Italian Davide Formolo was rewarded for going it alone with victory on stage four of the Giro d’Italia.
The 22-year-old Cannondale-Garmin rider launched a solo attack from an early breakaway shortly before the foot of the final climb to clinch the first professional win of his career, crossing the line 22 seconds ahead of Orica GreenEdge’s Simon Clarke.
Second place earned the Australian the Maglia Rosa, taking over from his team-mate Michael Matthews.
Overall race favorite Alberto Contador was left without any team mates in the Astana-led chasing pack but managed to avoid real damage, the Spaniard finishing 22 seconds behind in a group that included Clarke and Team Sky’s Richie Porte.
Formolo attacked just before the final climb with about 13km remaining and once he reached the top with a 30-second advantage he held on for a masterful victory.
“I tried to go in a breakaway in the second last climb but the other riders caught me. I tried again on the last climb and luckily I could go to the finish line alone. Amazing,” the Cannondale-Garmin rider said.
Formolo admitted the finish into La Spezia, at the end of the 150km stage from Chiavari, had been a special one.
“The final 500m were absolutely incredible,” he said.
“The noise of the crowd made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. I only knew I’d won the stage 100m from the finish line. I wasn’t thinking of the Maglia Rosa. I’m riding my first Giro d’Italia, so I’m taking it day by day and there is no pressure on me.”
Clarke’s closest challenge in the general classification is now Colombian team-mate Esteban Chaves, who is 10 seconds back.
“It’s a pretty special moment,” the Australian said. “You could see the emotion on the line. I’m stoked to keep the Maglia Rosa in the team, to be able to take the jersey and keep it for Orica for another day,” Clarke told Eurosport.
“(Team mates) Michael Matthews and Simon Gerrans have had great days and today it worked for me.”
Pozzovivo crashed on a descent 94km into Monday’s stage from Rapallo to Sestri Levante, prompting fears his injuries could be life-threatening.
Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died from injuries suffered in a crash during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2011, but Pozzovivo — considered a possible podium contender — has escaped relatively unscathed.
Giro d’Italia deputy director Massimo Branca said, “He spent a good night in hospital; one of our staff was with him throughout the night, and he informed me that he [Pozzovivo] was able to have breakfast this morning.”
Pozzovivo, known for his dislike of rapid descents, had over 20 stitches inserted in wounds to his head and face after losing control of his bike following a right-hand bend in the road.
He later told reporters, “I don’t remember how or why I crashed. I just remember the descent was challenging, perhaps one of my wheels skidded out.”
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