Arnaud Démare takes the stage by the narrowest of margins
The thrilling fight for the stage came down to an insanely narrow margin, as Arnaud Démare crept past Peter Sagan right at the line to take another huge win.
Démare is often overlooked among the top-tier of sprinters as he spends much of his season racing lower-tier events, but the Frenchman never fails to deliver on the biggest stages when given the chance.
The Groupama-FDJ sprinter now has two Giro d’Italia stages to his name after his winning his first last season, and with 11 victories to his name this season Démare could emerge as the dominant sprinter of this year’s Italian Grand Tour.
Peter Sagan has found his fire once again
We’re seeing a reinvigorated Peter Sagan at the Giro d’Italia so far.
After coming away from the Tour de France without a stage victory and without his green jersey, Sagan admitted something was missing from his performance in France.
But the Bora-Hansgrohe rider appears to have found his fire once again on his Giro d’Italia debut, perhaps inspired by the lack of a Giro stage win on his palmarès.
After putting in a huge ride to finish second on the stage two uphill finish in Agrigento, Sagan put on his sprinting hat on stage four to take on some of the fastest riders in the peloton.
Bora-Hansgrohe were the dominant team as they set the pace on the climb to distance Gaviria and they then steered Sagan into perfect position in the final straight.
Sagan reacted at light-speed when Démare launched his sprint and the former triple world champion blasted past his rivals to hit the front.
It wasn’t to be for Sagan, who missed out by the less than the depth of his tyre on the stage, but with two second places finishes already in this Giro it’s only a matter of time for the superstar rider.
Gaviria and UAE Team Emirates fight hard but miss out
There was one speedbump between the sprinters and the finish, and it was a big one.
In order to fight for the stage victory, the fast ment would have to get over the 12km-long Portella Mandrazzi climb and stay in contact with the front of the race.
Unsurprisingly, the climb proved too tough for some of the sprinters, with Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Elia Viviani (Cofidis) the most notable riders to struggle.
But UAE were well prepared for their rider to be dropped, as they sent domestiques back to help Gaviria chase back on with 70km of the stage still remaining.
While Cofidis were able to pace Viviani back on, Gaviria never made contact with the front of the race again despite a heroic effort.
The result of the climb jutting out the middle of the stage profile was an exciting and unpredictable sprint stage.
Elia Viviani still of the pace in hectic sprint
Elia Viviani’s new life at Cofidis has got off to a slow and things didn’t improve on stage four of the Giro.
His first chance at a stage victory looked to be going well as he was able to rejoin the front of the race after being dropped on the day’s major climb and finding himself in good position on the final straight.
But Viviani finished in his now regular spot, a row behind the victors in fifth place.
This Italian hasn’t won a race since leaving Deceuninck – Quick-Step for Cofidis at the end of last season while his best result in the Tour de France was fourth on stage 10.
Viviani was once the most prolific sprinter in the world, but it looks like he’s going to need something special to deliver a big result for his team in his home Grand Tour.
Another day to forget for Ineos Grenadiers
This year has not been the one for Ineos Grenadiers.
After missing out on the Tour de France with Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas in the Giro looked to be the team’s best hope of Grand Tour victory.
But Thomas crashed after hitting a stray bidon on stage three and he abandoned the race ahead of stage four after scans revealed a fractured pelvis.
Starting the day without their leader, things didn’t improve for Ineos when British champion Ben Swift was also caught in a crash early in the day.
Swift looked uncomfortable for much of the day after his fall and eventually finished the stage 11 minutes down on the winner, when he would have been hoping for a top-10 in the sprint.
Things can only improve for Ineos in this race.