On the day it rained forever there was more than a little sunshine for the man who had not won on European soil since his distant triumph in the U23 Giro d’Italia in 2012. The American Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) proved the strongest and canniest of a large 25-man breakaway to secure the biggest win of his career after a gruelling and wet schlep into the Apennines.
Italy’s Alessandro De Marchi missed out on a maiden Giro stage win but his second place was enough to give the 34-year-old Israel Start-Up Nation rider the first pink jersey of his career. De Marchi now leads Dombrowski – the new blue jersey after pocketing 18 king of the mountain points – by 22 seconds on an all-change general classification after a day the race was turned on its head.
The biggest GC casualty was the Portuguese tyro Joao Almeida, who could not replicate the form that saw him spend two weeks in the maglia rosa six months ago. Almeida was distanced on the last of three categorised climbs to finish over four minutes behind his rivals.
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Almeida’s Deceuninck Quick-Step co-leader Remco Evenepoel also lost 11 seconds to some of his opponents after Colombia’s Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) responded to a big acceleration from Spain’s Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) to lead a select chasing group over the line in eleventh place, 1’37” down on the winner Dombrowski.

Landa attacks to ‘start party’ for GC favourites

After a hectic opening hour of riding through heavy rain in the flat plains between Piacenza and Parma, the day’s large breakaway formed after three different groups came together, with the move establishing a maximum lead of eight minutes on the peloton. It was enough to put Portugal's Nelson Oliviera (Movistar) in the virtual race lead - although there were no shortage of candidates for pink.
A hilly second half of the challenging stage brought about a major shake up as the Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert team of Monday’s surprise winner Taco van der Hoorn looked to strike gold twice in succession. Quinten Hermans rode clear on a descent with teammate Rein Taaramae with the Intermarche duo joined by Chris Juul-Jensen of Team Bike Exchange with 65km to go.
The Belgian Hermans buried himself for Estonia's Taaramae, a stage winner from the 2016 Giro who took over the reins for Filippo Ganna's pink jersey. Taaramae and Denmark’s Juul-Jensen had just over a minute to play with when they hit the foot of the final climb with 6km remaining – only to be swept up once De Marchi and Dombrowski bridged over with relative ease from a group of 13 chasers.
Dombrowski then pulled the trigger on the Cat.2 Colle Passerino as De Marchi kept his cool in pursuit of his pink dream, seemingly content to settle for second place while ensuring he would take over the maglia rosa from compatriot Ganna, winner of the race's opening time trial in Turin.
Ganna put in a huge shift for Ineos Grenadiers on the front of the peloton, powering through the rain and pacing the pack up the Cat.3 Castello di Carpineti climb before fading on the second third-category climb of Montemolino.

Dombrowski: ‘I was trying not to do too much work!’

The Deceuninck Quick-Step team of Almeida and Evenepoel took up the slack inside the final 30km with the streamlined peloton still trailing the leaders by over five minutes. But the gap only started to tumble once Landa’s Bahrain-Victorious squad upped the tempo through Rafal Valls and Matej Mohoric on a punchy uncategorised climb ahead of the finale.
Almeida was already off the back when Landa threw down the hammer on the final climb following a move from Nibali’s Trek-Segafredo teammate Giulio Ciccone – the last winner in Sestola when the Giro came to town in 2016.
But Bernal did not give his former teammate Landa any leeway, the 2019 Tour de France winner kicking clear alongside Russia’s Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) and Britain’s Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo). They caught Landa and then Ciccone near the top of the climb with a couple of kilometres to go to the finish.
Dombrowski, another former Team Sky rider and amateur prodigy, kept his cool on the fast run into Sestola to take the fourth – and by far the biggest – win of his career. The 29-year-old American came home 13 seconds clear of De Marchi, with Italy’s Filippo Fiorelli (Bardiani-CSF) taking third.

'There’s no coming back' - Giro already over for GC contender Almeida

The remaining survivors of the breakaway – including Taaramae and Juul-Jensen – filled out the rest of the top 10 before Bernal led home the select chasing quintet ahead of Ciccone, Vlasov, Landa and Carthy. Evenepoel crossed the line 11 seconds back in a group that included Britain’s Simon Yates (Team Bike Exchange) and Ireland’s Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation).
Nibali, the 2013 and 2016 winner, was a further 23 seconds off the pace alongside Ineos co-leader Pavel Sivakov and last year’s runner-up, the Australian Jai Hindley (Team DSM). New Zealand’s George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) lost over a minute while Almeida was almost four minutes down on his teammate Evenepoel, his implosion all but settling the debate over who will lead this Deceuninck Quick-Step team going forward.
Vlasov is now the best placed of the GC favourites, the rangy Russian trailing De Marchi by 1’24” in seventh. Despite losing time to Bernal and Landa, Belgian Grand Tour debutant Evenepoel is in eighth place at 1’28” – 10 seconds clear of Carthy and 11 seconds ahead of Bernal. Landa rises to 15th place at 1’49” and level on time with Yates.
There was no change in the maglia ciclamino standings with Belgian Tim Merlier, the winner of Stage 2 from Alpecin-Fenix, still leading the way ahead of Wednesday’s pan-flat 177km fifth stage from Modena to Cattolica, which will reopen the door to the sprinters ahead of the race’s first summit finish on Thursday.

Dombrowski wins after ‘five horrific hours’

Stage 4 results

  • 1. Joe Dombrowski (USA) UAE Team Emirates 4:58:38
  • 2. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation +13
  • 3. Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane +27
  • 4. Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix +29
  • 5. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
  • 6. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ +44
  • 7. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis +49
  • 8. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team +57
  • 9. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux +1:33
  • 10. Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange +1:36

General classification

  • 1. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation 13:50:44
  • 2. Joe Dombrowski (USA) UAE Team Emirates +22
  • 3. Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix +42
  • 4. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team +48
  • 5. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ +1:00
  • 6. Nicolas Edet (Fra) Cofidis +1:15
  • 7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech +1:24
  • 8. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep +1:28
  • 9. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo +1:37
  • 10. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo +1:38
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