Giro d'Italia 2020, Stage 4: Catania – Villafranca Tirrena 140 km

Ladies and Gentlemen, after today I'm officially hyped. Can't wait for the next mountains but before that we have to get past this:

Stage 4: Catania – Villafranca Tirrena 140 km
Tuesday, October 6th, 12:15 CEST





Technical Overview:
The last stage in Sicily is the shortest of the whole race, and quite a weird one. Starting in Catania, the riders will go through rolling terrain for the first 50 km, mostly following the coastline. Just before the town of Taormina they will turn inland and cross the hills to reach the other side of the island. The climb they will face looks great on the official profile, but the scale is very inflated. Portella Mandrazzi (GPM3, 19.5 km at 4%) is just a Montevergine kind of climb: steady and very easy overall, but fairly long. It should be more than enough to drop the heavier guys if the peloton wants. The top however is at 65 km to go, with a long descent to come and an even longer flat stretch. The descent is 25 km long, very fast with wide roads. After that, the final 40 km are all flat, with the last 20 directly along the coast.



The Climbs:
Portella Mandrazzi: GPM3, 16.2 km at 4.6%

A rather long but easy climb. We have no official profile, so here is Cyclingcols’s.


What to expect:
This should be a good breakaway stage, with the climb in the middle that sprinters’ teams won’t easily be able to push on. If the peloton wants the stage win however, some pure sprinter might get into trouble. There is also some chance of wind in the final section of course.


Catania
 
All the big name sprinters should be there, could see the likes of Lonardi getting dropped badly but that’s about it. This kind of climb mid-stage just rarely does anything.
If the climb was a little bit steeper then it would be either high enough pace to drop most sprinters or a break would go away.

But with 4.6% average it will be easier to control.
 
This looks like the kind of archetype of those Tour of California stages that Sagan likes so much - climbing that's far too hard for the bunch sprinter, but too far away from the finish for any strong climbers to realistically attack on, and at this kind of gradient, even if the climb is pretty long I can't see them gunning this at a really high tempo, so he should be able to stay in the bunch and at that point, especially bearing in mind the Agrigento finish, he ought to be comfortably the fastest guy left.

The main thing that will change that eventuality is if Quick Step are happy to let the break take this one, which with so many people distanced big-time today, they may well be. You know, 2009 Tour Tarbes-style, where nobody really wanted to help the teams bring it back to be beaten in a sprint by Freire or Rojas (who found a way to come 4th from that sprint, because of course he did), as I can't imagine too many teams would want to help Bora in that eventuality unless their own sprinters had made it over the climb.
 
Bora and possibly Sunweb will try to set a high pace, surely. If you set a high enough pace on 5-6% ramps, you can put minutes into the pure sprinters.
They both also have GC riders to look after, both of whom have a golden chance at their first ever GT podium and possibly even the win after today, so not sure they have enough riders between them that they're willing to expend. Plus that Stage 6 is a much easier opportunity to get rid of Démare and Gaviria before the sprint.

Cast your mind back to this stage in 2017, also in the first week. Similar climb, but closer to the finish and with more climbing before it. Greipel won and Gaviria and Ewan also survived.
 
They both also have GC riders to look after, both of whom have a golden chance at their first ever GT podium and possibly even the win after today, so not sure they have enough riders between them that they're willing to expend. Plus that Stage 6 is a much easier opportunity to get rid of Démare and Gaviria before the sprint.
Majka made the podium at the 2015 Vuelta.
 
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