French rider Nacer Bouhanni of FDJ.fr claimed victory in Stage 4 of the 2014 Giro d'Italia on Tuesday, winning a sprint finish in Bari after 112 kilometers.
It was the first of the Italian stages after the opening three in Ireland had seen Marcel Kittel win two, but the German rider pulled out of the Giro before Tuesday's run due to illness, per BBC Sport:
The 23-year-old Bouhanni claimed his first Grand Tour stage win, while Orica-GreenEDGE’s Michael Matthews remained in the overall lead.
The stage had no time bonuses at either the intermediate sprint or the finish line, so the time for the stage was actually taken as the riders crossed the finish line after the penultimate lap.
Sky Sports reported the slightly irregular events of the stage, which saw much of it neutralised when riders became concerned for their safety on the slippery roads:
Here are the results of Stage 4 and the updated leaderboard:
|1||Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)||FDJ|
|2||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita)||Trek Factory Racing|
|3||Tom Veelers (Ned)||Giant-Shimano|
|4||Roberto Ferrari (Ita)||Lampre-Merida|
|5||Elia Viviani (Ita)||Cannondale|
|1||Michael Matthews (Aus)||Orica-GreenEDGE||12:28:43|
|2||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)||Omega Pharma–Quick-Step||+8|
|3||Daniel Oss (Ita)||BMC||+10|
|4||Luke Durbridge (Aus)||Orica-GreenEDGE||+14|
|5||Ivan Santaromita (Ita)||Orica-GreenEDGE||same time|
|6||Svein Tuft (Can)||Orica-GreenEDGE||st|
|7||Pieter Weening (Ned)||Orica-GreenEDGE||st|
|8||Rigoberto Uran (Col)||Omega Pharma–Quick-Step||+19|
|9||Pieter Serry (Bel)||Omega Pharma–Quick-Step||st|
|10||Serge Pauwels (Bel)||Omega Pharma–Quick-Step||st|
Stage 4 was not exactly exciting viewing for the most part, as the peloton had agreed to no breakaways and no attacks due to wet and dangerous conditions.
Starting in Giovinazzo, the pace was a slow crawl until deep inside the finishing eight laps of the eight-kilometer circuit in Bari.
The overwhelming theory was that the peloton would be steady until the final lap, when those who wished to contend the sprint finish would be at liberty to do so.
Hence the reason that the general classification times were taken at the end of the penultimate lap.
In fact, the race got up to full pace with three laps to go, with the Orica-GreenEDGE team leading them out from the front.
Eventual winner Bouhanni had real trouble with two laps remaining, when he was forced to stop for a bike change and had to really work to rejoin the peloton—especially after he was reprimanded by the race commissaries after attempting to get a tow from his team car.
Matthews and his Orica-GreenEDGE team had strategically sat near the front of the peloton to ensure he remained in the pink, and the Australian dropped off the pace after the GC times had been recorded with one lap to go.
The final two kilometers showed why the race had been neutralised for much of the stage, as three massive crashes wiped out the majority of the field within minutes of each other.
Tom Veelers of Giant-Shimano led out the sprint but was eventually pipped by a strong finish from Bouhanni and Trek Factory Racing’s Giacomo Nizzolo, who came through in second.
Matthews retains the pink jersey for Wednesday's Stage 5 to Viggiano, which includes the first real climbing test of the race so far.
It may prove to be a sore one for many, as so many riders lost their sits toward the end of Tuesday's stage when the wet roads eventually proved to be as dangerous as many had expected.