Giro d’Italia Donne stage 4: Elisa Balsamo makes it two on debut

Trek-Segafredo star kicks past Kool, Vos, in final sprint.

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World champion Elisa Balsamo scored her second stage victory of the 2022 Giro d’Italia Donne in Reggio Emilia.

Despite a crash in the peloton at the flamme rouge, the Italian was able to outsprint Charlotte Kool and Marianne Vos to take another victory on debut at her home tour.

“We started the final kilometers really well,” Balsamo said at the finish. We knew I had to be first into the last corner, I tried to do my best and the team did a great job so I’m really happy. It was a hard sprint, but nice.”

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) dodged through the hazardous final unscathed to finish in the bunch and retain the GC lead.

After Monday’s general classification shuffle, stage 4 always looked like it would be a calmer affair. With little in terms of elevation or hazards, it appeared on paper as another stage for the sprint teams to have some more success.

The break of the day formed early on with Matilde Vitillo of BePink and Iris Monticolo of Top Girls Fassa Bortolo gapping the peloton first.

Shortly afterward Giorgia Bariani decided to join her Top Girls Fassa Bortolo teammate up the road and brought Hannah Barnes (Uno-X) and Anastasia Carbonari (Valcar) with her. Uno-X has had a quiet race so far, so seeing the Norwegian team in the break with their distinctive yellow and red jersey was a first in this year’s Giro.

The fivesome was deemed acceptable by the peloton and allowed to gain an advantage of around five minutes before the peloton began working in earnest to close the gap.

With around 50 kilometers to race, and the peloton behind on the classic 1 minute per 10 kilometers of racing ratio, Trek Segafedo and Team DSM rode on the front to bring down the gap.

With some assistance from the maglia rosa Van Vleuten, the peloton brought the gap down quickly. A heavily bandaged Riejanne Markus put in the bulk of work for Jumbo Visma on the front of the peloton, she was another rider to crash on yesterday’s stage.

With the gap down to close to a minute and with 18 kilometers to go, Giorgia Bariani (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) attacked the break and got a gap. That put the sprinter teams under pressure and as they upped the pace, they caught Bariani’s former breakaway companions with 8km to go. Bariani herself was swept up with 4km to go after her impressive attack helped delay the inevitable for a bit longer.

With the peloton split into two lines heading into the flame rouge, the sprint trains were desperate to keep at the front. The final sprint had the potential for trouble, with a tight left-hand corner coming just 150-200 meters from the line. Instead, it was going under the flamme rouge banner where there was a crash.

It appeared Blanka Vas (SD Worx) touched wheels with another rider and went sideways into the barriers. Emma Norsgaard of Movistar was just behind her on that side and was unable to avoid the incident. Norsgaard’s teammate Van Vleuten was in the vicinity but luckily was unaffected.

The majority of the sprinters had got through fine, with Balsamo first around the tight left-hand corner, almost shoulder to shoulder with Kool.

The sprint to the finish line was tight, with Kool briefly looking like she was ahead before the world champion took her second win of this year’s Giro. Vos found herself third and boxed behind Kool. Chiara Consonni of Valcar took her highest finish of this year’s race in fourth place.

Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) crossed the line well after the finish with an apparent injury. We wait for updates on her situation.

The general classification saw no moves today, so Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar remains in the maglia rosa going into stage 5 on Wednesday.

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