km to go

The road is inching up the lower slopes of the category two Montemolino. As you can see from its profile (below), despite only having an average gradient of 5.8%, the final 2km of the climb averages 11.6% and pitches up to an eye-watering 18%. That will hurt and, in these conditions, will be tricky.


Some like to stand while climbing, but at gradients like this, when it is wet – and today it is very moist – the most efficient and safest way to climb is to remain seated; otherwise, the rear wheel can slip. The power transfer needs to be pushed through the rear stays, down into the wheel, to stop the tire from falling.

01:38 pm

55km to go

Rein Taaramae and Quinten Hermans are riding hard in front of the three-person group; as it stands, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux pair are first and second in the virtual general classification. What a result would it be if they could take the leader’s pink jersey just 24 hours after team-mate Taco van der Hoorn won stage three? As a result of their efforts, Chris Juul-Jensen is getting pretty much a free ride here today. The Dane with the Irish accent will be hoping to land the stage, but there’s still a long way to go.

01:24 pm

63km to go

Many looked around at the leading group of riders that was the breakaway. Some want to press on to pursue the top trio, while others appear happy enough to miss their turn, breaking up any group rhythm.

01:21 pm

65km to go

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange), and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) have gained a lead of 35sec on the rest of the breakaway, the peloton over six minutes down on the trio.

Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)

01:18 PM

70km to go

Race leader Filippo Ganna, presumably expecting to lose his pink jersey today, was pulling hard on the front on behalf of his team leaders – Egan Bernal and Pavel Sivakov – and ditched his jacket sometime back. One suspects he wants to show that maglia rosa off for as long as possible, and who can blame the proud Italian?!

Filippo Ganna – GETTY IMAGES

01:12 pm

74km to go

Television pictures are back! Just in time to see Francesco Gavazzi (Eolo-Kometa) go over the Castello di Carpineti summit, the first of three categorized climbs. The road is still very wet, and rain is still falling, but it appears a little brighter – ever the optimist! Rein Taaramae (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Chris Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange), and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) followed to add a few points to their respective accounts in the mountains classification.

01:08 pm

74km to go

News has just come that Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani CSF-Faizane) have been dropped by the breakaway, which led by 5min 15sec.

01:04 pm

The current situation out on the road . . .

12:55 pm

Great Britons . . .

At the start of today’s blog, I mentioned that this stage might suit young British rider Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo).

Britain’s talent: Meet the next wave of British cyclists set to rule the roads.

Carr is one of four talented first-year neo-pros we wrote about in a recent feature on the next wave of Britons set to rule the roads.

12:45 pm

Welcome to The Bunnyhop

While we are waiting for the engineers out in Italy to get the pictures back on our screens, why don’t you have a look at The Bunnyhop, a brilliant new show that places women’s cycling firmly in the spotlight? In the latest episode, presenter Rebecca Charlton is joined by Jo Roswell, a two-time Olympic champion on the track, and journalist Sophie Hurcom, to discuss the Ardennes classics and Canyon-Sram rider Kasia Niewiadoma before throwing things forward a little as the riders prepare for a heavy block of stage racing.

There is also a feature with Sophie Wright, the talented young Ale-BTC Ljubljana rider. At the same time, Teniel Campbell, BikeExchange’s Trinidadian newcomer, focuses on the And Something About Me segment of the thoroughly entertaining show.

12:41 pm

No show at the Giro

Television pictures are now officially down 😞.

12:30 pm

97km to go

The weather is playing havoc with the televison pictures and the transponders on the riders’ bikes. As a result, the details from the intermediate sprint results have not come through. Still, I think Filippo Tagliani (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec) took the lion’s share – he was last spotted clipping off the front. In addition to the four main classifications – general, points, mountains, and youth – there are several other minor competitions at the Giro d’Italia, including the Traguardo Volanti and Premio Della Combattivita, or the TV prize and combativity prize. Points for these were also up for grabs at the intermediate sprint; hence riders from the smaller teams were keen on taking them.

12:10 pm

105km to go

As mentioned, it is a horrible day at the Giro d’Italia, where the entire peloton is covered in dark rain jackets. Television broadcasters struggle with pictures; it feels like watching a race from the early 2000s or 1990s. Quite difficult to spot who’s who right now, but thankfully the riders are some way out from where the critical action is expected to take place.


The breakaway is edging towards the first intermediate sprint, where points will be offered in the maglia calamine race. I wonder what the odds are for Louis Vervaeke to challenge for maximum effectiveness? Vervaeke’s Alpecin-Fenix team-mate Tim Merlier currently leads that competition, so the more points Louis can take, the safer the jersey will be. I assume a sprinter won’t win today, so Merlier should keep that jersey for another day.

12:00 pm

As it stands . . .

As forecast, this afternoon is another gloomy day out in northern Italy. It was 16°C at the start in Piacenza, and according to race organizers, RCS is forecast to be nine °C at the finish in Sestola. The 183-man peloton passed KM0 at 11.21 am (BST), and, like yesterday, all of the riders were wrapped up in their rain capes, while an awful lot of them had also opted for leg warmers and mitts.

Depending upon whose forecast you want to believe, the wind is either moderate (around 21km/h) or worryingly strong (50-70km/h), so that may feel an awful lot cooler in the medium mountains. At the same time, the wind could also play a massive role in how the stage plays out later this afternoon.

It was a hectic start to the stage with Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) clipping off the front. At the same time, numerous attacks followed behind the pair. It took some time, but eventually, four groups became one forming a huge 25-man breakaway.

