Giro d’Italia 2017: Jan Polanc solos to Mount Etna stage victory as Geraint Thomas goes second overall

Welshman snatches bonus seconds with third-placed finish; Bob Jungels takes pink jersey

Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) soloed to victory on Mount Etna after a day in the breakaway, as Bob Jungels (QuickStep Floors) replaced team-mate Fernando Gaviria as race leader.

Polanc was part of a four-man move which forged clear after two kilometres, and pressed on solo on the run-in to the race’s first summit finish – climbing Etna alone to grab the second Giro stage win of his career.

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas snatched four bonus seconds, meanwhile, after finishing third, and moves second overall – six seconds behind Jungels, who gained time in the crosswinds on stage three, and four clear of third-placed compatriot Adam Yates (Orica-Scott).

Jan Polanc soloed to victory on Mount Etna (pic – RCS Sport)

Polanc joined Eugenio Alafaci (Trek-Segafredo), Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo) in forming the day’s break, and they were allowed a decent margin as the peloton settled back into the racing rhythm.

QuickStep Floors, with pink jersey Gaviria in their number, hit the front to control proceedings but the pace was steady at best.

The long Portella Femmina Morta climb failed to cause big problems – the steady gradient and steady pace comfortable enough for the fast men, Gaviria among them – to get over with little trouble.

Janse van Rensburg took the honours at the top of the climb, ahead of a visibly unhappy Polanc, while King of the Mountains Daniel Teklehaimanot led the peloton over with the gap down to less than seven minutes.

Trips to the team car aside, there was no real drama to report in the peloton – with the action being saved for Mount Etna – but Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) did become the first rider to leave this year’s race, still suffering the effects of a late crash on Sunday.

Alafaci’s day in the break ended prematurely, and he was swept up by the peloton with 29km remaining – Bahrain-Merida having taken control of the bunch through Valerio Agnoli.

Andre Greipel, in the points jersey, was spat out by the bunch on the uncategorised climb to Ragalna, but Gaviria remained third wheel – giving a good account of himself in the maglia rosa.

At the front, three leaders became two – Brutt losing contact with his former breakaway companions – while the pace in the peloton ramped up as riders fought for position ahead of Mount Etna.

Javier Moreno (Bahrain-Merida) and Diego Rosa (Team Sky) exchanged angry words in the peloton, while plenty were shelled out the back.

Disaster struck just outside the 20km to go banner in the peloton, however, with several riders – Gaviria included – heading straight on instead of turning, with the knock-on effect of the ensuing panic causing riders to crash.

Jeremy Roy (FDJ) and Pavel Kochetkov (Katusha-Alpecin) both hit the deck, while LottoNL-Jumbo and Katusha-Alpecin had to rally their GC leaders – both of whom had already lost time – back to the bunch.

Gaviria latched back on but was dropped as the climb of Mount Etna started, as was white jersey and stage one winner Lukas Postlberger, while up the road Polanc forged on solo.

Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) both attacked the peloton but failed to get much leeway, while Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) and Mikel Landa (Team Sky) had to chase back to the bunch after a crash and puncture respectively.

With Astana desperate for a stage win, Jesper Hansen was next to attack – followed by Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – but the move was shut down.

Bob Jungels is the new race leader, leading Geraint Thomas by six seconds (pic – Sirotti)

Polanc carried a minute’s advantage into the final two kilometres, and still led under the flamme rouge, but counter-attacks behind – the latest led by Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) continued to close down his advantage.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) pushed on alone, having marked Dumoulin’s move, but as far as the stage win was concerned, Polanc could not be denied a remarkable victory.

Zakarin – who lost time on stage two – was able to eke back a few seconds as he held on for second place, while Thomas led what was left of the peloton home to claim four bonus seconds of his own.

Jungels finished in peloton too, meanwhile, and now leads the race overall for the second consecutive year.

Giro d’Italia 2017: stage four – result

1) Jan Polanc (SVN) – UAE Team Emirates – 4.55.58hrs
2) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +19”
3) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +29”
4) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ – ST
5) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana
6) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Team Sunweb
7) Bob Jungels (LUX) – QuickStep Floors
8) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott
9) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo
10) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida

General classification

1) Bob Jungels (LUX) – QuickStep Floors – 19.41.56hrs
2) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +6”
3) Adam Yates (GBR) – Orica-Scott +10”
4) Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida – ST
5) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale
6) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar
7) Tom Dumoulin (NED) – Team Sunweb
8) Bauke Mollema (NED) – Trek-Segafredo
9) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Team Sky
10) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ

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