2014 Giro d’Italia: Stage 4 preview and live blog

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    The Giro rolls on into the next stage.

    The Giro d’Italia resumes after the first rest day back on Italian soil with a 112 kilometres stage from Giovinazzo to Bari. Join The Roar for live updates and discussion of all the race action on from 10:30pm (AEST).

    Given the short nature of the parcours, Stage 4 could almost be considered a second rest day for the General Classification contenders. However, with the glory of a stage victory up for grabs there will be no rest for the teams of the sprinters and the ever hopeful breakaway.

    The rather featureless stage includes just one intermediate sprint, making brand recognition for their sponsors the primary goal of a breakaway. As the teams of the sprinters are unlikely to throw away this opportunity to claim the prestige and press that follows a stage victory.

    Excluding the comparatively short cycle from Giovinazzo to the streets of Bari, Stage 4 is essential a circuit race consisting of eight laps of 8.3 kilometres. With three tight 90-degree turns and a sweeping 90-degree bend within two kilometres of the finishing line set to test the alertness of the peloton.

    Winning the battle for position at the fore of a stretched out peloton will be more important than ever with the sweeping 90-degree bend in to our finishing straight coming under 500 metres from the finishing line. However, the eight metre wide Corso Vittorio Emanuele II should provide room to manoeuvre for those sprinting from an suboptimal position.

    Despite leaving Ireland and heading to the south of Italy the weather does not appear like it will improve for the cyclists, with current weather forecasts predicting a 70% chance of precipitation. Which will only increase the difficulty of the circuit through the streets of Bari, quite possibly exponentially increasing the chances of heartbreak and drama within the final two kilometres.

    While Giant Shimano’s lead out for Marcel Kittel has yet to properly click just yet, the German still remains the favourite to emerge victorious in Bari. There could be an opportunity for the hulking German’s rivals to upstage him if they can manage to sufficiently out position him approaching the dash for the line.

    The final 350 metres are slightly uphill, which may offer the slightest of advantages to the likes of Ben Swift of Sky Pro Cycling. However, in the grand scheme of things it is impossible to look past Kittel for the stage victory – but you know what they say about betting on a sure thing.