Despite attack after attack, many of which included CCC Team riders, it took almost 30 kilometers, of the 163.6-kilometer course, for a seven-rider breakaway to go clear and once the peloton sat up, De Marchi and his fellow leaders were able to open up an advantage of almost four minutes.
However, the main bunch was looking to keep control of proceedings with such a strong breakaway up the road and, going into the second half of the race, which featured three of the day’s four categorized climbs, the gap started to fall.
Approaching the foot of the penultimate categorized climb, the front group was holding onto two-minute advantage but with De Marchi looking to push on at the front of the race, only Carlos Verona (Movistar Team) was able to stay with him going over the top with less than 40 kilometers to go.
However, the duo’s lead had fallen to 40 seconds as they began a long, tricky descent towards the day’s final ascent after the General Classification battle began to heat up on the slopes of the category one Bikoitz Gane climb.
De Marchi wasn’t going to give up without a fight though and his determined effort at the front of the race saw the peloton held off until the 13-kilometer to go mark and even after the catch was made, the Italian rider slotted himself into the first 20 positions of the bunch.
The final sting in the tail was a punchy category three climb, the top of which came with just over two kilometers to go, and it was here that a quartet of riders, including race leader and eventual stage winner, Maximilian Schachmann (BORA – hansgrohe), gained enough ground to go on to sprint for the day’s top honors.
De Marchi and Víctor de la Parte were still sitting in the main bunch as the race exploded but in the end, after a tough day of racing, made even harder by the weather conditions, the CCC Team pair lost contact with the first chasing group.
In the end, after a strong performance out at the front for most of the day, De Marchi was the team’s first rider across the line, finishing as part of a small group around 50 seconds back.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Alessandro De Marchi:
“Today was a day to try to find a good breakaway but in the end, it didn’t work out how I would have liked. It’s a pity but you know, the bunch almost always has the last word. I found the right move at the beginning though and was in a group of seven guys which was a good number to have but nobody was totally focussed and not everyone believed in the breakaway.”
“It was a day that I knew could end the way it did but it was a good effort on my part, a big effort but unfortunately I got nothing back from it. We will try again though. It’s the only thing to do.”
Gabriele Missaglia, Sports Director:
“At the start of the stage, we saw all of our riders trying to force a breakaway to go clear, which was good, and, in the end, it was a move by De Marchi that stuck. It was a hard day though with the wet and cold weather, at the start of the day it was only seven degrees centigrade and I don’t think the temperature rose any more than that really.”
“The seven riders were working together at first but the peloton did not want to give them too much room with lots of teams working to control the race. In the end, De Marchi was caught with just over 10 kilometers to go but even after his effort, he was able to stay with the bunch almost all the way to the line. Overall, with the slippery conditions in the final, I think we always have to be happy that all of our riders arrived safely.”
Itzulia Basque Country
Stage 4: Vitoria-Gasteiz > Arrigorriaga (163.6km)
Top 3: 1. Maximilian Schachmann (BORA – hansgrohe) 2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) 3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 40. Alessandro De Marchi 50. Víctor de la Parte 89. Amaro Antunes
Photos courtesy of Cor Vos