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Giro Stage 4: Ulissi's Epic Solo Marks Giro's Triumphant Return Home

Proper Ulissi photo now.
Proper Ulissi photo now.
Luk Benies

In the land of Scylla and Caribdes, the fatefully-named Diego Ulissi of Lampre left behind the battlefield of the peloton and completed a heroic solo journey to victory in a classical fourth stage of the Giro d'Italia in Penelope... I mean, Praia a Mare. Demonstrating why aggressive cycling is a must in the rugged terrain of the Mezzogiorno, Ulissi made a daring escape with 8km to go and just barely held on for a solo victory. Behind him Tom Dumoulin of Giant-Alpecin galloped away with countryman Steven Kruijswijk of LottoNL-Jumbo, nabbing the next two placings and, for Dumoulin, a return to the maglia rosa, as overnight leader Marcel Kittel was left behind with the rest of the sprinters. Dumoulin now leads Etixx-Quick Step's Bob Jungels by 20 seconds.

The real action on this undulating half of a coastal Calabrian stage began heading into Scalea, 30km from the group, when a chasing dozen riders, including Jungels, Tim Wellens, Stefano Pirazzi and Moreno Moser caught a pair of AG2Rs Bonnafond and Domont. The group quickly splintered and by the sprint point at 20km only Valerio Conti (Lampre) and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) were away with a small gap. That group grew to eleven, including Filippo Pozzato and Pirazzi, and Conti went to work for his captain Ulissi who had just arrived. With 13km to go Kittel was being distanced, and both the stage victory and the overall leadership were up for grabs. Movistar and Astana were pacing the peloton, but mostly just staying out of trouble and allowing the breakaway to do its thing. They had 35 seconds over the main favorites when the final climb, a 1km ascent at 7% with some steep ramps, began.

Pirazzi led the break up the climb, while Moreno Moser, dreaming of pink, tried to bridge into pink. Sometime during an extremely ill-advised commercial break by beIN Sports, Ulissi escaped the group, which was absorbed by the peloton, and and it was one man against the rest for the win. Pirazzi and Ryder Hesjedal led the chase back, among others, as the race left the narrow road of the climb and joined a wide, gently descending drag back to Praia a Mare. It looked pretty iffy for Ulissi as various riders accelerated, including Jungels and Astana's Jakob Fuglsang, but nobody took charge until Dumoulin and Kruijswijk made their move -- successfully with respect to the group and their respective GC ambitions, but too late to reel in Ulissi.

Stage Results:

  1. ULISSI Diego LAM, 20 years, 4h46'51"
  2. DUMOULIN Tom TGA 05"
  3. KRUIJSWIJK Steven TLJ 05"
  4. VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro MOV 06"
  5. BRAMBILLA Gianluca EQS 06"
  6. NIBALI Vincenzo AST 06"
  7. ZAKARIN Ilnur KAT 06"
  8. BUSATO Matteo STH 06"
  9. CHAVES RUBIO Jhoan Esteban OGE 06"
  10. ROCHE Nicolas SKY 06"

GC:

  1. Dumoulin
  2. Bob Jungels, EQS, at 0.20
  3. Ulissi, s.t.
  4. Kruijswijk, at 0.24
  5. Georg Preidler, TGA, s.t.

KOM Standings:

  1. Damiano Cunego, Nippo-Fantini, 7 points
  2. Nicola Boem, Bardiani, 7
  3. Maarten Tjallingii, LottoNL-Jumbo, 5

Points Competition:

  1. Marcel Kittel, EQS, 106 points
  2. Tjallingii, 80
  3. Elia Viviani, Sky, 53
  4. Ulissi, 50
  5. Dumoulin, 50