Five teams – Ineos Grenadiers, Astana-Premier Tech, Bora-Hansgrohe, EF Education-Nippo, Lotto-Soudal, and Jumbo-Visma – are not represented in the breakaway. Movistar’s Oliveira is the highest-place rider on the general classification, starting today’s stage 32sec behind Filippo Ganna. In contrast, Italian riders Alessandro De Marchi and Valerio Conti are only one and two seconds later.

Although no riders in this group are being spoken of as potential winners of this year’s Giro, there are some extreme riders and, if they all work well together, have enough horsepower to deny the peloton while potentially taking the maglia rosa off the shoulders of Ganna.

Of course, some riders may have been instructed to get into the break to act as a satellite rider for their team-mates later on today – positioning themselves up the road where they can, possibly, disrupt the cohesion of the group while also putting themselves in the ideal place to help a team-mate or leader once they catch up.

Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

Ineos Grenadiers and Astana-Premier Tech have been working on the front of the peloton, keeping a close eye on the breakaway’s advantage, which is currently holding steady at 5min 44sec.

Samuele Battistella – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates – GETTY IMAGES

08:05 AM


Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage four at the Giro d’Italia, the 187-kilometer run from Piacenza to Sestola.

Although yesterday’s stage win for Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) was one of the season’s feel-good stories so far, there was very little to discuss regarding the overall race for the pink jersey. However, it was interesting to hear race leader Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) say that Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was impressive on the climbs.

“I hope the maglia rosa will stay with us, but if it goes to another team tomorrow, we’ll race more passively,” Ganna said on Monday. Today could be the day the Belgian tyro takes the lead off Ganna, but before we look at what lies in store for the riders, now is probably an opportune time to have a glance at the main classifications . . . “Remco Evenepoel has impressed me climbing on a big gear today; I don’t know where he found the energy to do that; hats off to him.”

Ganna remains the overall leader and will wear the maglia rosa, the pink jersey, for a third successive day and the fourth of his career.

Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) holds the maglia calamine, the cyclamen jersey, as the leader in the points classification. Vincenzo Albanese (Eolo-Kometa) will be in blue – the maglia Azzurra – as a leader in the mountains classification. At the same time, Tobias Foss wears the maglia Bianca, or the white jersey, even though he is second to Ganna in the youth classification. Ganna, of course, cannot wear two jerseys simultaneously, so the next person down in the standings takes care of it (well, makes sure the sponsors that pay the prize money get to see it photographed or broadcast on the telly).

And so, to today’s stage. After setting off from Piacenza at 11.20 am (BST), the peloton heads towards the city of Parma on a relatively straight and flat road before moving south in the direction of Sestola and, of more intrigue, into the Apennines – the mountain range that forms the spine of Italy – where almost every vertical meter of the 3,078m gained will be climbed on yet another backloaded stage.

Stage four map – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

As you can see from the below profile, almost every critical point of interest in the stage comes in the second half. There are two intermediate sprints – the first for points in the race for the maglia calamine, the second for time bonuses (three, two, and one double) – in the towns of Rossana (87.1km into the stage) and Fanano (180.6km). There are numerous climbs, but only three have been deemed worthy of classification, including the Giro.

Stage four profile – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

The first classified climb of the day, the Castello di Carpineti, is the third category and is just 3.5km long with an average gradient of 7.4km, though it follows two or three more minor and less steep climbs. Following a steep descent and a bit of respite from climbing, the road rises again towards the category two Montemolino, the longest of the day at 8.6km.

Montemolino – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

As you can see from its profile (above), despite only having an average gradient of 5.8%, the final 2km of the Montemolino averages 11.6% and pitches up to an eye-watering 18%. That will hurt and may provide any early attackers with the perfect launchpad. Still, if not, there are plenty more opportunities today on these roads that are as hard and gritty as a piece of vintage Parmigiano Reggiano from the locale.

Colle Passerino – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

The final categorized climb of the day, the category two Colle Passerino, is another short one at just 4.3km, but as you can see from the above profile, it undulates between quite steep and very steep. The first stretch of dark pink road reaching 16% could be the perfect place for those with the legs to launch themselves. A slightly shallower stretch of road following a second attack could follow around 1km from the summit. I am assuming, of course, that whoever feels like attacking is fearless in the descent because once over the top, here’s the finale to the stage.

Stage four finale – Giro d’Italia 2021, stage four – live race updates

So, who’s going to win today’s stage? Well, given that I am currently standing at the bottom of the Velogames league I set up – should I admit that? – I may not be the best person to predict the future. However, today will see the first shake-up in the general classification, and I would not be surprised if the Remco above Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick Step) were to test himself and his rivals.

Sure, you will know, but the 21-year-old Belgian is racing his first grand tour here at the Giro, and this is his first race since a terrible crash at last year’s Il Lombardia. I think that Evenepoel chased down a bonus second in the second intermediate sprint during stage two would suggest he is the leading man for Deceuninck-Quick Step and feels confident.

Of the other general classification contenders, Simon Yates (Bike Exchange), Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation), or Marc Soler (Movistar) may also fancy a crack, and all go well in the bad weather, which is forecast today. Of course, like yesterday, there’s always the chance of the winner coming from a breakaway, so you know what’s coming next, don’t you?

Yes, the first mention of Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) this year, who cunningly managed to lose 10min 30sec yesterday to ensure he is nowhere near the general classification contenders, which would allow him the freedom to roam. I wonder if this would be a stage suited to Simon Carr (EF Education-Nippo), the young Briton we mentioned in a recent feature on the rising British stars of cycling.

Interesting to note that yesterday, too, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) put in a bit of attack towards the end of the stage. The Italian climber who topped the mountains classification here two years ago after winning the Mortirolo stage in terrible conditions arrived anonymously. Still, I think he may just be thinking of doing something today. Anyway, that’s enough idle speculation. Live coverage starts at 1 pm. Ciao for now.