Giro leader Tadej Pogacar finally takes it easy in Stage 4. Jonathan Milan takes a sprint victory

ANDORA, Italy (AP) — On the fourth day of his first Giro d’Italia, Tadej Pogacar finally took it easy.

The Slovenian’s overall lead remained unchanged as he let the sprinters assume the spotlight and Jonathan Milan won the fourth stage on Tuesday in a bunch finish.

Pogacar, who is attempting to win both the Giro and Tour de France this year, had been at the center of attention in the opening three stages.

In Stage 1, he immediately gained time on all of his direct rivals and finished third in a sprint. Then he claimed the pink jersey by winning the second stage and nearly caught the sprinters by surprise in Stage 3 with a late attack.

This time, Pogacar sat tight in the peloton as Milan edged Kaden Groves and Phil Bauhaus at the line for his second victory at the Giro after claiming the second stage last year.

Milan, who rides for the Lidl-Trek team, also reclaimed the points jersey that he won last year.

Milan also competes in track cycling and he helped Italy to the gold medal in team pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics.

Pogacar, the two-time Tour de France champion, remained 46 seconds ahead of Geraint Thomas and 47 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez.

Milan required slightly more than 4 hours to complete the 190-kilometer (118-mile) route from Acqui Terme to the seaside town of Andora — which followed some of the same roads used in the Milan-San Remo classic.

There was a third-category climb midway through the stage and then a short ascent to Capo Mele that ended with less than three kilometers to the finish — followed by a short but high-speed descent. Then the final 800 meters were flat.

Francisco Muñoz and Stefan De Bod, who were involved in an early breakaway, were caught by the main pack with a few kilometers (miles) remaining. Then time trial specialist Filippo Ganna made a solo attack up the Capo Mele but he was caught within sight of the finish to set up the sprint.

“My track teammate Ganna really put us under pressure but he also helped us in a way,” Milan said. “And then (teammate) Simone Consonni did just a fantastic lead-out. And then I just had to play my cards.”

Eritrean rider Biniam Girmay’s run of bad luck at the Giro was extended when he fell twice on rain-slicked roads and had to abandon the race. Girmay also had to abandon two years ago when he was struck in the eye by a cork popped from a bottle of Italian sparkling wine as he celebrated becoming the first Black African to win a stage at a grand tour.

Stage 5 on Wednesday follows a 178-kilometer (111-mile) undulating route from Genoa to Lucca that could provide grounds for more fireworks from Pogacar.

The Giro ends in Rome on May 26.


AP cycling:

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