Race Report Giro Stage 4: Clara Emond Conquers Urbino in Solo Victory

Written by: Niels Goudriaan
Posted 2 days ago

Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia Women 2024, from Imola to Urbino, spanned 134km and provided a perfect blend of flat roads and challenging climbs. This stage was hot and hard and a memorable solo victory by Clara Emond of EF Education-Cannondale.

Early Dynamics and Breakaway Attempts

The stage began under clear skies and sweltering heat, with temperatures exceeding 35 degrees Celsius, necessitating constant hydration and cooling strategies from the riders. The initial 70 kilometers of the stage were relatively flat, providing little opportunity for breakaways to establish a significant lead. The peloton remained largely intact, with teams like SD Worx-Protime and Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling controlling the pace.

At 37km, the race saw its first significant move as a group of riders, including Carmela Cipriani (BPK), Silvia Zanardi (HPH), and Alice Palazzi (TOP), managed to break clear from the peloton. Their efforts were soon joined by Clara Emond (EFC) and Ana Vitoria Magalhães (BPK), forming a strong five-rider breakaway that gained a substantial lead over the peloton.

The San Marino Climb and Beyond

The race truly ignited on the slopes of the San Marino climb, the first significant ascent of the day. Emond showcased her climbing prowess, leading the breakaway over the summit and securing maximum points in the King of the Mountain classification. As the race descended from San Marino, Emond’s group maintained their advantage, while the peloton began to show signs of fragmentation due to the relentless pace.

Despite the chase from the peloton, Emond and her breakaway companions extended their lead to over five minutes by the 66.9km mark. The peloton, led by the teams protecting the General Classification leaders, notably Lidl-Trek for Elisa Longo Borghini, allowed the gap to stabilize, recognizing that Emond was not a threat to the Maglia Rosa due to her position in the overall standings.

The Final Climb to Urbino

As the race approached the final 20 kilometers, the breakaway began to splinter. Emond launched a decisive solo attack, leaving her breakaway companions behind. Her impressive climbing skills were on full display as she navigated the steep gradients and technical sections leading into Urbino. Behind her, the chasing group, now reinforced by additional riders including Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FST) and Elisa Chabbey (CSR), tried to bridge the gap but struggled against Emond’s relentless pace. The Danish rider was pulling the chasing group along still fighting for a position in the GC. Paladin was not tasking over trying to consolidate the GC spots from her teammates, leaving Uttrup Ludwig to do the chase by herself, accompanied by Kim LeClourt, who also had her mind set to a stage win.

Entering the final kilometer, Emond maintained a lead of over a minute. The streets of Urbino, with their Strade Bianche style finish, provided a picturesque yet challenging backdrop for the conclusion of the stage. Emond powered through the cobbled streets, her face a mixture of pain and elation, as she crossed the finish line with arms raised in triumph.

Post-Race Reactions

Emond expressed her joy and disbelief at the win. “I can’t believe it! This victory is for my team and everyone who has supported me. The final climb was brutal, but I knew I had to give it everything. Crossing the finish line with my arms in the air was a dream come true.”

Elise Chabbey, who finished second, praised Emond’s effort. “Clara was incredible today. She deserved the win. We tried to catch her, but she was just too strong,” Chabbey remarked.

Erica Magnaldi, who finished third, echoed similar sentiments. “It was a tough stage, but Clara made it look easy. Kudos to her and her team.”

General Classification Standings

Despite Emond’s stage win, Elisa Longo Borghini retained the Maglia Rosa, maintaining her lead in the General Classification. The race for the overall victory remains tight, with several key mountain stages ahead that are expected to shake up the standings further.

Looking Ahead

Stage 5 promises another challenging day with a 133km route from Frontone to Foligno, featuring multiple climbs and opportunities for breakaways. The General Classification contenders will need to be vigilant, as any misstep could cost them valuable time.

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