Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Garmin) soloed to victory on stage four of the 2015 Giro d’Italia as the general classification was obliterated on an enthralling day.
Formolo escaped off the front of the break as the peloton approached the final climb of the day, the third-category Biassa ascent, and stayed clear of an elite chasing pack to seal victory.
Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) led home the chasing group, meanwhile, sprinting into the pink jersey to ensure the Australian team retained the race lead – Clarke following team-mates Simon Gerrans and Michael Matthews into the maglia rosa.
Matthews’ stint in the pink jersey was ended by a furious pace in the peloton on the lumpy stage, with no shortage of riders getting into groups up the road too.
Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Clarke, Formolo and Dario Cataldo (Astana) were just some of the riders to find themselves in the large front group – after Kreuziger had led a chasing group to the original leaders.
Matthews was dropped with more than 50 kilometres remaining, while a flurry of attacks in the front group ensured the day was hugely unpredictable.
Yonathan Monsalve (Southeast) was one rider to put in a solo dig off the front of that group, but it was Formolo’s attack which stung his former breakaway companions.
Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Amael Moinard (BMC Racing) led the chase, with the peloton sweeping up the remains of the breakaway thanks to a great pace set by Astana.
That speed saw Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) isolated, with four riders on the Kazakh team leading the way.
Fabio Aru saw his opportunity to attack as a result, but he was followed by Richie Porte (Team Sky) and Contador, who wasted little time catching one of the remaining groups from the breakaway.
Formolo, meanwhile, pressed on alone at the front – cresting the final climb with a healthy lead and keeping hold of it into the finale to celebrate the biggest win of his fledgling career.
Clarke sprinted into second place, having buried himself to return to the Contador/Porte/Aru group, raising his arms in celebration as he crossed the line.
He claimed he knew he was only sprinting for the overall lead, but whether or not he thought he also had a stage win, the Australian will roll out in pink for stage four.
Behind him overall, Kreuziger, Contador and Aru all remain in the top ten, with Porte also sneaking in for the first time.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage four – result
1) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale-Garmin – 3.47.59hrs
2) Simon Clarke (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE +22”
3) Yonathan Monsalve (VEN) – Southeast
4) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar
5) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE
6) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana
7) Amael Moinard (FRA) – BMC Racing
8) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana
9) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo
10) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky
1) Simon Clarke (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE – 11.54.48hrs
2) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +10”
3) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +17”
4) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – ST
5) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +23”
6) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana – ST
7) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar +29”
8) Amael Moinard (FRA) – BMC Racing +31”
9) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale-Garmin – ST
10) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +37”