Tadej Pogačar at this point looks more and more unbeatable as he won the hard uphill finish on Tirreno-Adriatico stage 4. The Slovenian single-handedly closed down multiple attacks on the last climb when his domestiques could not do it, and sprinted to his 5th World Tour-level victory in 2022, taking the blue leader’s jersey as a bonus.
We were all waiting for Remco Evenepoel to go solo to gain more time today on the hilly circuit. With 40 kilometres to go, Julian Alaphilippe set a very high pace on the Bellante climb (4.2 km, 5.7%), stretching the peloton. After Alaphilippe ended his pull, Evenepoel attacked hard, but Tadej Pogačar was marking him. The Belgian’s attack created a four man leading group including Pogačar, Filippo Ganna and Jai Hindley. The peloton did not allow the dangerous quartet to gain much time, and they were chased back with 25 km to go.
Quinn Simmons was the last survivor of the breakaway. He looked strong, but his chances to win on stage 4 were not improved by the fact that he had not lost much time on GC. After he was caught, there were multiple attempts from riders before the final Bellante climb to get away, but nothing stuck.
The stage was hard and the uphill finish suited puncheurs like Alaphilippe and Pogačar. No particular team paced the whole climb, which caused many attempts by different riders. With 2.2 km to go Evenepoel attacked as that was his best chance to win as he will never beat someone like Pogacar in a sprint. Victory Lafay was marking him and Tadej Pogačar immediately reacted and closed the gap. Briefly before this attack, Pogačar also chased down Kelderman and Lopez’s moves. It was similar to the Jebel Jais stage in last month’s UAE Tour, where the Slovenian chased after every big threat.
Pogačar could not afford to let the riders ride away and gain even a small lead because everyone else would look at him in the peloton to close the gap and other UAE-Emirates riders were not be able to chase attacks as they are not strong enough. Marc Soler was the last domestique left for Pogačar and he accelerated with 1.6 km to go to test other riders. His move was not too effective as he was already very tired. Surprisingly, the race was too hard for Alaphilippe, who got dropped from the group in a finish he would normally be the favourite for.
Porte attempted an attack but once again did not get any separation from the ever present Pogacar at the front of the grou. After realizing he was not able to get away, he continued to pace as his teammate, Tao Geoghegan Hart, was still in the group and can sometimes produce a good result on a finish like this. The Cofidis rider Victor Lafay looked great when he attacked in the final kilometre, with the finish climb similar to Giro d’Italia 2021 stage 8, where he won from a breakaway. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Pogačar was sitting on his wheel and countered his move.
Pogačar immediately gained a decent gap and won the stage after a 40 second solo to the finish. Both Jonas Vingegaard and Remco Evenepoel were not sitting behind Pogačar and they were not in a good position, which meant they could not immediately respond to the Slovenian’s attack, who has a higher 5 second power than them to start with. Pogačar took the GC lead, while Evenepoel is 9 seconds behind him.
Stage 5 is another punchy day. Pogačar will be a huge favorite to win this stage if the UAE-Emirates do not give the breakaway too big an advantage. In the last 30 kilometres there are multiple hard hills like in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but with an uphill finish.