photo credits @ Giro d’Italia
Giro d’Italia saw a surprising outcome today, after Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) claimed a solo victory during the first serious summit finish in this year’s race atop the famed Mount Etna.
Polanc went on the attack with just two kilometers remaining, subsequently holding off a 179-rider strong peloton that tried to chase down the Slovenian rider in earnest.
Meanwhile, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) survived an early crash to finish in second place, while Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) rounded out the podium in third.
Bob Jungels (QuickStep Floors) finished well enough to seize control of the maglia rosa, while his teammate and former race leader, Fernando Gaviria, slipped down in the overall standings.
A small breakaway group containing Egenio Alafaci (Trek-Segafredo), Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Polanc, got underway at the outset of today’s stage in Cefalù.
From there, the group went on to quickly built up an advantage of more than eight minutes over the peloton.
However, after the second category climb of Portella, Alafaci lost contact with his breakaway companions, who’s lead at that point had dropped to around six minutes over the peloton.
Brutt was the next escapee to get dropped along a small climb before the start of Mount Etna, followed Janse van Rensburg – leaving Polanc to forge ahead alone.
Back in the peloton, a poorly-marked corner instigated a crash that saw a bunch of riders go down, with Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) and several Katusha-Alpecin riders amongst the casualties.
However, with 16 kilometers to go, a recovered Gaviria, alongside his teammate, Jungels, finally rode clear of the peloton in pursuit of Polanc.
Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) was the first to attack from the peloton, having said that he would in memory of team-mate Michele Scarponi. But, his move was relatively short-lived, while the main field proceeded to regroup in pursuit of Polanc.
Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) then made a move with 13 kilometers to go, quickly soloing away from the peloton.
At that point though, Polanc was still more than three minutes ahead, as the peloton failed to organize an effective chase effort.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) suffered a badly-timed puncture with 11 kilometers to go, with a team-mate assisting in the absence of the team car. The wheel change took a while and the Spanish rider was left with some distance to catch up. Philip Deignan dropped back to pace him back up to the bunch, but with valuable energy expended.
As Polanc hit the steeper part of the Etna, despite showing obvious signs of exhaustion, he was still maintaining a lead of more than two minutes over the chase.
Back in the peloton, Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) decided to move up to the front of the group and increase the chase effort, which also served to reel in Rolland.
After a few short-lived moves from Nibali, Jesper Hansen (Astana) and Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Zakarin was the next rider to launch an attack.
Heading into the final kilometer, Polanc was still clinging to a 45-second lead over the peloton, as the UAE rider was seen putting everything he had left to power his way through the final section of the climb in order to stay outside of the grasp of Zakarin and seize the victory.
Top 10 Finishers
1 Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 4:55:58
2 Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:19
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:29
4 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
5 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
6 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
8 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott
9 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
10 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
General classification after stage 4
1 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors 19:41:56
2 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky 0:00:06
3 Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-Scott 0:00:10
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb
8 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
9 Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ
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