Stage 4 was definied by an attack by Veronica Ewers of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, which was chased down by the race leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek) on the final climb of the day. The three rode to the finish together but it was Longo Borghini who took the victory, her second-ever stage win at her home ‘Grand Tour’, with Ewers sprinting to second and Van Vleuten rounding out the podium.
Van Vleuten held onto her general classification lead, but Longo Borghini and Ewers rose in the overall with Longo Borghini going into the fifth stage in second and Ewers third.
How it happened
- Most of the day’s breakaway was reeled back in on Passo Montevacà, the second of three categorized climbs. Only Ilse Pluimers of AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step was able to outlast her breakaway mates but an attack from the peloton proved it would not be Pluimers day.
- Ewers attacked on the slopes of the second climb and blew past Pluimers before the climb crested with 27 km to go. Ewers set out in search of victory alone on the descent to the final climb, with the American briefly holding the virtual lead.
- On the descent, Silvia Persico tried her hand, but the Italian was chased down by the likes of Marta Cavalli, Van Vleuten, and Blanka Vas.
- With 17 km to go Movistar took to the front and set a pace to bring Ewers back into the peloton but the attempt was short-lived and soon Van Vleuten took over the chase herself. Longo Borghini was the only rider able to follow the pink jersey on the final climb.
- With Van Vleuten in full attack mode, the gap to Ewers plummeted, and the two caught the EF Education-TICO-SVB rider with 2 km to go to the top of the final climb.
- Longo Borghini attacked near the top of the final climb and again on the descent but was unable to distance Van Vleuten and Ewers.
- In the group behind, SD Worx took up the chase for their sprinter Lorena Wiebes, but the gap held and the lead trio stayed clear to contest the win, with the bunch settling for a sprint for fourth.
- Van Vleuten led the three towards the finish line and it was Longo Borghini that started the sprint, behind her Ewers was able to just pass Van Vleuten for second.
Brief stage results
- Elisa Longo Borghini (Lidl-Trek)
- Veronica Ewers (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) “
- Annemiek Van Vleuten (Movistar) “
- Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx) +40
- Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) “
- Annemiek van Vleuten
- Elisa Longo Borghini +49
- Veronica Ewers +53
- Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-Suez) +1:33
- Juliette Labous (DSM-Firmenich) +1:35
Notes and analysis
- Race leader Van Vleuten briefly hit the ground during the stage, but popped back up and got herself back into the peloton without much fuss.
- Although she finished just off the podium, it was an amazing ride for the European champion Wiebes on stage 4’s hilly terrain.
- Ewers’ attack was largely unmarked by the peloton, with the riders sitting up across the road when the American went off the front. It will probably be the last time Ewers is able to slip away from the front of a race …
- It was a tough day for FDJ-Suez who started the stage with three riders within a minute of the overall lead, including Uttrup Ludwig in second only 49 seconds down. The French team ended up slipping in the standings with no one able to follow Van Vleuten’s move.
- Despite being one of the top riders in the world for at least eight years, Longo Borghini only took her first Giro stage win in 2020 when she beat Anna van der Breggen to the line on stage 8.
What’s on tap for stage 5
The fifth stage of the Giro Donne is an interesting one. In days past it may have been one for the breakaway, and with Van Vleuten firmly in the pink jersey already, maybe it won’t be a day packed with fireworks, but it’s a hard stage to predict.
Had the world champion not taken the lead on stage 2 it would have been a course with Van Vleuten’s name all over it. The long Category 1 climb of Passo del Lupo (10.1km at 8.4%) – this year’s highest point, or ‘Cima Coppi’ – is a climb that, had it been anywhere else on the stage, would have rocked the peloton. Weirdly, the organizers have put it at the very start of the stage, less than 20 km in, so for a rider or group to go clear on the slopes and hold a gap all the way to the finish in Ceres would be a hard task for almost anyone but Van Vleuten (she does those long-range attacks quite well, you know).
That being said it’s a short stage at only 105.7 km, so should a group go on that first ascent they only have to hold it for 61.3 km – they should easily maintain whatever gap they have at the top of the climb until the base of the descent.
After the Cima Coppi, it’s a simple matter of cresting the two Category 3 climbs that crop up in the final 33 km of the stage, the last averaging 6.6% and topping out less than 10km from the finish. If GC contenders have the breakaway in hand by that point, there could be some interesting moves on that final climb *cough* Elisa Longo Borghini *cough*.
Quote of the day
Longo Borghini had a little fun in the post-race interview and was clearly very pleased to take the first win for the Lidl-Trek team under their new name.
“I feel a Lidl emotional.”Elisa Longo Borghini
When asked what she had planned for the following day, Longo Borghini was clear she would be busy. “I should ride a stage of the Giro d’Italia tomorrow, ya,” Longo Borghini said.
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