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Lizzy Banks (Equipe Paule Ka) continued to cement herself as a rider to watch as she took the victory on stage four of the Giro Rosa. Banks won the stage from a breakaway of two that spent half the stage on their own in front of the peloton.
Annemiek van Vleuten of Mitchelton-Scott finished third on the stage, allowing her to retain her pink jersey.
There were some interesting movements in the general classification. Canyon//SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma gained seven seconds on Anna van der Breggen, of Boels-Dolmans, moving into second overall. Elisa Longo Borghini of Trek-Segafredo also regained some of her lost time and jumped into sixth overall.
How it happened
Stage four’s 170-kilometer route was one of the major talking points of the 2020 Giro Rosa. According to UCI rule 2.6.008, the maximum distance per stage that can be raced in a women’s stage race is 160 kilometers. Riders from the peloton had varied reactions to the stage length, ranging from excitement to confusion to indifference. Some riders believed that the long stage would make for boring racing since the women’s peloton is not used to racing such distances.
The distance was one challenge of the stage. Usually the longer the stage in the Giro Rosa the flatter it is. In 2003 there was a 152-kilometer stage that was flat as a pancake. Similarly, in 2007 stage one ran 168-kilometers and was relatively flat. Stage four this year was a different story.
Starting off from Assisi, where stage three saw Marianne Vos take an impressive victory on the 15% slope final climb, the riders made their way to Tivoli, along the way climbing 2,200 meters.
The final ascent to the finish is not unlike stage three, with a little added fun: cobbles. A 750 meter tight and winding cobbled climb with up to 10% grades through the city of Tivoli greeted riders at the end of their 170 kilometers in the saddle.
Ruth Winder of Trek-Segafredo, and diary keeper for the Freewheeling podcast, was the first to attack 38-kilometers into the stage. She didn’t get much of a gap. She hovered around 30 seconds until 115km to go when she was caught.
Stage two’s second place, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who was fourth on the general classification at 2 minutes 38 seconds down, took the queen of the mountains Arrone, and the racing was back on.
After 84 kilometers, a break of two finally made it clear of the peloton. Banks of Equipe Paule Ka, who recently had a strong performance at the GP de Plouay and won stage eight of the 2019 Giro Rosa from a breakaway, and Eugenia Bujak of Alé BTC Ljubljana, the 2019 Slovenian National Champion, managed to separate themselves from the rest.
Banks and Bujak gained momentum and their gap increased, and although there were a few attempts by riders to bridge across, with 35km to go the two had almost six minutes on the peloton and looked unlikely to be caught.
On the cobbles of the finishing climb, it was Banks who took the win on stage four, Bujak came in second.
Behind, the peloton raced for third place, and it was the pink leader’s jersey and van Vleuten who led the peloton over the line, with a gap of 10 seconds. The top ten was stacked with familiar names, and time gaps between riders were mere seconds, due to the narrow steep finish.
Tuesday’s stage five could be the first bunch sprint we have seen in a while. The 110-kilometer stage has only one significant climb in the middle of the stage, with a pretty flat run-in to the finish. However. This is the Giro Rosa, and the riders could find out mid-stage that they are climbing a hors categorie to the finish. Gotta keep them on their toes.
1. Elizabeth Banks EPK, 4:27:21
2. Eugenia Bujak ALE, +0:07
3. Annemeik van Vleuten MTS, +1:10
4. Elisa Longo Borghini TSF, +1:22
5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma CSR, +1:25
6. Liane Lippert SUN, +1:27
7. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig FDJ, +1:31
8. Mavi García ALE, +1:36
9. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio CCC, +1:42
10. Marianne Vos CCC, st
1. Annemiek van Vleuten MTS
2. Katarzyna Niewiadoma CSR, +1:56
3. Anna van der Breggen DLT, +2:03
4. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig FDJ, +3:03
5. Mikayla Harvey EPK, +4:21
6. Elisa Longo Borghini TSF, +4:32
7. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio CCC, +4:34
8. Mavi García ALE, +4:38
9. Marianne Vos CCC, +5:29
10. Elise Chabbey EPK, +5:36