He tasted victory champagne first yesterday, and apparently liked it so much he decided to do it again today. Riccardo Riccó (Ita - Saunier Duval-Prodir) has scored his second straight win in the 42nd "Race of the Two Seas" at the end of the 161 km. journey from Pievebovigliana to Offagna. The Italian finished four seconds clear of Germany's Stefan Schumacher and yesterday's runner-up Alexander Vinokourov, with Janez Brajkovic, Tomas Dekker, Andreas Kloeden, Michael Boogerd, Stefano Garzelli, Jens Voigt and Linus Gerdemann in the other top ten spots.
Riccó made today's right move in the last kilometre as he countered attacks from Vinokourov and Kloeden. Plus, the Italian stole the yellow/red jersey of the overall leader from another race revelation, Alexander Arekeev. Vinokourov moved up into place number two on the GC, and Schumacher into third. Riccó is likely to surrender the jersey (to the Kazakh?) after tomorrow's Civitanova Marche ITT of 20.5 km, but Monday's mountaintop finish stage into San Giacomo could play into his hands again.
Earlier into the stage, Aitor Hernández of Euskaltel-Euskadi stole the limelight as he launched a solo attack after 67 km. The Basque put close to eight minutes into the field (with Liquigas Francesco Failli embarking on a fruitless solo chase of the fugitive) and was reeled in by the bunch with just seven km to go. Italians Marco Velo (Milram) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) had a shot at breaking away 3 km from the finish, but they didn't go any far. The aforementioned moves from Vinokourov, Kloeden and Riccó followed: the foreigners didn't succeed, the Italian did.
Paolo Bettini fell badly during the stage, and so did Switzerland's Martin Elmiger and Quick Step's Spaniard Carlos Barredo, but they did cross the line, unilke another Italian rider, Ivan Basso. Despite badly hitting his fist yesterday, the 2006 Giro winner was at the startline today, his left fist bandaged, but pulled out of the Tirreno-Adriatico around km. 36.5; and with Milan-Sanremo just one week away, his participation in the upcoming "Classicissima di Primavera" is also in danger. We're more likely to find him back into action in Spain, at the Vuelta Castilla y Leon stage race (March 26-30), where he could gauge his form in a stage against the clock and one hilly stage.
Complete Stage Results (pdf file)
Full GC after Stage 4 (pdf file)
Points: Standings after Stage 4 (pdf file)
Mountains: Standings after Stage 4 (pdf file)
Teams: GC after Stage 4 (pdf file)
Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1
Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 2
Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 3