Giro d’Italia: Enrico Battaglin powers to a wet stage four victory
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Giro d’Italia: Enrico Battaglin powers to a wet stage four victory

by Ben Atkins at 11:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia, Race Reports and Results
Danilo Di Luca caught in the finishing straight as the late climbs split the pack again

enrico battaglin

Enrico Battaglin (Bardiani-CSF) sprinted to his biggest ever victory as he took the fourth stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, between Policastro Bussentino and Serra San Bruno, at the head of a much-depleted peloton. As had happened the previous day, two late climbs - along with the wet descents that followed - served to break up the bunch, with a late attack from Danilo Di Luca (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) and Robinson Chalapud (Colombia) only closed down in the finishing straight.

23-year-old Battaglin then burst from the pack, leaving the rest several lengths behind him as he crossed the line, with Fabio Felline (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) beating Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) in a close sprint for second place.

“I was good yesterday and I hoped to win, but in the end it felt more like a Moto GP than a bike race and I was dropped,” said Battaglin afterwards. “Today the climb suited me, the rain might have stopped some riders, and the gradient wasn’t too hard, and even though I attacked a bit early, it went well.

“In 2011, after I had won everything as an amateur, I started my pro career winning at the end of 2011 [he won the Coppa Sabatini - ed]. Perhaps I thought it was easier than it really is. I may have paid for that last year [when he took no wins]. This year, I was determined to show that I’m a good rider. I worked hard in the winter and I’m starting to reap the rewards.”

Although they both hail from Marostica, in the Veneto region, Battaglin is not related to his namesake, 1981 Giro winner Giovanni. Having joined the professional ranks at the same time as Moreno Moser (Cannondale) - who is the nephew of Francesco Moser - both are carrying famous names into the next generation of Italian cycling.

Naturally, there is some rivalry between the two young riders.

“So far in our professional careers, Moser has been stronger than me,” conceded Battaglin. “He demonstrated last year that he fears no one. But we know and respect each other, and this year I want to make up for lost time, and I’m on the right road now.”

Maglia Rosa Luca Paolini (Katusha) - the winner of the previous day’s stage - was comfortably tucked in the much-reduced peloton behind Battaglin and ended the day with his overall lead intact.

The 246km stage’s long break came from Julien Bérard (AG2R La Mondiale), Emanuele Sella (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Miguel Minguez and Ioannis Tamouridis (both Euskaltel-Euskadi), Johan Le Bon and Anthony Roux (both FDJ) and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM). The seven riders were allowed to escape in the early kilometres and managed to build a maximum lead of almost eight minutes before being gradually closed down.

With the Katusha team chasing Sella - who was just 2’39” behind Paolini in 48th place - Le Bon, Minguez, Ligthart and Bérard left the others behind with 100km to go. Team Sky took control of the peloton late on, however, and the breakaway riders were all caught before they could reach the top of the first climb.

There were then several attempted counterattacks, until Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) got away with Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Stefano Rabottini (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) escaped with 23km to go. Georges left the others behind as the final, 2nd category climb to the Croce Ferrata began, but he too was caught and dropped as Di Luca and Chalapud came past him with just under ten kilometres to go.

The two riders were just ten seconds clear as they rode over the top with just under seven, mostly downhill kilometres left, despite the wet-weather descending skills of Di Luca, they were gradually closed down and finally caught with just 300 metres to go.

Seven riders get away with a danger-man in their ranks

The seven-rider group escaped in the first kew kilometres of the stage, and opened up a gap of 7’55” at the 50km point. Katusha and RadioShack-Leopard cut the gap to 6’33” before allowing it to rise again, with it peaking at 7’20” after 70km. Just as Team Sky had done the previous day, Katusha allowed this gap to hover around the seven-minute mark for several kilometres before starting to reduce it into the second half of the stage.

With 100km to go it had been cut to 3’45” and, with some of those up ahead deciding that the presence of Sella was what was making Katusha chase so hard, Le Bon, Minguez and Ligthart jumped away from the other four. Immediately the gap to the peloton began to go up again but, before the three leaders could get too far ahead, Bérard fought his way up to them to make it up to a group of four.

Sella was now left with Tamouridis and Roux, each of whom had a teammate up the road, and so the three of them gradually drifted back towards the peloton.

Through the Traguardo Volante sprint, in Marinella di Sant’Eufemia with 80.9km to go - which was taken by an attack from Ligthart - the three dropped riders were 3’28” behind, while the gap to the peloton had been allowed to grow to 5’07”. Once again it was to remain largely static as several members of the peloton, including Paolini, used the opportunity afforded by the flat roads to visit their team cars.

