Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) started the final climb of the day, the Colle Passerino, a minute and 20 seconds behind the leading pair but lead the attacks from the chasing group over to the duo. With the peloton distanced and De Marchi the second best on the general classification in the 25-man breakaway, he only needed a slight gap on Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) and to not concede too much time to anyone else.
He put himself in the box seat on the final climb to move into pink with his attacks, and while Dombrowski was able to distance the Italian on the steepest slopes of the climb, it was De Marchi who took the handsome prize of the maglia rosa.
He was emotional after gaining enough time to take pink from fellow Italian Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), who bowed out of pink after working for team leaders Bernal and Sivakov early in the stage.
“I’m going to cry if I think about wearing the maglia rosa," said De Marchi. "This is a small reward for the thousands of attempts I made during my 11-year career. I’m going to try to really enjoy it. It’s for me and my wife Anna.”
“I’d been thinking about the maglia rosa all stage and even in the last few days. I thought I’d lost my chance at one point and would have been devastated after making a mistake but the famous rule came true: Never give up. And in the, end it all worked out."
De Marchi’s place in a bike race has always been off the front attacking, but that aggression hadn't yet netted the Italian a stage win in his home Grand Tour or any jerseys or prizes.
“I feel a bit disoriented, almost out of place,” said de Marchi. "I was maybe too used to trying, too used to never giving up, but still never picking up the big prize. I think until I’m alone in bed tonight, I’ll still be disoriented like this. I might even cry a bit, but then I’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
“With my style of racing, I know the chances of winning are always low, but the important thing is not to give up. I’ve always been generous in my efforts, but I don’t think it’s been a mistake for me to race like that."
With a decade of trying in his legs the 34-year-old has been a consistent entertainer of the fans for years now, if not always a mainstay at the top of the podium. Now, with the pink jersey on his shoulders, the Italian has finally reaped the rewards for being brave and going on the attack.
“My way of doing things is a lot more romantic than modern cycling allows, but I’ve always interpreted cycling in this way," said De Marchi. "I was taught that when I turned professional with Gianni Savio.”
“Maybe my style isn’t the most practical. There have been races where I spent the day in the break and got caught, and I was still happier with those than races where I got a placing.”
The Giro d'Italia continues tonight with a flat Stage 5 from Modena to Cattolica, the sprinters will no doubt be hoping it's their time to shine after a day in the mountains and then being denied the day before by Taco van der Hoorn.
Watch the live action on SBS On Demand and SBS VICELAND from 2100 AEST.