Nacer Bouhanni manages to sprint

After the Giro’s stint in Ireland, several riders had said they were looking forward to the warmer, drier weather of Italy. Well, the joke’s on them because stage four was so wet and dangerous that everyone was forced to dawdle along without racing. It was decided that times would be taken after the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit and then the sprinters could race if they wanted to.

Quite a few didn’t – and that seemed quite wise. Eight kilometres of racing, in which only about a third of the peloton was really involved, saw a number of crashes. In the end, Nacer Bouhanni won, in large part because he was just about the only one sprinting.

The finish

With crashes, gaps from crashes, slowing for corners and general not-really-fancying-it all taking their toll in the closing kilometres, a grand total of six riders made it into the final corner to sprint for the win. Of those, two were from the same team. Tom Veelers would therefore have been expected to start his sprint early to lead out team-mate Luka Mezgec.

Unfortunately, with just a couple of hundred metres to go, there was still time for further thinning of the contenders as Mezgec suffered some sort of issue – possibly mechanical, possibly he just bricked it on the sharp bend and lost his line. Whatever it was, it left Veelers sprinting… and sprinting… and sprinting. Nacer Bouhanni went past him for the win and so did Giacomo Nizzolo to take second. Bouhanni himself had only just about managed to catch the peloton in time for the final lap after a mechanical problem, opening up the possibility that he could have won the stage with a slower finishing time than everyone else.

Where was Marcel Kittel?

He had a fever and pulled out of the race before the start. You may therefore one day hear the pub quiz question:

Which cyclist won two stages of the 2014 Giro d’Italia without actually racing in Italy?

That’s if you go to the kind of pub quiz that features questions about the Giro of course. If you do, let me know where it is. It sounds all right.

Stage five

Thank Coppi for that – some hills. It’s too tough a finish for most of the sprinters, but Ben Swift and Michael Matthews might feature.