A tough race on the Tirreno-Adriatico queen stage saw the riders tackling close to 4500 meters of climbing with Damiano Caruso, who started the day in fourth place on the General Classification, just eight seconds back, reclaiming the blue leader’s jersey following a dramatic showdown on the slopes of the final climb.
The attacks began almost as soon as the flag dropped today with six riders going clear and opening up an advantage of 3’40” after less than 20km, of the 219km course.
The peloton was happy to allow the gap to extend out to over six minutes, but the pace began to pick up approaching the summit of the first of four categorized climbs with a little over 80km remaining.
As the foot of the final 13.2km long climb to Sarnano-Sassotetto drew closer, the bunch continued to chip away at the lead of the breakaway, however, with 20km to go, the gap was still sitting at over three minutes and so, the chase intensified.
The peloton was trailing the leaders by 1’30” when the road began to rise for the final time but, with the gradient starting to take its toll at the front of the race, a reduced bunch of around 25 riders, including Caruso, made the catch with just 7km to go.
The attacks began just a couple of kilometers later, with four riders eventually forging on ahead while Caruso continued to work hard as part of a select chase group that was never more than 20 seconds behind.
Heading towards the flamme rouge, the attacks once again began to fly off the front of the chase group and Caruso, who had looked strong all the way up the climb, was quick to follow.
Meanwhile, race leader at the start of stage 4, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), was being distanced by Caruso and the rest of the General Classification contenders after a mechanical issue.
In the end, Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) made his ultimately winning move in the closing meters of the day and was able to narrowly hold off the rest of the field to take the honors.
Behind, Caruso continued to push hard, taking advantage of the race situation, to finish inside the top fifteen and retake control of the General Classification going into stage 5 tomorrow, just one second ahead of his nearest rival.
Quotes From the Finish Line
Race leader, Damiano Caruso:
“I didn’t really expect to be back in the leader’s jersey at the end of today but, I did feel good on the last climb so I thought that I would able to do a really good race. In the end, it was good because I took the jersey and that is a big result for me at the end of this stage. Tomorrow we have another hard stage, and we will see what happens.”
“With the race going up the Muro di Filottrano three times tomorrow, it will be a really hard stage. I want to try to take opportunities with me and Greg Van Avermaet, and hopefully, the team can put me in a good position. For the moment though, I want to enjoy today, and this jersey and we will just have to see what happens tomorrow.”
Sports Director, Maximilian Sciandri:
“We have been building up day by day with Damiano Caruso, and as we saw with Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) today, anything can happen. But for us, everything is unfolding well and Damiano is in a good position. Tomorrow we will be on the defensive and with Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) just one second behind, it’s a bit dangerous. So, we will see what happens tomorrow.”
“Last year at the Tour de Suisse, I think Damiano did an incredible job. He is constantly maturing as a rider, and I have definitely pushed him a little bit here, but he has really taken it in the best of ways.”