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Milan nets Giro 4th stage, Pogacar retains lead

Italy’s Jonathan Milan emerged a popular home winner of the Giro d’Italia fourth stage on Tuesday with race favourite Tadej Pogacar retaining the overall lead.

The 190km ride from Acqui Terme to Andora on the Italian Riviera was marred by the race-ending crash of Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay.

While the man who created history as the first black African to win a Grand Tour stage, in the 2022 Giro, was taken off in an ambulance, Pogacar was safely in the peloton hunting down a two-man breakaway.

Pablo Munoz and Stefan de Bod had forged to the front early in the stage, but their time in the spotlight was numbered with the peloton relentlessly reeling them in.

They were duly swallowed up with 5km to go.

Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers was the first to attack, and he led over the final hill and down into the day’s final destination, the port of Andora.

But it was to be Milan (Lid-Trek) who took the bunch sprint honours, ahead of Australian Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and German Phil Bauhaus (BahrainVictorious).

“I have so many emotions now. I said from the beginning we came here with one goal for everyone so today the guys did an amazing job and it was such an amazing sensation to win here again at the Giro d’Italia,” said Milan, who was adding to his stage win last year.

All the top riders in the overall standings finished in the main pack and the general classification remained unchanged.

Pogacar, who crossed in 30th, holds a 46second cushion over his main title rival Geraint Thomas, with Daniel Martinez a further second back in third in the GC ahead of stage five, over 178km from the port of Genoa down the coast to Lucca in northwest Tuscany.

Girmay frustration

One man who will be a frustrated onlooker is Girmay.

The Eritrean, third in the stage 24 hours earlier, took a heavy fall on a descent ahead of the final intermediate sprint on a wet right-hand bend around 67km from the finish.

Nursing what appeared to be his right hip he rode off gingerly only to dismount from his bike shortly afterwards and was taken away in an ambulance.

He was one of his Intermarche-Wanty team’s best hopes for a stage win on this year’s Giro.

The 24-year-old is the first black African to win one of cycling’s classics — in the Gent-Wevelgem in 2022, and a stage on one of cycling’s three big Tours, in the Giro the same season.

His Giro achievement was marred by a freak accident on the podium when a cork from a bottle he opened to celebrate his victory flew into his eye and he had to withdraw from the race the following day.

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