Stage 4 was tougher than many expected, with riders failing to cope with the pace up the Via del Fortino. The highest profile riders to lose time were 2012 Giro d'Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal (Trek-Segafredo) and last year's fourth place finisher Andrey Amador (Movistar) both conceding 43 seconds to stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).

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Hesjedal spoke after the stage. Whilst disappointed, he was far from distraught with the time loss.

"It was fast all day and definitely in the last 80 kilometres or so it was full-on with shorter, complicated climbs," said Hesjedal.

"Even on the last climb I was right there and I could see the front and just in the last couple of switchbacks before getting onto the highway a bunch of guys let the wheels go and then all of a sudden no one wanted to help (close the gap).

"I was a bit isolated and a few seconds at the top turned into 35 in seven kilometres. That's the frustrating part, but what can you do? It was a complicated stage near the end. But I feel that we rode well and did everything right and then still at the end to still lose time eats at you a little bit more.

"But, the race is long so you can't get too worried about it. If I have the legs I know I can have in the second half of the Giro, then today won't matter. And if I don't have the legs I know I can have, well... today won't matter."

"You don't want to lose time ever, but you have to realize the race is long and it can definitely be worse," said Hesjedal.

"It was worse the last two years at this stage of the race, but it's more frustrating when you know that you have good legs. But this is also the plus side knowing that I feel good, especially when compared to a couple of weeks ago."

Time will tell whether this early faltering will be felt by the Canadian later in the race or if he can overcome this hiccup and return to the battle for pink.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

It had been a very good start to the Giro for Costa-Rican rider Andrey Amador (Movistar), but a bad day on the slopes of Via del Fortino saw him lose 43 seconds to stage winner Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida).

He arrived at the finish line with the third group and will now focus on helping team leader Alejandro Valverde in his bid for the maglia rosa.

"It was a pretty tough day, very hot. I was not up to it, I did not respond as I wanted. I am very grateful to the entire team for supporting me and trust me. There was the possibility of seeking the overall, but in the end it was not possible," said Amador according to the Movistar website in Spanish.

"Despite the bad day we have not lost much time. The time loss is important, but this is the Giro and you can lose minutes in the later stages. The team has been very good, Alejandro (Valverde) is still there. The important thing is to keep Alejandro’s aspirations intact."  

Fourth in last year's Giro, there had been hopes from the Movistar camp that Amador may have been able to provide a fallback if anything happened to Valverde, but it looks now as if the veteran Spaniard will be the sole protected rider. 

A very relaxed Marcel Kittel (Ettix-QuickStep) appeared at the line up for stage 4, his first on Italian soil in two Giro d'Italia starts. He is already winner in Nijmegen and Arnhem, the general classification leader and holder of the red jersey with more than 100 points into his pocket.

The 27-year-old German went to the signature point, joined by his team-mates who were instrumental in the victories he scored last week-end. He received a warm welcome from the thousands of fans gathered in Catanzaro, the start city of Tuesday's 200km long stage.

Even though he lost the maglia rosa, Kittel was all smiles in Praia a Mare, as he is still leading the red jersey rankings thanks to the points he scored on Saturday and Sunday, when he took back-to-back victories.

“It was a memorable day. The people who came to watch the race were unbelievable, cheering for us and shouting our name from start to finish. This shows just how much they love cycling and seeing them today made me even prouder to be here and have the jersey on my shoulders.” - Marcel Kittel

The first German rider in 10 years to lead the Giro, Kittel admitted that he hadn’t the easiest of days on the lumpy roads of southern Italy, but despite suffering and losing the maglia rosa, he still remained upbeat:

“We honoured the pink jersey, but the final was very hard and so it turned out to be really difficult for me, also because we experienced high temperatures.

"I am a little bit sad but losing the jersey wasn’t a surprise because the whole day was an up-and-down affair on a difficult parcours, totally different than the one in the Netherlands. Now I will continue to give my best in the following stages and ride with big confidence in myself and the team.”

After finishing ninth in the 2015 Giro d’Italia a similar solid performance was expected from Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) in this edition of the Grand Tour. The wheels fell off in Stage 3 after he and the majority of his team crashed close to the finish. Later, Geniez was fined for a spat with AG2R La Mondiale rider Hubert Dupont.

Geniez abandoned the race during Stage 4 ending an ignominious Giro for the Frenchman. 

“Alex had hurt the wrist since his fall, and the medical care was not enough to erase the pain. It was even more apparent during this stage and the painkillers did not really take effect.

"This stage was sinuous, kept going up and down and Alex just kept getting worse, eventually he was unable to grip his handlebars. I picked him up and he had very low morale. He abandoned.

"It’s a shame for him and it’s a shame for us. Therefore, we will now focus on stages that favour Arnaud Démare.” - Martial Gayant, sports director for FDJ.