In what had widely been expected to be a stage for the sprinters or, at least, the puncheurs, the headlines from Tuesday's fourth stage at the Giro d'Italia were dominated by those in the race for pink.
For the second day running there was a crash in the frantic finale to a very long, and often boring, stage. As is so often the case at the Giro, though, there was enough drama – too much, even – in the final six kilometres to leave even the most casual observer aghast.
Crashes, time gaps, and post-race polemica – followed swiftly by a grovelling apology – provided us with enough to gorge on; our appetites sated after being starved of any real entertainment for almost six hours.
However, one talking point that was overlooked amid the chaos was this: Primoz Roglic appears to have Lady Luck on his side.
Ok, suggesting Roglic is wearing the maglia rosa because of good fortune is stretching things a bit far. But after riding his luck through the carnage where Tom Dumoulin lost over four minutes while all of his other general classification rivals, other than stage winner Richard Carapaz (16th overall at 1min 21sec), also made losses the Jumbo-Visma rider managed to extend his overall lead.
After taking the leader's pink jersey on the opening day of this year's race many observers – including yours truly – questioned the wisdom of such folly. Not since Gianni Bugno in 1990 has a rider worn the maglia rosa for the entirety of the three-week race. If Roglic is to pull off the extraordinary feat then, just as he did on Tuesday, he will need to ride his luck on many more occasions as la corsa rosa twists and turns its way through Italy (and, briefly San Marino).
They say true champions do not crash. Though strictly speaking this is not true – just ask Chris Froome – one can understand why people believe this. On Tuesday, I believe Roglic was, in fact, saved by the very fact that he was dressing in the maglia rosa.
Protected by his Jumbo-Visma team-mates on the run-in, Roglic was sat near the front of the pack. Perfectly positioned to avoid the carnage and split that led to time losses for the main protagonists in the general classification. Had the Slovenian who is riding only his fourth grand tour been even just one row – or one train – back then, like Simon Yates, Vincenzo Nibali and Miguel Ángel López he, too, will have lost time. There's a long way to go yet and as we were reminded on Tuesday, a race can be won or lost within the blink of an eye.
Roglic has rode his luck to perfection thus far, but does he really have Lady Luck on his side this year? Only time will tell.
In the frame
At 228km, Tuesday's stage was the fourth longest of this year's Giro. In what turned out to be yet another dramatic stage, the riders crossed over from Tuscany into the Lazio region of Italy. Here photographer Luk Benies captures perfectly one of the many switchbacks that the riders had to navigate early into the stage.
As the race for pink – along with stages and the other various classifications – heats up, there will be plenty of twists and turns to come, all of which you can follow here on Telegraph Sport.
Quote of the day . . .
“That f------ [Simon] Yates. He’s mentally retarded. He rides like a madman and he made me fall.”
Mikel Landa (Movistar)
Following the frenetic finale on stage four when Landa lost more time in the general classification, the annoyed Spaniard wasted little time in pointing the finger at the Mitchelton-Scott rider who appears to have got under the skin of a number of his rivals at this year's Giro. On reflection, Landa came back with an apology to Yates, tweeting that his quotes had been "taken out of context".
Playing the numbers game
What a performance from #Giro stage four winner @RichardCarapazM �� In comparison, here was @TeamUAEAbuDhabi rider @DiegoUlissi's last 1km:— Velon CC (@VelonCC) May 14, 2019
Avg Speed: 32.5km/h
Avg Power: 515W
Max Power: 840W
Stage 4 data recap: https://t.co/GNv9iyZSSZpic.twitter.com/UFbmr6p4gr
The Cycling Podcast: word from the streets
For the second day in a row, the Giro d’Italia served up crash-related drama in the final half dozen kilometres.
Join Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe for a glass of Frascati after the finish of stage four as they discuss who lost and who gained.
The stage was won by Movistar’s Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz, who won a stage in impressive style last year. We hear from Australian Caleb Ewan of Lotto-Soudal who was one of only a dozen or so to dodge both late crashes and who set off in pursuit of Carapaz in the final three hundred metres.
We ask whether Tom Dumoulin’s crash means the end of not just his Giro d’Italia hopes but his participation in the race, we hear from Team Ineos’s Tao Geogheghan Hart about the time he lost on Monday, Gianni Savio reveals his formation for the stage and we taste some Frascati wine, some wine that’s not Frascati and a local delicacy, a three-breasted honey-bread woman.
- The Cycling Podcast is supported by Rapha and Science in Sport
The broomwagon . . .
Italy, the home of fine coffee and best food in the world. It's one of Telegraph Sport's favourite places in the world to cycle, too, though that may have a little to do with the coffee and food . . .
Keeping it classy here in Italy. Nutrition on point. A cult classic: The humble chip butty. pic.twitter.com/TyJOLEIicY— Tao Geoghegan Hart (@taogeoghegan) May 14, 2019
. . . sometimes, though, you just need a little taste of home.