Vini Fantini-Selle Italia then took over the chase - with Movistar and Team Sky also moving up - and the gap began to come down sharply; as the climb to the 3rd category Vibo Valentia began with 54km to go, it was just one minute.

Bérard was the first rider to make a move from the four-man group, but it was Minguez that managed to escape on the long, gentle climb. With 45km to go his lead was just 30 seconds, as the peloton picked up Bérard, Le Bon and Ligthart and - despite previous day’s breakaway rider Dirk Bellemakers (Lotto-Belisol) trying to bridge up to him - the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team swept up the last of the breakaways with 42km left.

The weather closes in and the attacks commence again

The fine weather that the peloton had enjoyed so far broke at this point, with light rain having fallen up most of the climb. The Summit with 39km to go was shrouded in cloud as Patrick Gretsch (Argos-Shimano) attacked towards the top; the German was chased and joined by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) just before he reached the banner, with the Italian taking the points.

The peloton was now nine seconds behind, as former mountains jersey Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) crossed in third place to take back the lead in the classification, and the two fugitives were soon picked up on the shallow descent.

There was drama for Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) as he punctured on the wet road, but the big race favourite was able to use his descending skills to regain the peloton having taken a new wheel from teammate Valerio Agnoli.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Duque (Colombia) attacked out of the front of the peloton and opened up a small gap on the drying roads. The Colombian was just a few seconds clear at the 30km banner, however, and was picked up soon afterwards.

The peloton was split into several groups, but began to reform as the main front group began to ease up a little. Gretsch attacked again, however, and was joined by Frederik Willems (Lotto-Belisol); with 26km to go the two riders were almost 30 seconds clear as Bardiani-CSF took over the front of the peloton; with just under 23km to go they were caught, only for Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) to counterattack.

Marcato was chased and joined by Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), with Sylvain Georges (AG2R La Mondiale), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Stefano Rabottini (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) quickly making it across. Marcato attacked for the Traguardo Volante points in Soriano Calabro with 18.3km to go, with Katusha leading the peloton over the line 20 seconds behind the group.

Sylvain Georges attacks but Danilo Di Luca counters

Georges attacked just as the climb to the Croce Ferrata began and left the rest behind. Katusha was setting a steady tempo in the peloton behind the break, but not so fast as to put Paolini into difficulty. This meant that Georges was steadily opening up his lead, which was up to 1’12” with 15km to go.

Team Sky took over at the head of the peloton, however, and began to lift the pace, which cut Georges’ lead to 30 seconds in the next kilometre. With Marcato having surrendered some time before Quintero, Rabottini and Pirazzi were soon swept up, leaving just the lone Frenchman up front.

The weather began to close in again as Georges maintained his climbing duel with Team Sky’s Kanstantsin Siutsou; with ten kilometres to go though Di Luca and Chalapud attacked across to the Frenchman and soon left him behind.

Team Sky was still setting the pace, with Bardiani-CSF lending a hand and, as Chalapud led over the top with 6.7km to go, the duo was almost in sight of the peloton. Di Luca tried to escape, but the Colombian quickly chased him down on the wide, straight road; the two riders were no just nine seconds clear at the five kilometre banner, but the peloton was stretched out in a line behind them.

With three kilometres to go the gap was down to just seven seconds, with Di Luca doing all the work on the front as Chalapud was doing all he could to keep up with the superior descender. A small rise with 1.7km to go saw the Colombian rider come through, however, but the drop in speed allowed the peloton - led by AG2R La Mondiale - to close the gap further.

Di Luca opened up his sprint as he passed under the flamme rouge, but the Katusha team was right on his shoulder and caught him with 300 metres to go. Battaglin then powered past the veteran rider and held his sprint all the way to the line to win by several lengths.

Paolini finished in tenth place, with his Maglia Rosa intact, with defending champion Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), and overall contenders Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), Robert Gesink (Blanco) and Nibali all in the same group. Second overall Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) had been caught behind a crash, however, and lost 17 seconds, despite the incident reportedly happening inside the final three kilometres.

Result stage 4
1. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
2. Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela
3. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
4. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky
5. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
7. Beñat Intxuasti (Spa) Movistar Team
8. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp
9. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard
10. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team

Standings after stage 4
1. Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team
2. Rigoberto Urán (Col) Team Sky @ 17s
3. Beñat Intxuasti (Spa) Movistar Team @ 26s
4. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Team Astana @ 31s
5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp @ 34s
6. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky
7. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team @ 36s
8. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky @ 37s
9. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia @ 39s
10. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team @ 42s


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