Earlier than stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia and the near-summit end of Lago Laceno, there was a lot debate if there would or wouldn’t be a GC battle. However the one notable takeaway amongst the general favourites was that Ineos Grenadiers had been collectively as sturdy on the climbs as that they had been within the opening time trial.
The second class ascent of Colle Molella that successfully concluded stage 4 is nowhere close to the extent of issue of the Gran Sasso and the Alps and Dolomites within the second and third week of the Giro.
Nevertheless it was notable that at the same time as Remco Evenepoel’s final three Soudal-QuickStep help riders on the climb – Mattia Cattaneo, Jan Hirt and Louis Vervaeke – dropped off the tempo, Ineos Grenadiers nearly immediately had their trio of pacemakers on the entrance.
Laborious work by Laurens de Plus, Pavel Sivakov, and Thymen Arensman helped squeeze the hole down on stage winner Aurélien Paret-Peintre (AG2R-Citroen) and new pink jersey Andreas Leknessund (DSM) down to simply beneath two minutes by the end and concurrently maintained the entrance group at round two dozen because it sped excessive of the Molella and all the way down to Lago Laceno.
However as Geraint Thomas, now sixth at 1:26, informed reporters on the end, even when the concept of shrinking the hole to the purpose the place Remco remained within the lead was in the back of his thoughts, the primary aim was merely to maintain the entrance peloton beneath management.
“I wasn’t that bothered if we rode or not, we had been simply staying in a very good place,” Thomas defined. “We had been simply staying in a very good place, and we had been all of the sudden on the entrance, and it was – let’s simply hold going and see what occurs.
“I did ask what the time hole was as a result of it will have been good to have flicked him [Remco] and introduced the time down so he saved the jersey. Nevertheless it was extra about staying in management, all of us felt fairly good, and we had numbers, so it was good.”
Thomas was one of many few riders current that knew the climb from the earlier ascent within the Giro, using it in 2012 when he was utilizing the Italian Grand Tour as a build-up for racing on the monitor within the London Olympics – the place he took gold within the staff pursuit.
That 12 months he completed 124th, 16 minutes down, however 11 years on and together with his eye firmly on the GC ball, Thomas mentioned regardless of varied technological distractions, he was glad together with his efficiency on the stage and the climb itself.
“My bracket on which my Garmin – which tells me the time and distance and velocity and every little thing – got here off, so I used to be using blind for a bit, and my bike appeared to be clicking, too. It was a kind of days the place I appeared to be concentrating on every little thing however the race,” he mentioned.
“However yeah, it was all good, it was good to get a good day within the legs as a substitute of regular all day after which an enormous explosion on the finish,” as occurred on Monday at Melfi, with its sequence of small punchy climbs after hours of racing on the flat.
As for what his legs informed him, he mentioned that as but, it’s too quickly to say how he felt for positive and that the second week would offer a extra definitive verdict, “for the second, it is OK”.
The Gran Sasso would be the subsequent battle, he recognised, however after two days of regular rainfall, different, extra unpredictable, elements would possibly but make a distinction.
“You by no means know – if the climate stays like this, something can occur,” he warned, “so we’ll simply take it on day-to-day and never look too far forward.”