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Jonathan Milan wins Giro d'Italia Stage 4, leaves behind Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier

Published at :May 8, 2024 at 1:09 PM
Modified at :May 8, 2024 at 1:09 PM
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Jonathan Milan also had a tough fight with compatriot Filippo Ganna in the last minutes of the race.

Jonathan Milan claimed his second win at the Giro d’Italia, and his first in the 2024 edition, with a magnificent sprint victory in Andora. The Italian had to sprint from far out after his team had burnt matches chasing down escapee Filippo Ganna, but he blew away his rivals, including Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier, to triumph. Tadej Pogacar avoided any drama to retain the leader’s maglia rosa.

On a day that resembled a Milan-Sanremo in miniature, victory went to the towering Jonathan Milan of Lidl-Trek after a monumental performance on the Ligurian coast.

After a late attack from compatriot Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) was mopped up on the home straight, Jonathan Milan went early to hold off Australia’s Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) to secure the second Giro stage win of his career.

Dutch debutant Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Stage 3 winner Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step) of Belgium completed a stellar top five in the 190km stage from Acqui Terme to Andora. But there was no place for Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) after the Eritrean star was forced to withdraw earlier in the stage after crashing twice in a matter of minutes on a wet descent.

Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) experienced the first quiet day of his debut Giro, the UAE Team Emirates leader not drawn out by the late climb to come home safely in the peloton to retain the pink jersey.

Instead, it was that man Ganna who tried his luck on the Capo Mele inside the final five kilometres despite already being involved in the day’s breakaway.

The Italian powerhouse held a slender advantage of seven seconds going over the summit but was swept up on the home straight well inside the final kilometre. After launching early, Jonathan Milan recovered from a clash of shoulders with Kooij to surge clear and claim victory despite late surges from Groves and Bauhaus.

“There are so many emotions now,” 24-year-old Jonathan Milan said before heaping praise on his Lidl-Trek team-mates. “From the beginning we came here with one goal for everyone. Today the guys did such an amazing job and it’s such an amazing sensation to get another win here on the Giro d’Italia. I have to thank my team-mates for their belief. It’s also special because my parents are here for this victory.”

The day’s breakaway of four riders quickly formed after Ganna bridged over to Spain’s Francisco Munoz (Team Polti Kometa), South African Stefan De Bod (EF Education-EasyPost) and France’s Lilian Calmejane (Intermarche-Wanty).

Ganna’s presence in the move ensured the peloton gave the quartet short shrift resulting in the Italian sitting up after the gap failed to grow much beyond the one-minute mark. As soon as the dangerman was reabsorbed and the heavens opened, the trio managed to stretch its lead to well over five minutes.

Little of note happened until the day’s solitary categorised climb at the midway point proved the turning point, with the gap starting to come down and a handful of sprinters – notably Dutchman Fabio Jakobsen (dsm-firmenish PostNL) – being tailed off in the mist.

A big crash on a slippery corner of the descent saw a dozen riders hit the deck, including the Eritrean sprinter Girmay. Despite a nasty gash to his right hip, Girmay remounted – only to crash again just minutes later, this time onto his left side after losing his front wheel. It proved one fall too many for the 24-year-old, who was forced to abandon.

Moments before Girmay withdrew, his team-mate Calmejane sat up from the break to leave just Munoz and De Bod out ahead with a gap of two minutes on the pack. The duo pressed on up the Ligurian coast as the sun finally broke through the clouds and the tempo skyrocketed behind.

Riding roads best known for Milan-Sanremo, the first Monument of the season, the peloton closed in on its pray as they rampaged towards the Capo Mele – the first of the so-called ‘Tre Capi’ climbs. Usually the point in La Classicissima where the racing really begins, the summit of the Capo Mele came just three kilometres from the finish in Ancona – a potential launchpad for any opportunistic attacks to defy the sprinters.

And if Pogacar was – for once – not tempted by the carrot dangled in front of his pink jersey, Ganna took the bait and powered clear to steal a march on the main field just moments after De Bod and Munoz were gobbled up.

Ganna held off several attempts from riders to bridge over but he eventually ran out of road at the bottom of the descent – paving the way for the sprinters to work their magic in an enthralling showdown.

Jonathan Milan repaid his Lidl-Trek team-mates for the solid work they had carried out to control the race during what proved to be a stressful and largely wet day in the saddle. A winner 24 hours earlier, Merlier looked to be closing in on Jonathan Milan but the Belgian ran out of gas and slumped to fifth place to concede the win and the ciclamino jersey to the rangy Italian.

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Pogacar finished safely in the pack to retain his 46-second lead over Welsh veteran Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) in the general classification. Colombia’s Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgroge) punctured in the closing moments but was awarded the same time and so stays in third place, while Belgium’s Cian Uijtdebroeks (Visma-Lease a Bike) moved above Colombia’s Ruber Einer (Movistar) into fourth after picking up the final bonus second at the third intermediate sprint in Savona.

The Giro continues on Wednesday with the 178km Stage 5 from Genova to Lucca, where another summit meeting between the fastmen is expected despite a Cat.4 climb inside the final 20km.

Catch all the action from CYCLING World Tour 2024 – GIRO D ITALIA – Stage 5 – Genova- Lucca LIVE on EUROSPORT and EUROSPORT HD from 19:00 Hrs (07:00 pm IST) onwards on Wednesday, 08th May, 2024.

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